"Elite" in the elite universities was never about a jump in intelligence.

It was always about a jump in social status. About wealth, social connections, history with the school, etc.

The idea that the Ivies were ever purely about the intellectually elite is a narrative that's fairly recent. They were finishing schools for the socially elite that have gradually opened their doors to more and more of the general public.

But because they're also gateways to financial security, the intellectually elite have always wanted access to the world they provide, the social connections, that just being smart cannot guarantee.

I've always said that if the Ivies ever became simply about admitting the smartest kids, it wouldn't be long before they lost a significant part of their appeal. Because the smartest kids often aren't the best connected, the wealthiest, etc. The networks by which these institutions are defined would suffer.