Americans have an unwavering belief in economic mobility. Most people in the U.S. think they can work hard to get ahead, even though economic mobility is lower in the U.S. than in other industrialized countries.
Americans underestimate the importance of luck and believe that people who are ahead got there from hard work and intelligence. Even something like a good photo is statistically just luck based on how many photos we take. But when we get a good photo we feel skilled.
Economists have found that the bigger a gap there is between rich and poor, the more important luck is in determining wealth, and the more important going to the right college is so you can meet the right people to have the right luck.
Public schools in the U.S. are a study of our increasingly delusional obsession with meritocracy. Kids in wealthy zip codes perform higher than kids in lower-income zip codes.