While the US is often considered a meritocracy, it is considerably easier for people born into affluence to succeed in life. These people usually have access to better schools and better social networks, and they can afford more prestigious schools. The affluent often know each other's families, and they marry within their peer groups, thus having children who are born into the affluent lifestyle with all of the perks associated with that lifestyle.
Though the nation has always favored the affluent, it is not impossible for someone from outside these ranks to succeed in life. Young people who display aptitude and hard work can rise into affluence. In recent years need-based scholarships have helped students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds succeed. These students can then join social networks with others in order to have access to better jobs and to provide for their families later. Athletic scholarships can also help students from poor backgrounds succeed, especially if they can join a professional team when their collegiate playing days are over.
Though the affluent in the United States tend to move within their own social circle, it is possible for anyone in the United States to rise into the ranks of the middle class or even beyond, though it is harder given that the poor often do not have access to the school resources needed to succeed educationally. The United States continues to be a meritocracy with some social mobility.