To the 25,276 applicants who were not offered admission to Yale on Wednesday, take heart — the choice is not between “Yale and jail.”

That’s the dichotomy Anthony P. Carnevale, a research professor and director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, tries to debunk in a Friday piece for the New York Times’ “Room for Debate,” which this week considered the timely issue of “Why You Were Rejected.”

Carnevale argues that admission to colleges, particularly “prestigious ones has become the arbiter of economic opportunity,” leading to more and more competition and hence lower acceptance rates every year.

That was certainly the case for Yale and its peer institutions this year — Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Princeton all recorded a drop in their admit rates.

Still, he stresses that there are hundreds of schools “lining up to take Ivy League rejectees.”

“For less-advantaged students, however, not getting to attend college means a lifetime of low-wage jobs instead of economic and social mobility,” he wrote. “And that is a future we cannot accept.”

Other theories put forward by contributors to the “Room for Debate” included colleges that simply “love to say no,” parents more obsessed with the college admissions process than their children and an over-investment in higher education.