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The Hidden Bias of College Acceptance



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    It sucks to not always get what you want, this happens to a lot of people especially when someone can’t get the career they’ve always wanted. This was all because someone had something more to offer, which is not fair because if there is someone with a high GPA and the best test scores doesn’t get to go because they didn’t have that kind of money or a legacy, or maybe even a scholarship. It’s not fair for the people who have tried to get into college but they couldn’t because they just didn’t have that much to offer or no one to help them get into college.

    In the world we live in today it is nearly impossible to become very successful without a college degree. Many high schools, and even colleges are offering numerous ways to get in; so why is it that college dropout rates are at an all time high? About 30% of college freshmen drop out after their first year of college. The average college dropout earns 35% less every year than a graduate-( ; with huge pay differences like that why would anyone drop out? Well a recent poll says that more than half Americans say colleges shouldn’t give children of alumni a “leg up”, while nearly half say that parental connections should be “at least a minor factor.(”Hoover, Eric. “What Colleges Want in an Applicant (Everything).” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Nov. 2017,)

    The debate about getting into the nation’s competitive colleges, are so highly debated that the Justice Department has confirmed it is looking into a complaint filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations. With accusations of discrimination against high-achieving Asian-Americans, and also affirmative action policies. The Supreme Court affirmed that admissions officers may consider an applicant’s race among other factors, this decision has left people furious. Throughout this whole widespread debate, the term “merit” continues to be brought up. Merit is the quality of being particularly good or worthy, to deserve praise or reward. Over half a century ago, Michael Young, a British sociologist, coined the term “ meritocracy “ to describe how the future in which standardized testing would determine merit. Dr. Zwick, a professor emeritus at the University of California at Santa Barbara, has long researching the Educational Testing Service, and develops and administers the SAT. She says that “ There is, in fact, no absolute definition for merit.” (Hoover, Eric. “What Colleges Want in an Applicant (Everything).” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Nov. 2017,)

    Each year very popular colleges reject thousands of students who could thrive there; colleges aren’t looking to bring in the most straight A students, rejection is usually not because of the student applying, rather a mixture of competing objectives. Half of the institutions on a recent report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling said, “ An applicant’s’ ability to pay was of at least some importance. This is very unfair considering that about 47% of Americans are middle class, and there are 39.7 million Americans living at the poverty line. So with this obvious disadvantage to many students, this shows an obvious bias against people who would struggle, or need assistance to meet their payment. For example if you were a diligent, hard working student, who has all A’s, but can’t make payments without assistance , or on time; then you might have trouble getting into a college where not only you could get by, but excel. Whereas anybody who didn’t even necessarily work hard for it; might get into a prestigious college with ease, because they can make payments on time, and unassisted. So it seems that when someone takes the initiative to better their education, and their financial situation; they are met with challenges from colleges because of their financial situation. (Design, Coa. “Legacy Status in College Admissions: Does It Improve Your Chances?” IvyWise, 2018,)

    But grades can be a very important part too. While there are many benefits to ACT/SAT scoring; there are some drawbacks. Such as grade inflation; which has complicated the evaluation of achievements. A study showed that standardized test scores correlate with race, and family income; white, and Asian students fare better than black, or Hispanic students. What colleges are looking for sends a powerful message, not just for college, but for life. But what colleges ask for from applicants are more monetary based, than the many skills and talents a student might have.

    The Olin College of Engineering includes a live audition. After completing an application, selected students will visit the campus for a rigorous two-day tryout. The students complete a table top design challenge, and on the second time they are tasked with designing a campus building. This time the evaluators will watch how students communicate, and adapt. This experience is not monetary based, and ensures that Olin’s collaborative culture is preserved by getting a better glimpse of each applicant before finalizing their acceptance. So far most colleges aren’t asking applicants to send anything different than before, but that could change. A handful of colleges are planning experiments using different ways to evaluate student potential. Some are starting to look for emotional intelligence, such as the ability to communicate, and work well with others.

    As these colleges are considering change, it is worthy of ask which fixtures of the admissions process they would be willing to discard. Some of the prevalent practices seem to stand in the way of significant change. Giving an advantage to the children of alumni, is an example. Some colleges admit legacies, and children of potential donors at a much greater rate than non-legacies. A legacy is someone who is related to an alumnus of a school-( Legacies make up nearly a third of Harvard’s freshman class. While a few universities stopped considering legacy status more than a decade ago, most colleges look highly unlikely to remove that variable from the college admissions equation anytime soon. The benefits of legacies are the good will with alumni who might open their wallets, they tend to be enthusiastic students who help with the on campus community. (Design, Coa. “Legacy Status in College Admissions: Does It Improve Your Chances?” IvyWise, 2018,)

    Other measures used by selective colleges have nothing to do with the applicants accomplishments, and everything to do with the colleges agenda.A prominent example is applying for binding early decision; a policy that favors affluent students who will not need financial aid offers. This is a way that many colleges use to fill half their seats.

    Technology is making it easier to track how many times an applicant engaged with a college. Whether it’s by visiting the campus, contacting an admissions officer, or merely by responding to an email.

    Colleges are meant to help one further their knowledge, and in turn, further their financial situation. By not accepting applicants based on how much money they bring to the table, they are making it so much more difficult for that student find the best job they could, and go to school at a college that they would otherwise excel in. Some colleges are taking measures to make it more open, and fair by getting to know the student better; but many colleges are holding onto their old ways that are more financially secure.

    Someone can’t get into college just from good grades or good test scores , sometimes it takes more effort than that. Colleges like to only accept the best as in the person with the most money. If someone has good grades they can still get into college with recommendations from counselors and principals.

    The Hidden Bias of College Acceptance. (2021, Aug 30). Retrieved from

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