The college admissions process has been broken for many years. It is time to seriously think about blind college applications for American post-secondary education.
The college admissions scandal exposed the corruption in elite college admissions. Wealthy parents, like celebrity Lori Loughlin, used their money to buy or fake their child’s way into universities across the country.
The only truly surprising aspect of the situation was the bribing of test proctors. Every high school test I ever took seemed foolproof because the proctors were strict and a little scary.
I always knew getting into college was not equal. Hard-working students are often passed over for legacies and athletes. Certain characteristics, that have no real effect on how well you would do academically at the school, give some applicants unethical priority.
Disregard Legacy Status
Children of alumni, known as legacies, have always had a leg up in the college admissions process. Even if they are not wealthy or have a powerful last name, the achievements of their parents and grandparents give them an unfair advantage.
That is not to say legacies cannot get into elite universities like Princeton on their own merit. Many of them work hard to meet the academic standards required to attend them. However, that simple question of asking if anyone in their family is an alumni automatically gives them a leg up.
When Harvard’s Class of 2022 graduates, nearly one-third of those receiving a diploma will be legacy students. Like other Ivy Leagues, Harvard gives legacies a boost in the race to become a student at that famed university. When it comes down to deserving to attend a school like Harvard, family connections should not be considered, let alone asked about in the application process.
No one is born with the right to attend Yale, Princeton or any other school. Although their wealth helps you have the privilege of attending college, your ancestor’s success does not guarantee your own. You are the one attending that school, so your achievements alone should get you there.
Legacy status is considered at 42 percent of private universities, including Ivy League schools. Six percent of public universities also factor in if a student’s family members are alumni.
Many of these schools claim that their campus diversity is strengthened by factoring in a student’s individual characteristics, such as nationality and race. College must include opportunities to meet and work with people who grew up in different worlds than your own. Yet, what does legacy status do to make a place more diverse?
It does not change much about a person except maybe their knowledge of the campus. Perhaps their parents have friends who now teach there or have donated to build a new stadium. Yet in the grand scheme of post-secondary education, there is no indication that legacy status will make a candidate a better fit academically than a first-year student.
Other major universities, such as MIT and Oxford, have recognized the unethical nature of that question. They no longer factor in family history at the university when accepting an application. This is a practice all schools must follow. It is only fair.
Disregard Athletic Ability
Athletic ability is another unfair boost for less academically deserving applicants. While it does help students overcome historic obstacles to post-secondary education, it is still unethical to consider it. Should we not provide the same amount or more scholarships to applicants with stronger-than-average academic ability?
Many people cannot control whether or not they are good at sports. Although practice and experience can make anyone better, much ability comes from genetics and body type. That is not something you can necessarily control and no one should attend Harvard or Alabama because they were born with a defensive tackle build.
Not only do athletes receive massive scholarships, they often get better housing and food. Attendance rules are more lenient. Recruiting an athlete in high school guarantees their acceptance. Their grades and test scores do not matter.
A 2002 study from Princeton University found that athletes received a 48 percent advantage in the admissions process. This huge boost is not surprising. It actually makes sense. Elite athletes bring in huge amounts of money to universities. The more trophies you win, the more money you make.
It is not just the big money sports like football, but more obscure sports. Many of these are more expensive, making the recruits less diverse. There is no way an inner-city school that can barely afford enough textbooks can pay to have a rowing team.
Being able to throw and catch a ball has no impact on your education. People should be going to college first and foremost to study things they are passionate about. Athletes should not be prioritized, and even identified, by the admissions office.
Of course, blind college applications cannot be the only solution. The entire education system in America needs to be revamped, in part to address issues that stem from racism and the unbalanced distribution of wealth in this country. Affirmative action is the current way we are attempting to help get rid of this historic obstacle to education. The conversation around that practice needs to happen before this one.
No one can stop wealthier parents from getting their students coaches for certain schools. It will not stop students from lower-income households coming to schools hungry and being subsequently distracted, making school unfairly harder for them.
But paying teachers better and providing more, and equal, funding for every school could help. Maybe it is a pipe dream and the American education system is unfixable. However, I firmly believe that education, although it is not the great equalizer today, should be for future generations.
It is time for colleges to recognize that considering some characteristics are unethical and should not guarantee admission. Accepting someone for a reason other than their academic and personal success is unfair and ultimately more hurtful to the whole system.