Are College Admissions Rigged?

By: Ixchel Gonzalez

As I have survived the great war that is college application season, I have noticed the competitive atmosphere that surrounds students. One thing in particular that I have noticed has been fellow classmates belittling the achievements of others, in particular, I have seen this happen to my fellow poc’s, with people crediting their success in college admissions to the fact that they were the diversity acceptance– essentially saying that they were only let in for diversity purposes and not for the actual work and effort they put in all 4 years of high school. Which raises the question of whether or not affirmative action should still be utilized in the admissions process. 

Firstly, you have to understand that affirmative action was implemented to combat discrimination and promote equality on campuses. Those opposed to the use of affirmative action believe that it gives preferential treatment to certain groups of people based on their race, gender, or sexual identity. 

I can understand this to some extent, but couldn’t the same thing be said about legacy students? Legacy students are also given preferential treatment on the basis that their family has gone to the same school, and therefore, they should too. This poses a certain disadvantage to those who are not legacy students since they might be first generation students. Which brings us to why affirmative action was put in place. 

Obviously we can’t deny that students face different circumstances and situations that might hinder them from certain opportunities or resources, which is why affirmative action helps their case.

Affirmative action helps the students who have been historically disadvantaged due to their race, gender, or other factors in order to gain an equal opportunity to receive a higher education and a chance to succeed. Affirmative action also helps create a more diverse and inclusive society. 

When students are exposed to people from different backgrounds, it leads to a greater understanding and appreciation for different cultures and backgrounds. This can help challenge preconceptions and reduce prejudices which will help lead to a greater understanding of the diverse world of people that students might encounter outside of the classroom and in their post-education life. When people from diverse backgrounds are given equal opportunities, it means that the best talent is being utilized. This leads to an increase in both innovation and productivity, which benefits society. 

We also have to take into account all the factors that are considered when making admission decisions. GPA, grades, extracurriculars, class rigor, major you’re applying under, standardized test scores, class rank, application essay, supplemental essays, recommendations, work experience, volunteer work, state residency, and the dozens of other factors that go into the application. Race and gender play a very minimal role in admissions, yet they are still taken into account. 

Obviously some factors are weighed more heavily than others which is why race and gender are only a small sliver of a very big pie that is taken into consideration. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how it can be hurtful when people downplay one’s accomplishments just to say that you only got in because of your race– to make it seem as if I was just sitting around all 4-years of high school having a free ticket into any university of my choosing. 

The idea that race is the sole reason people get into whatever university is false, and it furthers the stigma that POC’s aren’t smart and rely purely on their race to get them into wherever they want. 

Not only does affirmative action help increase diversity on school campuses, but it also gives those disproportionately affected by hardships an opportunity to have the available resources colleges offer at their fingertips. 

What many don’t take into account when making such comments about race is that GPA and grades are the entry level to even have all the material you submitted looked at.  Prestigious schools have a minimum GPA requirement to even be considered, and this goes for everyone regardless of race. Not to mention, these kids getting admitted into elite universities probably have intense extracurriculars and have worked hard all four years of high school to be able to compete with the other stellar applicants.

When you say that someone was the diversity acceptance, it belittles all the blood, sweat, and tears they have gone through–both in and out of school. Maybe try working a job to support your family, all the while having 6+ hours of coursework, studying, and extracurriculars to juggle, before passing judgment.

If universities do decide to get rid of affirmative action, they should also get rid of the legacy question that is asked to be able to create a fair application process. Yet, in all honesty, I don’t think admissions will ever truly be impartial because they are done by people, and people have their own prejudices and appeals– which is why universities should keep affirmative action. In doing so, it keeps admissions fair to students and gives chances to those with less resources. 

As applicants get more competitive throughout each admissions cycle, the rivalry between students and the jealousy among them is only bound to increase. So, when it comes to be that time of year again, just remember that everything happens for a reason, and don’t make comments belittling someone else’s achievements.


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