Originally Posted: May 2, 2012
Last Updated: May 2, 2012
Not too long ago, I found a post in The Wall Street Journal from February (don’t mind my lateness) discussing a relatively recent case—two Caucasian applicants to The University of Texas at Austin believe they were rejected from the school because of the favor of racial and ethnic minorities. The case is still open.
As I did more research on the topic, it seems that people are in high debate about whether or not the two applicants’ claims are justified. There may be some who think students have an advantage in the college admission decision if they’re a certain race. And, truly, colleges and universities in general strive to build the most well-rounded, diverse freshman class they can, based on the applications they receive. But the deliberation remains: should race play a role in college admission?
It’s a hard choice, and sometimes, admission directors have to face that situation or a similar one. The Texas applicants seem to have the mindset that minority students were accepted strictly because they’re of an underrepresented race, religion, etc. This perspective fails to observe the other qualities that likely put these students in the “yes” pile. Promoting equal opportunity is an important facet of higher education, and not just because all students stand to benefit from learning in a diverse environment. Minorities should be equally represented in institutions of high education, and fortunately, over one-third of the college student population is a minority—this mirrors the national population, according to the U.S. Department of Education. However, minorities are still less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than their white counterparts, according to the American Council on Education. And minorities still experience huge economic disparities and are more likely to come from disadvantaged public school districts. Higher education can be seen as a path toward rectifying the situation. Should admission counselors then be more concerned with an applicant's socioeconomic background? Overall, however, if race is considered in the college application process, it only applies to a small part of the admission decision, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
College acceptances can be a really touchy subject, especially this time of the year as high school students may still be dealing with rejection from their top-choice schools. Admission decisions are made holistically, painstakingly, and change from year to year based on myriad factors—and you’ll never know exactly what determined all those acceptances at colleges across the country.
Regardless of the subject’s sensitivity, it’s important to bring to light the continued disparities in education, and more importantly, the public’s perspective on situations such as these. A student is not defined by skin color, religion, or even GPA; rather, the focus should be on each individual’s desire to attain a higher level of education.