The holiday season brings much joy and happiness to millions of high school seniors throughout the country; however, it is also a time of great stress and trepidation as the college acceptance early decision notification process begins. These aspiring students are weeks away from the most significant email of their lives. Countless hours of schoolwork, extracurricular activities, community service, and test preparation have prepared them for the next level of education. But, will these students get into the school of their dreams or have these dreams shattered by a broken acceptance system? Unfortunately for these students, the college application process is simply a “cynical numbers game.” Throughout this process, millions of qualified and intelligent students try to differentiate themselves through a process that relies on scores and standards instead of one that truly depicts that value of the individual. With the increased debate surrounding affirmative action, colleges have been forced to become stricter regarding diversity requirements. This has led to much controversy and debate over the merits of affirmative action.
In his article, “Live and Learn” college professor Louis Menand talks about his three different approaches to education, meritocracy, liberal arts and the new tracking method, and how they represent today’s college admissions process. Theory one, and the most prevalent theory is his theory on meritocracy. This meritocratic approach attempts to separate the superior from the inferior. This is how the current landscape of college admissions is modeled around. However, by admitting less qualified students, universities are failing the meritocracy.
In a 2014 op-ed, “To All the Colleges That Rejected Me,” a bitter high school senior wrote a satirical analysis of what she believes of college admissions and affirmative action. After being rejected by many Ivy League schools, Suzy Lee Weiss’ article bashes the admission process. Ms. Weiss had a 4.5 GPA, 2120 SAT and experience as a United States Senate page. Ms. Weiss represented all of the aspects that colleges require: terrific grades, solid test scores, and innovative work experience, yet she still was rejected by every Ivy League school that she applied to. In her article, Suzy critiques the advice given by admissions advisors and guidance counselors when they tell you, “Just be yourself.” That is great advice, as long as yourself has nine extracurricular activities, six leadership positions, three varsity sports, killer SAT scores and two moms.” She also says that she wishes she had “started a fake charity” or went to Africa to “scoop up some suffering child, take a few pictures, and write my essays about how spending that afternoon with Kinto changed my life.” Her point of view is one of an entitled, spoiled brat, and somewhat racist and cruel; however, her point is valid. Through her egocentric and arrogant writings, she does detail the truth about the shallowness of the college application process.
The college admittance process has become very subjective. I certainly do not agree with the racist and politically incorrect themes mentioned throughout the article; however, I do believe that colleges have been misleading their applicants. Suzy states that a candidate that is less qualified but is “1/32 Cherokee heritage” should not be admitted into a prestigious university over one who goes above and beyond all of the requirements. The decision for one to be admitted to a university should be dependent solely on the caliber of the student and not based on his or her heritage and ethnicity. The affirmative action process is an unjust method that prevents qualified students from fulfilling their dreams.
Suzy’s argument is virtually a complete opposition to affirmative action. “Affirmative action programs are meant to break down barriers, both visible and invisible, to level the playing field, and to make sure everyone is given an equal break.” Affirmative action ultimately favors the minorities by judging the majorities more harshly. Although extremely racist, Suzy does portray all of the issues obviously wrong with today’s affirmative action policy: this policy of “diversity!” Affirmative action is one of the main contributors to the difficulty of college admissions because schools are required to fulfill their diversity requirements and therefore, cannot follow the meritocratic approach. While Menand’s methods would create the most qualified and legitimate students each year, affirmative action disables universities from establishing a superior group of students. In a 2009 poll, only 22% of white students agreed with the affirmative action policy. In the case of Stanford University, one of the most prestigious universities in the world. “‘merit’ should be individual achievement — not just grades and test scores, of course, but a broad range of accomplishments, in athletics, music, student government, drama, school clubs and other extracurricular efforts. But race and ethnicity (or gender or sexual preference) do not have a place on this list; these are traits, not achievements.” All universities should follow the model of Stanford, and strive to make their graduating classes as good as possible.
The concept of affirmative action is noble in theory; however, in reality, I believe that it harms the system that it is trying to protect. As the articles state, rewarding acceptance to the unqualified does an injustice to the students who are qualified and the institutions they attend. Students should be judged by the merits of their accomplishments and not by their race, creed and color.
Blog 5, Section 8