DAA Daily

The College Admissions Process: Is it Fair?

By Leila Nassar, Staff Reporter, The Pawprint

Young man writing college or university application form with pen and paper. Student applying or filling document. Scholarship, grant or admission. School website in laptop.

Have you ever heard anyone complain about how unfair college admissions are? Generation Z has many doubts as to how fair college admissions really are. Based on a survey of 1,000 high school students in the US, 23% of them said they think the college admissions process is fair. There are many people on both sides of this argument, however, the real question is; are college admissions truly fair? There is no set answer to this question, however, instead of saying that they are totally unfair, it can be said that they are making great changes to their application process. 

During the years in which the pandemic hit the world, there were great changes in the college admissions process. These changes included: shifting to becoming “test-optional”, focusing more on college essays and interviews, and looking at the applicants showing a general interest in the college. Many universities have put quite a bit of effort into making their admissions process fairer during the pandemic, however, they realized that these changes have helped them accept the students they think are best suited for them. When the pandemic began, colleges began to temporarily remove their testing requirements for applicants so that they could make college more accessible (ACT and SAT no longer required). Many colleges made this decision permanent after seeing its effects. The problem with having these tests as requirements to apply was that applicants from lower income households were not able to pay for tutoring in order to study for the SAT or ACT, which affected their scores, making them unable to apply to the universities they would like to attend. Colleges have also started to focus more on the essays that the students write. This allows applicants to stand out and express themselves while offering the admissions office a whole view of the applicant beyond academic achievements and extracurriculars. Colleges also like to see that the applicant is interested in their program because this allows them to evaluate how likely it is that the applicant will accept any offer given to them. The extent to which applicants show interest in a certain college is one of the most crucial factors of the admissions process. 

Even though the application process has seen a great number of changes, there are still some more changes that can be made in order for the admissions to become more equitable. Some of these changes include eliminating early-decision applications and expanding the size of the freshman class. Early-decision applications are applications that are required to be submitted before regular-decision applications and give the applicants a higher chance at getting admitted into the university they would like to get into. This application is binding, meaning that the students who apply and get in are required to attend the college or else they will be blacklisted. This process should be eliminated or rethought since it gives colleges or universities more information about the applicants and whether they are full-pay or half-pay. This information helps them plan for the number of low-income applicants that they are able to accept. The early decision process allows students from higher income families to fill seats before any students from low-income families are even able to. Another recommendation would be to expand the size of the freshman class when possible. The problem with a countless number of colleges is that they are very selective, making them accept a very small number of applicants even when they have the space and resources to accept more. If more students are admitted overall, without making any large changes to the entry requirements, more applicants from more diverse backgrounds would be able to attend their preferred colleges.

Through extensive research of the new changes made to the admissions process, it can be concluded that although college admissions are not completely fair yet, the above changes have aided in making these admissions more just, motivating more students to apply to the university of their dreams. Although this is a topic that is very controversial to most, there is no doubt that colleges around the world are trying to fix the flaws within their admissions processes by using more holistic reviews. There is still a long way to go, however, a lot has changed in the past few years.

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