The Problem with College Admissions

As an American Born Chinese raised in a strict family, my before-college goal has always been to get into college, to be more specific, a top ranking university. The way that has been defined in my family is a school with a really low acceptance rate. Whether it be an Ivy League school or a Silicon Valley university, from the moment I was born, my parents have been pushing me to become the most perfect all-around student that ever set foot on earth. With all that pressure came a sense of foreboding once I realized how hard it actually was to get into a university of my choice. Which led me to question why I seemed to be the only one around to stress over college, while the upperclassmen around me could, seemingly effortlessly, get into the college of their choice.

Why is that? It might be the fact that many of those upperclassmen come from more affluent backgrounds since I attend a private school. Jerome Karabel said that according to a study conducted in 2007, “students from the top quartile of the socioeconomic hierarchy (based on parental income, education and occupation) are 25 times more likely to attend a “top tier” college than students from the bottom quartile”. Wealthier students can afford SAT prep and are exposed to more resources, oftentimes making it easier to get into the college of their choice (based on test scores and college essays alone). Yet, it isn’t about the test score itself that makes it easier or harder to get accepted. An article by Yi Yang stated that a reason for all these prep sessions and tutors is so that students can obtain National Merit Scholarships or other awards that come with the high scores in order to stand out even more. Even though filling out an application, submitting SAT scores, and writing essays might be standard business, it doesn’t truly reflect just who the student is. Not to mention the acceptance rates of legacy students (Harvard’s is about 30% — four times their traditional applicant pool rate) help to boost the chances of those students in comparison to teens who are sometimes the first ones in their families to go to college (Karabel).


The following map shows the Top 10 Most Diverse Colleges in America as of 2017 according to


How could the admissions process become fairer? One common suggestion could be to randomize the applicants that fit the necessary academic and athletic parameters. However, in order to make it more ability-based, instead of randomizing all applicants, narrowing that percentage down to maybe 5-10% would still keep the competition alive, so to speak.


How do you think affirmative action has affected college admissions? (in terms of diversity)

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On a scale of 1-5, how biased do you think universities are towards certain genders? (1 is not biased, 5 is very biased)



Do you think randomizing a percentage of qualified applicants is beneficial to making the admissions process fairer?


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If you thought randomizing student applicants was a good idea, what percentage would be most advantageous?

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“2017 Most Diverse Colleges in America.” Niche. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2017. <>.

Cohen, Steve. “The Secret Quotas In College Admissions.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 07 July 2015. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <>.

Karabel, Jerome. “The New College Try.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 23 Sept. 2007. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <>.

Lam, Andrew. “White Students’ Unfair Advantage in Admissions.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 30 Jan. 2017. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <>.

Luzer, Daniel. “Elite College Admissions Are Unfair, Sure… We Still Shouldn’t Care.” The Huffington Post., 29 Nov. 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2017. <>.

Yang, Yi. “The Ultimate Flaw of College Admissions: More Than Race and Class.” The New School Free Press. N.p., 09 Apr. 2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2017. <>.

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