Color Blind Admissions

Duke Admission, Color Blind Admission, Economic Status in Admissions

An applicant’s economic circumstances are absolutely taken into account in college admissions.

There is an editorial on the pages of “The Duke Chronicle” entitled “Color Blind Admissions” written by Pallavi Shankar that we found to be an interesting read. Shankar believes it’s unjust that a underrepresented minority applicant with the same background and from the same privilege as a Caucasian applicant has an edge. As he writes, “Equating minority races with disadvantaged backgrounds is problematic. Consider two applicants with similar upbringings—one white, one an underrepresented minority—who are from the same middle-class neighborhood, attended the same high school, earned similar grades and test scores and participated in similar activities. The URM is favored because he will increase the university’s diversity index. But is he truly contributing to the diversity of the student body? His experiences are similar to those of his peers at home, not those of struggling, low-income members of his race. Yet he would also be considered a better applicant on paper than they. He has an advantage over both groups.”

Mr. Shankar is right. The URM does indeed have an advantage over a similar Caucasian applicant from the same high school. Is that unfair? Yes. Is it the way it is? Yes. So we recommend just accepting this and playing within the system to achieve your dream of gaining admission to a highly selective college. Do admissions officers care about one’s advantages in life? They sure do. An African American student who grew up without much opportunity because of her economic circumstances will have an advantage in the admissions process to highly selective colleges as well not in spite of her disadvantages — but rather because of them. So while a URM from privilege does have an advantage over a Caucasian applicant from privilege, that doesn’t mean a URM from poor economic circumstances doesn’t have an advantage over both applicants.

We suspect Mr. Shankar understand this and was trying to articulate this in his editorial. We just wanted to make the point clearer for our audience. And we hope to hear our readers’ thoughts on this subject. So post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to write you back!


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