The Ivy Coach Daily

October 7, 2020

The Common Application Takes Action to Address Systemic Racism

Ivy Coach salutes The Common App. for taking decisive action to make the highly selective college admissions process more equitable (photo credit: Namkota).

We recently saluted The Common Application for taking decisive action to address systemic racism. And what did Common App. do, you ask? The organization that makes the central platform through which the vast majority of college applicants apply to colleges opted to eliminate the prompt that asked applicants to answer if they’ve faced discipline by their high schools. As studies demonstrated, the prompt disproportionately negatively impacted Black/African American students applying to colleges. And so after years of debate about whether the question should be asked at all and, if so, how it should be posed, Common App. boldly eliminated the question in its entirety.

The Common Application Made a Courageous Change

It’s a decision that we believe is worthy of praise. As Benjamin L. Fu and Dohyun Kim report for The Harvard Crimson in a piece entitled “Experts Say Common App Change Promotes Racial Equity in College Admissions,” “Russell J. Skiba, a psychology professor at Indiana University, said he supported the Common App’s decision, saying it would help lessen racial inequities in college admissions and systemic racism more broadly. ‘I just think this is a courageous act on the part of the Common App, when an institution looks at itself and says, ‘you know, here is something that is potentially disadvantaging a group’ and takes affirmative action to remove that,’ Skiba said. ‘I think it’s the kind of actions that address and hopefully put an end to systemic racism.'”

The Common Application Is Deserving of Praise Today

We wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment of Mr. Skiba. Common App. looked inward and realized that one of its prompts unfairly discriminated against a group of applicants. And while it may have taken the organization too many years to finally take decisive action to address this inequity, we are glad they finally came around to take the courageous step of eliminating the question. Common App. has received its fair share of criticism from us over the years for issues with their application and so we figured we’d further shine sunlight today on a time when they did right.

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