The Importance of Geographic Diversity

Geography should absolutely be a consideration in the highly selective college admissions process (photo credit: Aaronyoung777).

Is regional diversity a factor in the highly selective college admissions process? You bet. Our nation’s elite colleges aim to admit students from all 50 states and from as many nations around the world as possible. You see, when an elite school publishes a press release about their Early Decision / Early Action admits and they laud admitting students from 44 of the 50 states, that is a failure. It means the school failed to attract capable students from 6 of the 50 states in our union. So it was with great surprise that we read an editorial yesterday in Times Higher Education that criticized the consideration of geographic diversity in the college admissions process. Really? What are we going to criticize next: oranges?

Writer Argues Geographic Diversity Policies Are Discriminatory

As Kate Eichhorn writes in a piece for THE entitled “US regional diversity policies discriminate against students from big cities,” “Regional diversity is one factor among many that is used to determine which students gain admittance to private colleges in the US. It is an admirable idea. In theory, such policies are designed to bring together, in each incoming class, students from diverse urban communities and rural outposts across the nation. In reality, however, the policies rarely, if ever, result in national institutions, and do little to promote diversity.”

Writer Seems to Devalue Students from Underrepresented Places

Oh? Ms. Eichhorn, you don’t believe that the high-achieving children of farmers in Nebraska who yearn of attending an Ivy League school, as an example, add to the rich diversity of an elite university’s campus? Shame on you! These students — an underserved population by our nation’s elite universities — are deserving of the greatest education in our nation just as are students from over-represented states in college admissions, including New York, New Jersey, Texas, and California. Ms. Eichhorn, it seems you’re making the same mistake of Secretary Clinton by overlooking the importance of all the states in our union — especially the ones in the middle. And why? Because you believe our nation’s most bustling cities aren’t well represented by our nation’s elite colleges?

As you write, “Decades later, regional diversity continues to shape US college admissions. While the impacted populations have changed over time (in 2020, Chinese American students, who now make up the majority of students at specialised high schools in New York City, are most likely to be impacted), the result is more or less the same. Elite universities are still able to pit high-achieving minorities in densely populated urban areas against each other for a limited number of seats.”

Shame on the Writer to Blame Asian American Discrimination in Admissions on Geographic Diversity

Ms. Eichhorn, your writing contains giant leaps of logic. You’ve essentially drawn the conclusion that highly selective colleges discriminate against Asian American applicants from specialized high schools in New York City by admitting a student from Oklahoma. Are you aware how many Asian American applicants from, say, Stuyvesant High School in New York City — a specialized high school — earn admission to Ivy League schools each and every year? Are you familiar with how many students from the entire great state of Oklahoma are admitted to Ivy League schools each and every year? Would you be surprised to learn there are more students admitted from this single high school than from entire states in our union?

We have been leading the charge against Asian American discrimination in college admissions for decades. Asian Americans absolutely do face unjust discrimination in the admissions process. But don’t blame the discrimination against Asian Americans on Oklahomans. Legacies from — you guessed it — New York City take up more slots in incoming classes than Oklahomans. So too do athletic recruits from — you guessed it — New York City. Why are you not targeting these groups and instead targeting students from underrepresented states? You’ve tried to make an argument that students in major cities and particularly minorities face discrimination as a result of the importance of geographic diversity in admissions. But in so doing, you’ve discriminated against students from underrepresented states, including deserving young people in states like Nebraska and Oklahoma who — like New Yorkers — have every right to an Ivy League education.

 
 

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