The Ivy Coach Daily

July 10, 2024

The Liberal Bias in College Admissions Myth: A Breakdown

Previously Published on December 26, 2015:

If you’re a regular reader of conservative blogs and news outlets, you might be under the impression that elite colleges and universities prefer to admit liberal students over conservative ones. But is this true? Not at all — with one major caveat. It’s largely a myth that highly selective colleges have a bias against conservative students. Let’s unpack just how admissions officers weigh an applicant’s political values.

Conservative Students Contribute to the Diversity of an Incoming Class

Believe it or not, admissions officers have a responsibility to create diverse cohorts of students. But diversity isn’t a simple matter of race or socioeconomic status. Many don’t know that political diversity is indeed one of these metrics that guide admissions officers. Fortunately for conservative students, the vast majority of applicants to highly selective colleges and universities are on the left side of the political spectrum. In other words, the student espousing pro-gun or anti-social welfare viewpoints is much more of a hot commodity — if they manage to share these viewpoints persuasively and eloquently, that is. 

This creates a situation where the average conservative student is actually more likely to be admitted than the average liberal student. It’s all a numbers game, despite what some will have you believe. So, if you’re a conservative student who has the urge to share your opinion on your college application, by all means do so! You might be rewarded for the rarity of your intellectual perspective.

The Exception to the Conservative Admissions Boost

However, as our loyal readers know all too well, we at Ivy Coach are nothing if not truth-tellers. We refuse to sugarcoat things, including the fact that admissions officers (and elite university faculty, for that matter) are overwhelmingly liberal. Still, this doesn’t mean conservative students should suppress their viewpoints. We can’t overstate how important intellectual diversity is to admissions officers. The one exception to this principle, however, comes into play for those students who espouse a socially conservative perspective with respect to LGBTQ+ issues. Rail against clean energy, the estate tax, and foreign policy all you want, but we at Ivy Coach don’t advise writing about your opposition to transgender rights on your college application. 

Our reasoning is twofold: first, admissions officers do usually grimace when reading socially conservative applications. Try as they might, their liberal bias might still come into play when reading about the kid who started an anti-LGBTQ+ group at their high school. Secondly, and more importantly, viewpoints predicated on hate, discrimination, misogyny, racism, and intolerance are fundamentally incompatible with a liberal arts community. How can you be expected to coexist in a diverse environment if you couldn’t even refrain from disparaging others on your application?

It might sound like we’re contradicting ourselves on this, but it’s still absolutely true that conservative students optimize their chance of admission to a highly selective college or university by writing about their fiscally, politically, and economically conservative perspective. All it takes is a little restraint to avoid framing yourself as a social conservative, and you’ll be able to reap these admissions benefits (even if, for the record, we at Ivy Coach find anti-LGBTQ+ policies and the like quite reprehensible). 

The Reality for Conservative Students on Elite College Campuses

Those right-leaning students who end up with acceptances to elite universities will probably still find themselves outnumbered by their liberal counterparts once they step foot on campus. That is the political reality of such schools: they tend to attract liberal applicants, hire liberal faculty and staff, and promote broadly liberal values. Rest assured that you will still find pockets of like-minded individuals who will make campus feel like home. However, a word of advice: college is a time for intellectual exploration! An elite education is a great privilege, so don’t stay in your echo chamber for too long (no matter your side of the political spectrum)! You might even find yourself changing some minds if you spend enough time with your political opposition — but don’t be too surprised if your own mind gets changed in the process!

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