The Ivy Coach Daily

August 24, 2021

Elite Colleges Asking Disciplinary Question

Elite colleges like Harvard are circumventing the elimination of the disciplinary prompt on The Common Application by adding a prompt of their own to the supplement (photo credit: Caroline Culler).

Earlier this month, we announced to much fanfare that The Common Application had removed the disciplinary prompt, a prompt that disproportionately negatively impacted minority, often low-income applicants. College applicants would no longer be required to indicate whether or not they had been cited for a disciplinary violation at their high schools. It was a victory for young people across this nation and around the world who deserve second chances. If a student smokes a cigarette on school property, does that student really deserve to not get into the elite universities that they’d have otherwise earned admission to had they not lit up? Should it really counter all the good work that they’ve done? And while no admissions officer will say a student won’t get in because they have a disciplinary history, when admission rates are below 10% at our nation’s elite universities, of course it can — and often is — a deciding factor in the process.

But while we celebrated the end to the disciplinary prompt on The Common Application and applauded the organization for its removal, it seems some of our nation’s elite universities are getting around its removal by asking the question on their supplements. We’ve just checked a few supplements for elite universities so far but Stanford University, Harvard University, the University of Michigan, the University of Southern California, Dartmouth College, and Duke University all now ask a version of the disciplinary question. And we believe that’s wrong. The Common Application eliminated this prompt for a reason. It has been shown that the prompt adversely impacts certain communities more so than others — especially low-income, underrepresented minorities who are often the first in their families to go to college. And if these elite universities profess to seek diverse classes and attract these coveted groups, then this super sneaky question needs to be eliminated from their supplements.

From atop our soapbox in college admissions, we at Ivy Coach thus hereby call on these universities — and any others that are asking the disciplinary question that we have not cited today — to take it off the supplements. The Common Application eliminated it because it was wrong and their research showed why it was wrong. So why are some of our nation’s most elite universities choosing to ask it anyway? Hey hey, ho ho. It’s time for the disciplinary prompt to go.

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