January 24, 2022
The admissions system should be totally overhauled to make it more fair, especially for students of color, said a report issued Wednesday by the National Association for College Admission Counseling and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
A major reason that colleges developed the current system, with its tests, essays, grades and recommendation letters, said the report, is to promote selectivity. The report adds, “Selectivity exerts a fundamentally inequitable influence on the path to postsecondary education. It does so not because the system is designed on a complete definition of ‘merit,’ which remains elusive and ill-defined, but because in many cases it is designed to exclude even highly qualified students and because its current configuration relies upon an inequitable system of inputs.”
In addition, colleges should “rethink the financial aid application process into one that is less burdensome for students and families, and no longer requires them to continue to ‘prove they are poor,’” said the new report.
The reason for proposing such changes? Racial equity depends on them, the report says, and specifically equity for Black students.
“In this report, admission recommendations focus on Black students first and foremost, and financial aid recommendations focus on all underserved populations more broadly,” the report says. “To be sure, racism casts destructive effects on many populations in American society. This report’s focus on Black students is a direct outgrowth of the need for a historical reckoning related to the treatment of Black Americans that reached a crescendo in 2020. This exclusive focus is not intended to minimize or diminish the effects of racism on Indigenous peoples, Asian American students, Latinx students, or other marginalized student populations.”
The report adds, “One cannot paint all Black students, or to a larger extent, students of color, with the same brush. Differences in personality, skills, interests, traits, etc. are as numerous within racial/ethnic populations as they are in the population at large. In this project, following larger societal trends, there are commonalities between, for instance, low-income students, students who are the first in their families to attend college, and Black students. But we wish to make clear that this project was designed specifically to address race and racism without regard to a student’s socioeconomic background.”