I recently read an article in the Los Angeles Times about the landscape of college admissions with regard to race. The article opens to tell a story of a college prep company in the San Gabriel Valley that shows parents graphs summarizing the need for Asian American students to do better on their tests. The company says Asian American students “are penalized by 50 points [on the SAT] — in other words, they had to do that much better [than other races] to win admission.” The presentation was meant to show parents what they’re up against in trying to get their students admitted to top colleges.
I can wholeheartedly say that this is absolutely wrong. In fact, in response to this article a former admissions officer from UC Berkeley writes, “the University of California system does not advantage or disadvantage certain applicants based on their race. Such practices across all college systems are unconstitutional.” There have been many Supreme Court cases which draw upon race in higher education, and the bottom line is this: colleges cannot assign points or fulfill quotes for race.
I understand that college admissions can be stressful, but with that said, does race matter in higher education? Absolutely. Is it vital in the process?
Let’s look at it like this:
- Sarah is a senior.
- She attends a large public school (2,400 students) in a middle-income area.
- Sarah’s G.P.A. is a 3.82 (unweighted)
- She scored a 1250 on her SAT (600 Reading and 650 Math); the average for her school is a 1180.
- She is taking 3 AP classes her senior year; her school offers 6 AP courses for its students.
- Her activities include:
- 9-11 grade: Soccer
- 10-12 grade: ASB
- 11-12 grade: Debate Team
- 12 grade: Internship at local Law Office.
- Sarah is Hispanic.
- Sarah’s parents did not attend college.
- Major: History
- John is a senior
- He attends a small private school (1,200 students) in an upper, middle-income area.
- John’s G.P.A. is a 3.97 (unweighted)
- He scored a 1310 on his SAT (650 Reading and a 660 Math); the average for his school is 1260.
- He took one AP class his junior year; his school offers 16 AP courses for its students.
- His activities include:
- 9 grade: Football
- 9 grade: Robotics
- 10 grade: Baseball & ASB
- 11 grade: Tennis & Track & Mentor to junior high track students
- John is White.
- John’s father attended college; his mother did not.
- Major: History
If you were an admissions officer at UC Berkeley, who would you admit?
Sarah has a lower G.P.A. and a lower S.A.T. score than John. Sarah is taking more challenging coursework than John. John is involved in a ton of activities. Sarah is involved in a lot of activities too, and she is more consistent. Sarah is a first generation Hispanic student, and John is not first generation and is White. Sarah and John are both scoring higher than their school’s average on the S.A.T.
The point I am trying to make is this: there is no one sized fits all formula to guarantee admission anywhere.
If you are leaning towards admitting Sarah, was it because she is Hispanic? Did you give her an added boost on her SAT scores because of it as the L.A. Times article suggests?
Let me guess… no, and no.
College admissions officers have to look at a variety of details for every applicant who makes it to a holistic review. It is a tough job. If a student is scoring higher than her classmates on the S.A.T., shows commitment to activities that are in line with her major, has a solid G.P.A., is first generation, and is an ethnic minority… that is WHO she is. It tells a story, and it helps an admission officer put her credentials in perspective. It allows a college to see what a perspective student would bring to that campus.
If you are worried about college admissions or stressed about how to position your children to get accepted, you’re not alone. There are ways you can strategically plan, and we can help! But what we want you to leave with today is that there isn’t a checklist of things you have to get in. Every college offers a unique experience, and what’s more important is fit.
Call us if you want to chat about this or if you want help getting college ready (661) 295-9946. We’d love to go over best fit schools, and bets VALUE schools. Because hey… who wants to pay full price for college?