Affirmative Action in College Admissions?

Should colleges take race into account while deciding admissions?

Common college brochure picture attempting to show diversity.

Monkey Business Images

Common college brochure picture attempting to show diversity.

Gabe Paredes, Staff Writer

As High School students start thinking about the possibility of higher education, many start looking into the factors that could affect their decisions on the colleges they’re going to, or if they’re attending college at all. Minimum GPA’s and ACT scores as well scholarships start consuming the minds of students, especially upperclassmen. A variable that could greatly affect all of these factors is the controversial topic of affirmative action.

Affirmative action is an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women. When it comes to higher education, universities have been known for using affirmative action and have taken race into account while deciding admissions.

Theoretically, affirmative action is used to “level the playing field” among races when it comes to admissions. Certain races are known for having some advantages and disadvantages to their education leading up to college. It is also used to ensure a diverse campus which is something most universities take very seriously.

Although affirmative action is supposed to be a positive way to give underprivileged minorities more opportunities to a higher education, in the past couple years affirmative action policies have taken a lot of criticism and have been seen as a way to discriminate against white students.A study from Princeton has shown that Hispanics are twice as likely to win admission as whites, and African-American students are five times as likely to be accepted as whites. The same study has concluded that the race who gets affected negatively the most is Asians. Asian applicants would need to score 140 points higher on the SAT than a white applicant to have a comparable shot of admission at elite private colleges.

To stain on the reputation of affirmative action even more, certain students around the country have admitted to exploiting the affirmative action policies for their own benefit, even though they had no lack of opportunity because of their race. This trend is very popular among students with distant Native American ancestries who write essays about their exaggerated experiences as Native Americans although in reality they had little to no exposure to that culture, or haven’t been in anyway discriminated or underprivileged because of their ancestry.

As a Hispanic who is very likely to benefit from affirmative action, I am torn on this subject. Since I also attend a school composed of mainly American, white students, I understand that white people can work just as hard on their academics as members of any other race and in a way shouldn’t be turned down from the college of their choice because of somebody else is statistically more underprivileged. I also believe though that some minorities should be rewarded because of their work ethic and achievement despite of the disadvantage that might’ve been caused by their race or culture.

There are many students who despite the disadvantages given to them by their race or culture, they still overcome and challenge themselves to exceed in their academics. For example, some students who have learned English as a second language, have still been able to succeed in honors and AP English courses although a lot of students who have spoken English for their entire lives won’t dare take the risk at higher level courses. Same thing goes for standardized tests like the ACT and SAT. Immigrant students who speak English as a second language are still tested on their English the same way as a native English speaker. If one of those immigrant students is able to still get the same or better score on their ACT than the average native English speaker, they should be favored for admission.

There are many people, who through hard work can still can get the same results as someone who didn’t have their disadvantages. In my opinion, students like these should be rewarded with some affirmative action. It is sad that students who exploit the system or use it to ease their way into college, can ruin it for other minorities and white students who do work hard for their academic future.