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EQUITABLE ADMISSIONS

Elite Colleges Equitable Admissions page edited by Ryan Cieslikowski

OUR MOST RESOURCED SCHOOLS COULD BE BEACONS OF
SOCIAL MOBILITY AND INNOVATION.

 

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INSTEAD, THEY
DISPROPORTIONATELY ACCEPT

THE MOST PRIVILEGED STUDENTS.


 

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THE DATA IS CLEAR. THESE SCHOOLS CAN AND SHOULD DO MORE TO SERVE THE PUBLIC GOOD BY ENROLLING RACIALLY AND ECONOMICALLY
DIVERSE CLASSES. 

 

 THE PROBLEM. 

“One of the cruelest ironies in America’s current higher education system is that our most inclusive and accessible institutions have lacked adequate resources to invest in student success, while highly selective institutions with vast resources to invest in students and propel them to graduation day admit overwhelmingly affluent applicants with a myriad of advantages.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

"Elite" colleges remain overwhelmingly the province of the rich. As research by the economists Raj Chetty and John Friedman shows, 38 elite colleges have more students who come from families in the top 1 percent than students who come from the bottom 60 percent (families making less than $65,000 a year).

 

We know how this happens. Colleges offer explicit preferences the children of alumni (“legacies”), donors, recruited athletes, and faculty. These so-called “ALDC” preferences are substantial. Combined, ALDCs represent thirty percent of each Harvard class. About forty-three percent of white students at Harvard are an ALDC.

 

In terms of admission rates, being an ALDC improves your chances by an order of magnitude. According to the data produced in SFFA’s lawsuit, approximately 33.6 percent of legacy applicants (and eighty-six percent of recruited athletes) are admitted, while Harvard’s overall admissions rate is approximately 4.6 percent—and remember that includes the ALDCs. A team of researchers at Princeton found that being a legacy was worth about 160 extra points on the SAT—nearly as much as being African American or Hispanic before the end of Affirmative Action. The Atlantic’s Joe Pinsker likened it to having a superpower.

 

Colleges should be a tool for upward social mobility. But because ALDC preferences serve as a means of legitimating the admission of wealthy students, “elite” schools are largely a tool to prevent downward social mobility among the rich. In order for this to change, colleges will need to let in more students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Specifically, they should commit to admitting significantly more low-income students and recruiting more students of color to apply.

 

Aside from offering more opportunities to students who are currently shut out, admitting classes with greater socioeconomic diversity would benefit the low-income students already on campus, growing the community of students from similar socioeconomic backgrounds. Moreover, diverse classrooms and social spaces will shape leaders with diverse perspectives and insights, and increase the racial and socioeconomic diversity of our nation’s leadership.

 

The problem is clear and students are ready to act. 

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 THE SOLUTION. 

When they're organized, students are a forced to be reckoned with. From the Freedom Rides in 1961, to the March for Our Lives in 2018, to the Sunrise Movement today, students are experts at demanding a seat at the table and creating change. Now it's time for students to hold our most powerful universities accountable.

Class Action is empowering students to do just that. Here's how:

 

1. Building relationships with existing student organizations and helping to build new organizations to advocate for equitable admissions. Empowering just a single student leader on one of these campuses can set off a chain reaction of change. 

 

2. Connecting these leaders so they can share tactics, ideas, and strategies and coordinate their actions. Student organizers are eager to build power across multiple schools. As we grow capacity on campuses across the country, students are innovating on existing tactics and working together to disrupt the national status quo.

 

3. Disseminating knowledge from our board of advisors who are leading national voices. These experts include Professor Amy Binder at Johns Hopkins and the former Chancellor of Vanderbilt University, Nick Zeppos. This helps student organizers focus their efforts on the most effective avenues for change.

 

4. Coaching on student activism, drawing from our experience as student organizers and our training as community organizers. Organizing is not always intuitive but with a little coaching and care, it is accessible to anyone. 

 

Some of the policy changes that our organizers are encouraging their universities to adopt include ending legacy admissions, increasing outreach to communities of color, improving the transfer pipeline for non-traditional students, and increasing Universities’ share of Pell Grant recipients.

 

Additionally, they are organizing alumni donors who are friends of the cause and leveraging their collective power to advocate for these changes via petitions, op-eds, and direct actions. 

LEARN ABOUT OUR NATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO END LEGACY ADMISSIONS

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