College Applications Are Unfair

Maya Colchamiro, Staff Writer

Many teenagers spend years attempting to achieve perfect grades, stellar extracurriculars, and impeccable SAT or ACT scores. The motive behind these tireless efforts: college applications. These applications force students to exceed in every aspect, and even then, many are rejected. While many may believe that prestigious college applications are solely determined by intelligence, the harsh reality is far from it. Even if celebrities and the rich are not bribing their way into college (a completely different and equally relevant issue), the system caters to the rich. Wealthy people have access to top of the line “feeder schools,” or schools known to send disproportionate numbers of students to highly selective universities. Similarly, rich people have access to costly extracurricular activities, which admissions officers are known to appreciate. Finally, private college counselors or consultants can greatly increase an applicants chances at a specific college, but can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Forbes  explains, “Current trends show that the use of private consultants has increased from 2,000 to 5,000 cases in recent years.” The industry is growing, and this can easily be correlated with higher numbers of applicants in regards to higher education in recent years. Furthermore, wealthier applicants have more access to private SAT and ACT tutoring. Prep Expert  states that “as little as six to eight hours of personalized SAT prep can lead to an average score increase of 90 points on the test.” Personalized prep can be costly and unfairly skewed.

A graph from Education Data displays that 19 million people applied to college in 2020, compared to 7.4 million in 1970. More people having the advantage to attend an institution is a good thing, but this does increase overcrowding and selectivity within the admission process. The Atlantic shares, “Flooded with applications and crunched for time, admissions officers quickly scan the files of most students who have no prayer of getting in and spend just minutes reviewing those they ultimately accept.” College application officers are overworked, and can often just look at the main components of an application: GPA, standardized test scores, extracurriculars, familial legacy, and perhaps five seconds reading the carefully curated essays students produce.

Another issue tipping the scale towards wealthier families is the concept of legacy. Many colleges openly and shamelessly admit that if an applicant’s family attended the same university in the past, said applicant will have a higher chance of an acceptance letter. A poll from USA Today found that 64 percent of Americans oppose special treatment for athletes and 63 percent oppose special treatment for the children of alumni. While the common American is against the idea of legacy, private colleges (often Ivy League institutions) greatly factor in this element. This is yet another way for Ivy League schools to keep the students which make up their population generationally wealthy, and often white.

No matter how equitable the college admission process attempts to be, there will always be an unfair advantage towards the wealthy. Unfortunately, this is not only observed within college admissions, but often within American culture and society.             Luckily, colleges are attempting to be more and more fair with each passing day, so colleges will hopefully be unbiased for later classes.