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Wednesday, April 18, 2018
In College Admissions, Courting Counts
Almost all of the college admissions consulting advice hinges on a single assumption: though colleges get to make the final call, it is students who actively make the choice of where to apply. Yet a deeper look at the recruitment agendas of the nation's colleges and universities tells a very different story, one in which it is the colleges who decide which students to court and why.
A recent NY Times op-ed by two education academics presents alarming (if not unsurprising) data showing that colleges spend more time, money and effort on recruiting students from wealthier, whiter high schools. It certainly isn't news that income and race create an instant advantage in college admissions. Yet data showing the disparity in recruitment techniques is disheartening.
Students may not understand the depth of information mined by universities each year. Testing bodies sell scores and high schools provide them. When universities come to call, they do so with comprehensive knowledge of the target demographic. But it isn't just about wooing the students who are most likely to get in; it's about wooing the students whose families are most likely to be able to pay for it.
Despite all of the collegiate bluster about building diverse classes, the recruitment practices tell a very different story. This shouldn't come as a huge surprise since colleges are, above all, businesses. It makes sense to center resources upon the demographics that can best help a college's bottom line.
Sadly, this contradiction between the promise of diversity and the need to buoy endowments is likely to make it increasingly difficult for colleges to cultivate classes that cut across racial, social and economic lines.
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