Special Reports

Diversity in Education: Issues In The College Admission Process


The college admission process is an issue that deserves to be scrutinized. Students feel the pressure to pack themselves, especially those low-income and underrepresented non-white applicants - to uphold "diversity." However, despite the affirmative action by the Supreme Court in the case of Fisher versus the University of Texas, people still have an unclear definition of diversity.

Natasha Warikoo, author of The Diversity Bargain: And Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities, examines the paradoxes of diversity in her book. It set out her experiences in the 1990's as an Indian-American student, later as a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, then as a visiting professor at the University of London. The book discusses how college students with diverse backgrounds at Oxford, Harvard, and Brown universities perceived diversity and eventually being admitted to college. This situation is greatly impacting the US where universities demonstrate "holistic" evaluations of college applicants and calibrate scores in SAT and are also dependent on some other factors that include legacy status, athletic recruitment, and race.

Warikoo discovers at Brown and Harvard universities that diversity is praised and supported by students. These students support diversity as they believe that it increases the collective merit of the student body.

Admission offices still are reluctant in acknowledging race as a factor in their process of evaluation. Harvard and Brown use words like "identity" and "perspective" when it comes to criteria in the admission process. Williams College also do not explicitly acknowledge as such, despite the fact that there is twice the size of the percentage of students of color and those who are the first generation in their families who will attend college this fall.

However, there are limitations in Warikoo's research. The researcher provides a closer look to view this cultural aspect. Along this way, equality is threatened by diversity if not supported with financial efforts to equalize opportunity, as reported by The Atlantic. 

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