A Radical Plan to Combat Inequality in College Admissions

It’s time universities began to think of themselves as producers of value, not arbiters of merit.

College admissions

It’s admissions season, and across the country, thousands of admissions officers sit in front of screens, reading files full of transcripts, test scores, extracurricular profiles, letters of recommendation, and, of course, essays. I was once one of these officers, spending emotionally exhausting 12-hour days reviewing thousands of applications from Ivy League hopefuls over a span of five months. When I was a new admissions officer, the importance of each application component was drilled into my head. Other factors, like legacy status or whether the student was a person of color, mattered, but those first five elements were key. At first, they seemed reasonable-enough measures of potential to succeed at an elite university. But after I saw how consistently our process created disadvantages for students who are low-income and people of color, my trust in the system faltered.