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White People and College Admissions - It's Complicated...

Of course, I kid with that title - you know that, right?

But I have to tell you, there's stuff going on with white people and college admissions that, given the fact I have a rising junior who I expect will go to college, I should be interested in. Lottery_1

It all revolves around who gets the offer - which seems talent-related (as is education as a whole) so I'm covering it here.

There's two flavors going on with white people and college admissions.  Allow me to break down what I see:

1--The first flavor is white people without stellar GPAs, test scores, etc. not being able to get into universities that were once thought to be a given.  In Georgia, the state used lottery money to guarantee a form of college scholarship for the masses (read more on the Hope Scholarship by clicking on the link).  One result of more people having the means to attend college was that some affluent families no longer had the ability to get a middling-performing son or daughter into the University of Georgia, because now everyone could afford it.  Interesting, right?  

2--The second - and more problematic - flavor of white people and college admissions is that many families have kids with great GPAs and test scores, but a) due to universities seeking to become more diverse, some high achieving white kids can't get in, and b) if they do, there's no financial aid available on merit (Georgia notwithstanding) due to what the family earns.  

I don't understand all the issues yet, but a year or so ago I read a great post by my friend Tim Sackett who went on a parent rant and penned a gem of a post.  Here's taste, you should go read it all:

"My middle son is about to make his college choice. He’s got some great schools that have accepted him. He has some great ones that did not. His dream school was Duke. He also really liked Northwestern, Dartmouth, and UCLA. He has a 4.05 GPA on a 4.0 scale (honors classes give you additional GPA) and a 31 on his ACT (97th percentile of all kids taking this test).  He had the grades and test scores to get into all of those schools.

What he didn’t have was something else.

What is the something else?

He didn’t come for a poor family. He didn’t come from a rich family. He wasn’t a minority. He doesn’t have some supernatural skill, like shooting a basketball. He isn’t in a wheelchair. He isn’t from another country.

He’s just this normal Midwestern kid from a middle-class family who is a super involved student-athlete, student government officer, award-winning chamber choir member, teaches swimming lessons to children, etc., etc., etc.

What is the other something else, from a financial perspective?

He got into Boston College, another dream school for him, and one that wanted him to come and continue his swim career at the Division 1 level. BC also costs $68,000 per year.

Colleges and U.S. Federal Government hate kids who come from families that do the right thing.  What’s the “right thing”?  He comes from a family that pays their mortgage, saved some money for his tuition and put money away for retirement.

Because he comes from a family that made good decisions, Boston College, and the Federal Government thought it was a good idea for him to pay $68,000 per year to attend their fine university."

I liked the initial comments coming from both sides in reaction to Tim's post that I subscribed to the comments.  Every week, like clockwork, I get a gift - someone else has posted a comment with a hot take on the situation Tim identified.

With a rising junior starting to look at colleges, I just became interested in this talent issue.  I'm sure I'll be back to write about what I see.  Buckle up - I'll be back next spring with a hot take of my own.



MW says...
If any of theses fine Universities receive state or federal tax money then we as parents should openly protest the fairness of not accepting students from this white middle class tax paying citizenry.... I doubt the presidents of these institutions would want to alienate the citizen tax payers who keep their institutions funded. So much more that could be done with this train of thought, such as include elected officials in government office. Change can be accomplished when the masses work together. Imho.


Thanks for sharing this respective, I'll look forward to reading more. I think it is worth considering this and the other unfair practices that have negatively impacted various communities and caused Universities to process acceptances and loans this way. I see this as the Universities having to overcompensate for discrimination against whole communities that have limited access to good education particularly for black and Hispanic communities. For example, the documentary "13th" is an interesting watch related to this topic. It discusses the issue of mass incarceration which has disproportionately impacted black and Hispanic families which directly and indirectly impacts educational opportunities (a parent in prison isn't able to support their child relationally or financially in the way a parent who is at home can). It is unfair for a student to have to grow up and try to navigate their education with a parent in prison who found themself there because they were targeted based on their demographic (see the "13th" documentary for statistics). I agree that it's not fair for white middle class students to be rejected from Universities based on their demographic, but I think part of advocating for a solution should include a conversation about these other issues since they're all interconnected. Thanks for raising these topics for discussion.


Hi MW and Anne -

One of the reasons I like the Hope Scholarship in GA is that they started with a "you can't have this if your parents make too much", but changed it so it was a pure meritocrazy without regard to family income. That way, you're providing opportunity for all without regard to financial status. Anne, agree with you on all the stuff in the past. Hard to reconcile the best way forward. The clear answer is all must have opportunity, especially those without it in the past. But leaving out those not impacted in the past has a funny way of building resentment as well - not an easy question to answer...

Thanks - KD

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