What Colleges Want in an Applicant (Everything) by Eric Hoover delves into the the volatile and often unfair world of college admissions. The article start by saying that a wide majority of colleges (87%) accept over 50% of their applicants, and the where the system is really broke is the the 13% of the colleges who are highly selective and seen as the highest tier of academic institutions. This article specifically talks about the things college admissions are looking for in these high tier institutions, and how often times that is an unfair and broken system. One such thing is the focus on merit, which has seemingly been reduced to a students test scores on the ACT/SAT, and grades. More than anything else in the college admission process, “merit” is weighed the most heavily. The problem with this is that these tests are seen as unfair measures of a person’s intelligence. White and Asian descent individuals perform better on average than their African American and Minority counterparts. While for the people who fall on the higher rungs have the resources and privilege to concentrate on school and preparing for these tests, people of lower socioeconomic status are not given the same opportunity. These opportunities that fall outside of our control are often times a determining factor in the measured “success” of an individual in the game of college admissions. On the other side of the coin, around 50% of the population sees the consideration of race in college admissions as unfair. With a slew of other practices that are purely based on the luck of the draw with family ties and economic status such as legacy, demonstrated interest, and financial gain – or ability to pay for attendance of a college – many kids who perform at a high level fall through the cracks as other with privilege are allotted admittance. How do we change this? This article proposes that to fix the entire system the top must be fixed first. These high tier colleges need to take the prerogative to make the admissions process more fair and comprehensive if we hope to create equality in higher education. Many of these colleges are taking such steps, such as MIT’s maker portfolio or other colleges pushing for a measurement of a person’s EQ. The goal is to change the college admissions process from a lottery of privilege and external factors that lie outside of the applicants control to a comprehensive analysis of holistic qualities that determine the most successful and deserving students.

To see just how broken the system really is you need look no further than the recent scandal of the wealthy and affluent. In College Admissions Scandal: Department of Education opens Probe of Yale, USC, and Other Schools by Doha Madani, the Government’s efforts to see just how big the college admissions scandal reaches is described. So far over 50 people have been criminally changed for the admissions scandal where children of affluent parents were admitted to high tier colleges through cheating, fraud, and donations to make people look the other way. The government is investigating the schools involved and making sure that all those who allowed such an atrocity to happen are held accountable. Yet, personally, I am not surprised. With a system that is so subjective in choosing who is admitted, things such as donating or cheating don’t seem to be so far outside of what is feasible in determining which students are admitted. I am in no way criticizing the institutions at large, but instead suggesting that changes need to be made so scandals like this one won’t happen again.

In Elite-College Admissions are Broken by Alicia Wong describes a college system that promotes an anxiety filled highschool void of the activities a teenager should be experiences. For some high schoolers, tireless nights full of ACT/SAT studying and doing activities to solely boost their college resume is a reality. These people often feel pressure to over exaggerate or even lie about themselves. An admissions process that rewards unethical behavior is surely a broken one.


Wong, Alia. “Elite-College Admissions Are Broken.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 14 Oct. 2018, www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/10/elite-college-admissions-broken/572962/.

Madani, Doha. “College Admissions Scandal: Department of Education Opens Probe of Yale, USC, Other Schools.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/college-admissions-scandal-department-education-opens-probe-yale-usc-other-n987666.

Hoover, Eric. “What Colleges Want in an Applicant (Everything).” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Nov. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/11/01/education/edlife/what-college-admissions-wants.html?module=inline.


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April 8, 2019 6:17 pm

I love how you discussed factors beyond an applicant’s control, and how they are often deciding factors in that person’s admission. I have personally felt this through the college application process, and felt that certain things out of my control worked against me. It’s frustrating and unfair, and I believe that colleges should reevaluate their admission process. Thank you for sharing!

April 1, 2019 2:31 am

I think it’s interesting that you pointed out how students not only feel pressure to do well on the ACT/SAT, but also tend to exaggerate themselves on their applications. I definitely felt that kind of pressure when I was applying for my schools, and I felt that my application didn’t reflect who I am as a person.

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