Should race be considered in college apps?


Illustration by Rebecca Newman

Jenna Lyons and Ceci Musgrove


SAT score, GPA, extracurricular activities, personal essays. Should a student’s race be grouped with these as criteria for getting into college?

Over the summer, previously made guidelines that promoted the consideration of race on applications were removed, meaning universities are no longer required to ask for that information.

While race shouldn’t be the main criteria for students hoping to get into a university, it ensures that top-ranked schools maintain diversity. 

For a long time, higher education was reserved for mostly white students, and today we can still see the remnants of that in demographic studies. This is especially true for higher-ranked universities.

Enrollment in the 468 best-funded and most selective four-year institutions is 77 percent white, according to the Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce.

Looking at statistics like this, people could argue that the white students who get accepted have just earned better grades and worked for admission to top tier schools.

But the same research also found that nearly a third of black and Hispanic students with high school grade-point averages of 3.5 or better end up at community colleges, compared to 22 percent of white students with the same grades.

This means that many students of color simply aren’t getting the education they deserve after high school.

Students with the same grades from different demographics should be able to get into the same level of higher education if admissions were truly based on academic standing alone. 

Having guidelines for universities that encourage them to accept a more equal range of students would be the only way to ensure that the playing field is even.

Those who argue against race as a deciding factor in college admissions often say it is unfair to students who may have been accepted if there was not a cap on their demographic.

Often, this argument is made for white students who feel that a minority has “taken away” their spot in a university. The issue with that is if there was never a racial bias in admissions, the white student wouldn’t feel more entitled to acceptance in the first place.

A student’s race is probably not the first thing universities are looking at.  Academic achievements and SAT scores are still the major criteria in admission decisions.

With more people applying to universities than ever before, the admissions process has become more and more competitive, and race is more of a last deciding factor than major criteria.

Social justice advocates often bring up the issue that there is a lack of diversity in the business and political world. 

These are exactly the places that diversity needs to be. Without diversity in the business world, we are missing out on endless opportunities for innovation that come from people of all backgrounds.

A lack of diversity in the political realm means there aren’t as many voices being heard when policies are made.

When more young people of color are educated at the top-tier schools that teach students to be CEOs or congressmen, they will gain more opportunities to make the world a better place.

A more diverse workforce begins with more diverse education, which can be achieved by using race as a factor in college education.


College applications are one of the most stressful times in a teen’s life, but having your race be a determining factor in whether we get into school makes it that much more stressful. 

Some might argue that colleges will use this intense algorithm to determine how to make their college more “diverse,” but what does it really mean for a college to have a diverse campus? 

When I think of a diverse campus, I often think of people from every background getting an education together. 

That doesn’t mean race should determine whether someone is accepted to a college or not. 

For someone like me, a Mexican-Native American, I grabbed the attention of many colleges at the beginning of my freshman year.

It wasn’t hard for me to receive scholarship offers if I decided to accept admission at their school.

 However, I would know that I didn’t earn my place there because my acceptance would have been based on my racial heritage, not my academic performance. 

If I didn’t work hard enough, but got accepted because they wanted to make their campus look more diverse, someone who worked hard to get in now couldn’t attend because I took their spot. 

If I decided to go to a school because of my race, then I deny the opportunity for someone to get into their dream school. 

If we can change our grades or the number of hours we spend volunteering, but our race can’t be changed, why should it be a factor in admission to a school?

Race should not play a role in whether someone gets accepted to a college. Simply put, race shouldn’t be a factor because it is unethical and unfair. 

It’s unethical for universities to judge us and tell us whether we can attend the school based on our race. And this is where we’re supposed to receive a higher education?

 California, Michigan, and Washington are the only states where public colleges and universities do not participate in affirmative action, a policy that aids individuals that have historically suffered from discrimination. 

But not all of the historically discriminated people agree with racial and ethnic quotas being used in college admissions. 

Some of them, specifically  the organizations representing Asian Americans, have joined to oppose racial and ethnic preferences that benefit white students who may not be able to compete head-to-head with Asian  Americans when it comes to academics. 

They believe that these preferences unfairly keep qualified Asian American students out of top universities, solely because of their ethnicity.

 From 2012 to 2016 support for affirmative action fell from 78 percent to 41 percent among Chinese Americans, according to the Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders data center.

Race and diversity is something that colleges feel is a significant factor to be accepted at their school.

But colleges should be focusing on how to educate students to be the future leaders of America, not deciding that someone of a certain ethnic background can’t get an education there. 

Students’ background and racial identity is not something they should be judged on no matter what. 

The racial and ethnic background of a person should not be involved in the college admissions process because it’s unfair to everyone involved.