It’s been about a month since the largest college admissions scandal broke out into the mainstream media. The scandal involved wealthy parents and coaches at elite colleges and universities, as well as independent counselors who provided services to connect these coaches with said parents in order to guarantee their child a spot in a prestigious education organization.

In the weeks since the scandal became a national news story, I have engaged in some research to get a better understanding of the college admissions system as a whole, the corruption and favoritism within which was at the forefront of this cheating scheme. After getting a broader picture of the system in which colleges and universities select their students, one thing is clear: Action must be taken to address the corruption, the loopholes, and the inequity of the admissions system to create a fairer and more equal way of including and attracting any and all prospective students to universities nationwide.

In my research, I looked at a variety of proposals, both mainstream and non-mainstream, to address shortfalls of the college admissions system. Below, I have compiled a series of proposals which I believe would help make the admissions process one that is fairer and more inclusive. Policy suggestions I have for lawmakers that would expand the scope of the admissions system and make it more equitable include:

  • Eliminating preferential treatment for applicants whose parents attended the university they’re applying to – a process commonly known as “legacy preferences” – in order to end the revolving door in the college admissions process mainly by wealthy families applying to elite colleges and universities to increase mobility for students of other backgrounds.
  • Capping the number of colleges and universities a student can apply to at five universities per student. This would enable each university to get a better understanding of the incoming pool of applicants to their school to better determine the students who have genuine interest in accepting their admission, which in turn means that universities would no longer have to rely so much on the early decision and early action process of admitting students–both processes that favor more wealthy applicants.
  • Requiring any special admission (other than athletic recruitments), also known as “admission by exception”, to gain approval from at least three administrative staff members prior to a student’s acceptance to increase checks and balances as well as to provide some level of oversight for students being admitted under a different system than the one in which most students use.
  • Requiring admission by means of athletic recruitments to gain approval from at least five administrative staff members as well as approval from the coach recruiting the athlete prior to a student’s acceptance to further provide strict oversight for the process of admitting students for athletic achievements.
  • Providing subsidies based on a 1 to 1 federal-state matching system that would eliminate the cost of application fees to any public university for prospective applicants with family income under $100,000 a year and would eliminate the cost of application fees and campus visit travel expenses for prospective applicants with family income under $50,000 a year. This would allow middle and lower-income students to have a chance to truly engage in the process of choosing the best college to attend in their pursuit for higher education without the costs of applying to colleges and traveling to campus serving as a barrier to entry.
  • Completely separating the fundraising and admissions departments at all universities and banning school fundraising departments from sharing financial information regarding any donors that contributed financially to the school, drastically reducing the influence of wealthy donations on the process of admitting students to universities.
  • Requiring that all donations towards colleges and universities exceeding $5,000 be anonymous and protecting such anonymity. This would further decrease the influence of wealthy donations on the process of college admissions and would decrease a college’s reliance on a small number of wealthy donors, prompting them to expand their fundraising network towards prioritizing a large number of smaller dollar donors.
  • Implementing a College and University Admissions Lottery (CUAL) system through the Department of Education which would utilize a government-determined algorithm to randomly select 5% of rejected students in all colleges and universities for admission into a college they applied to. The development of this algorithm would be non-biased on race, ethnicity, wealth, gender, or nationality, and would avoid duplicates and redundancies, meaning that a student cannot be admitted to two or more schools under the CUAL system.By implementing the proposals I have put forth in this piece of writing, I believe that we would have a phenomenal foundation and a promising start towards making the college admissions system fairer and more equal for up and coming college students like myself and my younger sister. I concede that this is not, and should not, be treated as a proposal that would create a perfect admissions system for colleges and universities; rather it is the start of a broader conversation we should have on how to make equitable education a possibility and reality for all students.


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