College Access & the Admissions Office

As a higher education professional who works with low-income, first-generation college students at a large, top-tier research university, I believe the admissions office plays the role of the “gatekeeper” in terms of providing access to prospective college students. Their practices and policies definitely lean in favor of those from higher income families who are more versed in the admissions process.

A recent article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Why the Admissions Office May Be Part of the Problem of College Access” discusses this issue.

“The admissions office, especially at highly selective institutions, is the agent that keeps these students out of college in the first place, by creating a game that is heavily skewed in favor of students from high-income, well-educated families.”

Like the author, who is also a higher education professional, I too believe that it is time to change the requirements and means of evaluating students for college admissions. Admissions requirements still weigh test scores as an indicator of college admissions by using scores to assess the success they believe students will have at their institutions. However, research should have taught us long ago, that low-income and/or minority students are are more likely to have lower standardized test scores (SAT, ACT, etc.), than their counterparts.

Additionally, other factors such as class rank (which can be heavily based on the amount of AP (Advanced Placement), IB (International Baccalaureate) or honors courses students take, depending on the schools and their methods of calculating grade point averages and ratios), letters of recommendation, legacy status, and extracurricular activities are also weighted heavily. But what if a student from a lower socioeconomic status (SES) background had to work after school to provide for himself and contribute to the family income, and was unable to be involved in extracurricular activities? what if that same student was first-generation and no one ever talked to him about the importance of networking, building relationships with college officials, high school counselors, admissions reps, teachers etc. in order to get a great letter of recommendation or proofread his admissions essays? And what if that student made all A’s in all of his classes, but did not have the chance to graduate in the top 10% of his high school class because he was not in AP or IB classes? Finally, what if he did not have the money or additional resources needed for ACT or SAT prep classes, so he did not make high scores on his exams? Does he not deserve to be admitted into a selective university? Does his lack of money and social capital automatically mean that he will not succeed in college? After all, he did maintain high grades while being employed and taking on family responsibilities at home, which can sometimes make it more difficult to manage time effectively than students who are involved in clubs and organizations.

According to the article, if institutions want to continue to increase the enrollment of first-generation, low-income, or minority students, there should be an expectation that the admissions offices do more. I agree, but I also add, that additional measures and services must be implemented to support students before they set foot on campus, while they are learning how to navigate the college environment during their first-year, and beyond. These students come with a unique set of challenges that begin once they accept admission, and these challenges must be addressed not underscored or dumped into student affairs or students services offices. Academic affairs must also assist. It should be the interest of everyone entity on campus that has a connection with the students to understand and accommodate their unique needs, if the mission of the institution truly endeavors to provide them with the best education and opportunity for development possible.

Source: Chronicle of Higher Education http://chronicle.com/article/Why-the-Admissions-Office-May/150883/ 

 

 

Shared Posts #1: The price of being Black and “OK”

A friend of mine sent me an email with a link to this post and I had to share it! I believe it is powerful, thought provoking, beautiful, scary, and true. As an academic working at an institution that is considered to be “elite” within the state and has national prestige, I often question my worth, my work, my progress, and sense of belonging here on campus and within the “college town” community where I live. I also often wonder how what I am doing, or not doing for “my people” impacts black lives. Finally, in lieu of recent events in this country involving racial matters, I have been pondering the question “What is the price that we as Black people in America must pay in order to be ok?”

Please read, comment, and share!

Link: My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK

The Tale of an HBCU with a 90% White Student Population

Bluefield college 5

One of the most interesting stories regarding Higher Education that I have come across recently is about an HBCU, Bluefield State (Historically named Bluefield Colored Institute), that now has a 90% White student population. I must admit, that I have never come across any other stories on the history of the declining Black student population at this institution, nor have I ever heard much about it at all. But it was both shocking and sad to learn what has come of the legacy of this institution. Below is the link to what I read about it. I encourage you to read it and comment if you would like to share your thoughts!

The Whitest Historically Black College in America– Link

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Closing the “color” Gap in Public Schools: An open discussion

How can we increase the population of minority public school educators and administrators in this country? Our schools are populated with students of color, but few educators of color to teach and lead them…. For more details on this alarming problem, see the following article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/03/student-teacher-demographics_n_5738888.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000595 Please feel free to provide comments.

 

The Mike Brown “Special”

Are you disturbed yet? Are you really understanding what has been going on in our society for decades? Do you truly understand the social injustices that continue to occur? That we are NOT a “post-racial” society? That systems of power, privilege, and oppression are still in full force? Wake Up, Realize, Learn, Challenge the system, become a Change Agent!

Mike Brown Special

An Open Discussion on Money & Racism in the US

Rascism

 

 

 

 

money

Racism and Money are both topics that spur much dialogue, debate, research, controversy, and a plethora of emotions.

Although some people believe that we are now a “post racist” society, there are many who still believe that because of historical institutional contexts, racism still very well exists in today’s society.

Moving along to the subject of money,

even typing the phrase “money in America” into Google brings forth a wide array of topics, resources, and information from images of the US dollar, to articles on the use of money as a form of social control, to money and politics, and even wealth inequality in America.

So let’s once again combine the two concepts “Money and Racism.” When I first think of these two concepts together, my mind instantly tries to make a correlation between the two and prompts instant questions like: Is money one of the institutional ideologies that contribute to racism? Is money one of the major reasons for the proliferation of racism in America? How did money and racism contribute to the success and decline of slavery in America? Does racism play into the economic disparities among racial/ethnic groups in the US? Is money a system of social control that involves racism in some way?

Again, there are certainly opposing views and opinions about all of these questions. In my opinion, our capitalist society yields both positive and negative influences on our economic and social positions as a nation, and racism definitely plays into this. We cannot deny that there is economic disparity within this country that is directly tied to racism. We also cannot deny that there are systems of oppression in place that contribute to the disparity of wealth but also contribute to the inability for certain people to progress economically. This means that our ideal of capitalism that we hold so near and dear in society is tainted and distorted.

One thing I believe that we can and should do is discuss this issue in a civil manner. While I continue to explore the correlation between these two concepts, feel free to take a look at other viewpoints/sources of info. on the web and comment that I have provided below.

I believe this to be a fascinating topic of discussion that is long overdue on BBS. Will you contribute to the discussion? Your contributions are strongly encouraged!

  1. American Money: The Economic Origins or Racism from BET News :   http://www.bet.com/news/national/2013/02/05/american-money-the-economic-origins-of-racism.html
  2. Racism is About Money and Power: The Race Card Project : http://theracecardproject.com/racism-money-power/
  3. Racism Influences How People Deal with money: Jezebel: http://jezebel.com/5795514/racism-influences-how-people-deal-with-money

Your Values are Wrong, but Reformation is Here!: Social Justice Training on a College Campus

Social-Justice

In an article recently passed on to me by a friend, I read about a new “student development model” that was implemented at the University of Delaware. The model was said to be a “student centered- values education model” aimed at social justice education and implemented by Resident Assistants through the department of residence life. My take on it is that having been reviewed by the American College Personnel Association’s Commission for Social Justice Educators, leads me to believe that good intentions were at the forefront of the program although some of the details on its utilization and results are alarming. With that being stated, let me expound on my thoughts. First of all, I would hope that the there are specific learning outcomes grounded in theory which form the basis of the program. Secondly, I would hope that the needs assessment or some other crucial assessment/instrument has bee utilized in order to ascertain the issue that the program seeks to resolve. Is there truly a need for this model? To this extent? etc. Thirdly, I would hope that both the trainers (most likely community directors/coordinators or other professionals) are well versed enough to properly train, advise, and supervise the Resident Assistants (RAs). Next, I would hope that the RAs have undergone extensive and continuous training, including experiential learning, student development theory, identity theory (for themselves), as well as counseling skills, etc. in order to truly help and not hinder the development of the students in the residence halls.

What comes across alarming to me are the definitions used for training, use of labels such as “treatments” for the program, and the mere idea of putting something so heavy on RAs. Although by definition in many regards they serve as peer educators and peer advisors, they are also seen as peer role models to students. This brings about many potential issues and not to mention a vast amount of cognitive dissonance from many students already undergoing transitions and issues that are faced with the acclimation to college academics and college life. Additionally, the tactics said to be used in order to gain participation from students and/or “treat” them for their lack of participation and willingness to disclose information are also alarming. Educated, trained, and experienced professionals in student affairs and counseling would be best suited for any programs/models of this nature. Indeed for me, at first read, this is particularly disturbing. However, more information is needed for my true understanding of the matter at hand and I plan to further investigate. To read the article, follow this link : http://thefire.org/article/9865.html or visit the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education website and search for the article “Please Report to your Resident Assistant to Discuss your Sexual Identity–It’s Mandatory!: Thought Reform at the University of Delaware.”