Transparency and Accountability Within the American College Admission System and the Idea of Affirmative Action

A Call For Transparency in College Admissions

“It’s hard for an Asian to get into Stanford.” If I had a nickel for each time a phrase like that was thrown my way, perhaps college tuition may actually become affordable. Unfortunately, my chances of getting into any college are shrouded in mystery due to unknown factors within the college admissions process. Affirmative action is the idea of considering race, gender, and economic factors during college admissions in an attempt to combat institutional oppression, and effectively clouds the admissions process with mystery (“Affirmative Action”). Recently, Abigail Fisher, a white woman, has taken her case about rejection from the University of Texas and affirmative action in general to the supreme court (Fuchs). This has sparked large amounts of controversy. Affirmative action ought to exist, but more transparency within college admissions is needed to ensure it’s proper application and to prevent more tensions from rising.

Affirmative action is acknowledged as a way to create racial diversity, yet empirical evidence from TIME Magazine show that white women are the ones who have really drawn benefits (Kohn). Thus, both supporters and opposers of affirmative action are acting under a misinformed paradigm. Studies show that 63% of Americans support affirmative action on college campuses, yet 83% of them believe that it surrounds race, particularly African Americans or Hispanics (Drake). This all causes the debate about affirmative action to become convoluted. The ideals surrounding affirmative action are sensical, because it is the only way inherently disadvantaged groups can overcome that disadvantage. However, mass confusion causes a lot of angry discourse to ensue. Having more transparency within the college admissions system is the way to solve this problem because it will allow people to see how much weight is actually put on non-academic factors. It will also ensure that the ideal of affirmative action is implemented correctly, as it is unfair for admission officers to only operate behind closed doors.

Furthermore, confusion surrounding affirmative action can lead to frivolous lawsuits that increase racial tensions. Currently, Abigail Fisher is suing the University of Texas Austin for racism because she believes that she was rejected in 2008 due to her race. Her argument is that African American and Hispanic students with lower scores than her were accepted. She has been painted as a model student who was made a victim by racial biases in this widely publicized case. The publicity she has drawn has led to negative beliefs that many minority people do not deserve their positions. It has only served to increase racial tensions that affirmative action wished to erase. Fisher’s lawsuit ignores the fact that her GPA of 3.59 and SAT score of 1180 out of 1600 were only mediocre within UT’s competitive applicant pool, and that several white students with higher scores than her were rejected as well (Planas). Under a more transparent system of college admissions, it would be clear to see that Fisher was rejected not for her race, but simply for a lack of outstanding accomplishment. However, due to the mystery of college admissions, her case has been able to reach the supreme court, and has sparked aggressive and detrimental discourse surrounding race and privilege along the way.

There are many people who, like Fisher, believe that affirmative action ought to be abolished completely in order to ensure fair opportunities for everyone (“Time to Scrap”). However, they ignore the fact that certain groups of people are at an inherent disadvantage when it comes to education and careers. Races, genders, and economic classes that have been systematically oppressed do not possess the ability to spring up and match the ones who were once privileged. That privilege still exists, and as a means of reparation, affirmative action is a necessary course of action. Looking back to the first argument, studies have shown that affirmative action has helped women and can be useful. More transparency and accountability will ensure that this benefit can reach other oppressed groups as well.

When presented with the ability to freely exercise power, people tend to abuse it. This is shown in the novel Night by Elie Wiesel in which Nazi prison guards go out of their way to punish prisoners because they can. Leaving people with only a general ideology opens it up to interpretation that may not match the original intent. Though not a perfect metaphor, college admissions officers are also left to interpret affirmative action if they are not held accountable. Transparency is the only way to stop this.

In the status quo, people are unaware of the true impacts of affirmative action, and of who it really benefits. Frivolous lawsuits have raised tensions and have marginalized communities that truly need affirmative action to be given equal opportunities. If you care about fair opportunities and good education, as well as a more peaceful society, you would support having more transparency and accountability within the college admissions system while also upholding the idea of affirmative action.

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Transparency and Accountability Within the American College Admission System and the Idea of Affirmative Action. (2022, Nov 27). Retrieved May 24, 2024 , from

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