Why It's Important to Preserve Need-Blind Admissions Policies

Colleges and universities are experiencing unprecedented financial strain. It makes sense that they'd want to make some revenue by admitting students who can pay full tuition out of pocket. But will giving preference to these students set up a discriminatory reversal of a very important admissions policy?

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A Move Away From Need-Blind Admissions

In September, 2011, New York Times reporter Tamar Lewin wrote about a report from Inside Higher Ed that exposed a disturbing trend. According to the report, college and university admissions officers are starting to move away from need-blind admissions policies. These policies dictate that a student's financial status will not impact his or her admission status, making college a possibility for students without the means to pay tuition out of pocket. With budget cuts and financial woes impacting higher education like never before, it looks like need-blind policies are starting to be relaxed.

Need-Blind Admissions Are Essential for Equality

Though it's understandable that economic realities are making idealism increasingly impractical, it is nonetheless essential that need-blind admissions continue in some form. If having the up-front means to pay one's tuition becomes a requirement for college admissions, all but the very richest of U.S. citizens will have little to no access to higher education. Very few people can currently afford to pay $10,000-$50,000 out of pocket for anything, and the economic forecast doesn't look particularly encouraging on that front. The socioeconomic status of one's parents can hardly be seen as an accurate indicator of potential academic performance - and the Inside Higher Ed report confirms this, noting that on average, students who can pay full-price have lower test scores and grades.

A Different Angle

If the idea of a higher education system closed off to all but the most financially elite students doesn't convince you that need-blind admissions policies are necessary, consider this. Ultimately, do we want our college graduates to be the most wealthy, or the most capable? Need-blind admissions policies are a major force for meritocracy, selecting the most academically and intellectually qualified students for admission. This helps to designate colleges and universities as places of learning, rather than as exclusive clubs to which only the most privileged can gain access.

Though we may be moving toward a system wherein education is not as open as one might hope, it is still likely to be the case that a college degree serves as a ticket to the highest echelons of wealth and power in this nation. Do we really want to stock our corporate leadership and government agencies with those who bought, rather than worked, their way to the top?

Before coming to conclusions, you might want to get more information about the trend away from need-blind admissions.


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