Future college students’ opinions vary when it comes to affirmative action

By Maya Clever

The Baldwin School

When considering a student for college admission, many know colleges acknowledge socioeconomic status, extracurricular activities, and, of course, grades. But some prospective college students also know that their race could play a big factor in their college process.

At The Baldwin School, an all-girls private school in Bryn Mawr, students thinking about college say they both see and face the benefits and costs of affirmative action policies that favor individuals belonging to groups known to have face past discrimination.

“Without it, marginalized groups would not have the same opportunities,” said Sasha Wayman, a black student at The Baldwin School.

Since the 1970s, the percentage of American college students who are racial minorities increased from under 5 percent to nearly 20 percent in 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

“The point of college is to go to higher education because you deserve to be there,” Wayman said.

Students of different backgrounds say they all see the benefits of the concept of affirmative action and its ability to increase diversity within colleges and universities. But when it comes down to reality, the line of whether or not it actually accomplishes its goal begins to blur.

“Because we’re Asian it’s not enough for us to be smart,” said Sophia Lee, an Asian-American student at The Baldwin School. “In America, you have to be more than smart. … There are so many stereotypical Asian nerds out there, colleges are kind of sick of them.”

And for many white students, the line can split either way. For example, Carly Brechner, a white student at The Baldwin School, says she thinks affirmative action starts to go too far when there isn’t “a natural sense of inclusion and diversity. … It shouldn’t feel forced.”

In 2018, the Trump administration stated it was abandoning the Obama administration’s agreement of race and socioeconomic class being factors in college admissions.

And, given the 2020 elections, high school students are considering how this could affect the type of schools that may be looking at them.

“I think it’s interesting that this matter is politicized,” Bechner said. “Obviously presidents have their own opinion about it but they aren’t going through the college process.”

If Trump were to be elected to another term, his views on affirmative action would probably continue as well.

“When people start pushing beyond what’s equal, sometimes the pendulum swings too far before it settles back down. Everyone shouldn’t discount the other party just because they are fighting for themselves,” Lee said.

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