Affirmative action in college admissions – who’s right?
I have black hair, yellow skin, and small eyes. You guessed it: I am the prototypical Asian. And in the fall of 2012, I, along with thousands of other pupils of the same race, will be applying to the most competitive and comprehensive schools America has to offer. Before any of the top tier schools lay one retina on my essay, achievements, or GPA, I will be at a disadvantage, merely because I am a member of a race that has raised the standard of college admissions.
Affirmative action, a policy that seeks to benefit minority groups, is prevalent in the college admission process. African Americans, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders to name a few, enjoy an advantage over well-represented groups like Asians and Whites. Is affirmative action unfair? Sure it is; every year, Asian students that are more qualified than under-represented minority applicants will be rejected from their dream school, simply because of the immutable heritage they inherited.
But the more important question that needs to be raised is this one: is it necessary? Yes, affirmative action is not only necessary, but also obligatory on the part of society.
Native Americans represent 1% of the populations of Harvard, Northwestern, and Princeton, and 3% of Stanford. Most pie graphs showing the demographics of elite schools do not even display the Native American population because it is so miniscule. What’s the underlying reason beneath such discrepancies in statistics?
Culture. The cultures in which minority groups are brought up are fundamentally different from the upbringing of majority groups. Approach a middle class Asian student and ask if they’re taking SAT classes. Most of the time, you will get a yes. Approach a Native American student living in bucolic South Dakota and a blank look accompanied by a “What’s that?” is what you’ll get; trust me, I speak from first-hand experience.
So isn’t it appropriate that colleges offer a lending hand to the less privileged? If affirmative action were to be banned, kids living on the wrong side of town or students that have to juggle work and school to support their families will be left to compete with opulent households that invest lavishly on education. The harsh reality is that many of those kids are from under-represented minorities. Do we really want to entrench despondence and an ominous fate to the already struggling minority groups just barely hanging on? The answer is no; despite the injustice majority groups might face when they receive rejection letters in the spring, affirmative action engenders the type of society we ought to be: a scrupulous, altruistic, generous, and flexible one.