Making the College List

    For many students, 11th grade marks the year they begin seriously researching the colleges they will apply to. Many of these students, and their parents too, feel an urgency to get into an elite university because they believe this will determine their future career and beyond. For students from less privileged backgrounds, in particular, an elite college or university offers the promise of financial stability for themselves and...

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    Preparing the Application

    At this point, family expenditures on students often become more specific to the college admissions process. For instance, families may hire SAT tutors, or they may find a college counselor to help their child with their application essays and interview preparation. Students from lower-income backgrounds are less likely to access these resources, creating yet another disparity.

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    A Note on Donations

    Some particularly wealthy families are able to donate large sums of money to universities, donations that can be hard for admissions committees to ignore when making their decisions. Although legal, these donations raise significant ethical questions about the fairness of the college admissions process. For some, there’s little difference between donations like these and briberies.

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    Inside the Admissions Committee

    Family expenditures throughout high school can affect a student’s college acceptance prospects.However, once the application is sitting before admissions officers, colleges and universities have the opportunity to address some of the disparities in the resources and environments that have shaped each applicant through affirmative action programs and other similar initiatives that take into account more than just test scores, grades...

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    Closing the Gap

    A number of scholars have proposed comprehensive strategies for reforming the college admissions process, ranging from the bold to the truly radical. The following articles explore some of these ideas.

    Fishkin, Joseph. Bottlenecks. Oxford University Press, 2014. 

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    Student Commentaries

    While normative case studies are valuable discussion resources, they can also be equally useful as writing prompts. Writing case commentaries allows students to dive deeper into the ethical issues raised by the cases, learning how to engage in careful ethical reflection...

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