College Decision Days and Racial Madness
By Kendall Baldwin, president of Teen Project RACE
Early but Late
On the evening of December 15th, I endured the longest five hours of my 17 year life! It was Early Action Decision Day for my first choice college and I was insanely nervous. I’d been counting down to 5 PM, the time decision emails were to arrive. At 4:57 I prayed with my Mom and at 4:58 logged in to my email and began repeatedly clicking refresh: 5:00. 5:01. 5:02. Well, I guess it takes a few minutes to send 4,500 emails.
- 5:10, 5:20, 5:30. Are you kidding me?
- 5:37. A friend who’d applied to the same college called to say she’d been deferred. Where was my email?
- 6:00. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.
- 7:00. Search twitter and see tweets from kids who have been accepted. Ugh.
- 8:00. Grandma calls from Ohio wondering why I haven’t called yet. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.
- 9:00. Frustrated and discouraged, I resolve myself to the fact that the email is not coming and head downstairs to study for the midterm I have the next morning.
- 10:07. My sister Kayci calls. She is away at school, but she was also parked in front of my email account incessantly clicking refresh. The email had finally come and, it turned out it was worth the wait!
Harvard Class of 2016 here I come!
Only for the Qualified
I have the most amazing and supportive friends. The next morning, they came to school with a crimson cake and sparkling cider to celebrate, and yet I know that there are some people who will suspect that I only got in to Harvard because of my race. As college acceptance decisions are rolling in, and in the wake of the President’s recent guidance on weighing race in admissions, the topic seems to be everywhere I turn. While it is justified and admirable for a school to consider race as it aims to create a student body that will result in a diversity of ideas and prepare students for a global world, from all I have seen, the most competitive colleges only accept well-qualified students. Schools like Harvard receive applications from many more qualified students than they can accept. Therefore, they must look to what makes one qualified student stand out above another. It may be that you are a legacy, a gifted athlete or musician.
It may be that you have done extensive benevolent work or impressive scientific research, or it may be that you have succeeded despite some difficult circumstances. Statistics show that Ivy League school recruited athletes have the highest admit rate of all, not underrepresented minorities. Yet, I rarely hear people griping that “he only got in because his Dad went there or because he’s a beast on the football field.”
My sister’s fiancé is graduating from Harvard this year. Yes, he is Puerto Rican and yes, he was a recruited athlete, but he was ALSO valedictorian of his high school class!! Being a minority certainly may give you an edge, but it is an edge given ONLY to those who are completely qualified and those who the school is confident will be strong contributors to the student body. So enough already!