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"Affirmative Action" for 1st Gen/Low Income College

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https://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-college-tuition-why-bill-and-melinda-gates-put-20000-students-through-college/

Article about Princeton changing parameters to look at giving lower income students a chance.  I think this is awesome.  I would so much rather see this than preference just because somebody's dad went to the same school. Also, I think this type of preference doesn't arouse the same kind of anger and resentment.  Although I dunno, maybe it would if it became prevalent. 

Over the next 30 years minority representation more than doubled to 40 percent. But it wasn't enough. 60 percent of its students were still from the top ten percent income bracket. So Princeton decided to start recruiting students based on socio-economic status.

Christopher Eisgruber: We realized we had to train our readers in the admissions office to look for different things in these applications. A kid who's working two jobs to help bring money home and achieving great grades isn't going to have the same kind of extracurriculars as a kid from an elite private school in New York.

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As granddaughter, daughter, and wife to someone who used attending a top college to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, I 100% support these types of initiatives. Applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds don't have the kind of help that upper-middle-class and affluent applicants do from parents, parents' friends, private admissions consultants, school guidance counselors, etc. My DH was valedictorian of his high school class but never considered applying to Stanford until 1 teacher at his high school (that he attended on scholarship) suggested it.

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Going though the application process with my kids has made me really appreciate how hard the process is without parents with college experience to guide them. It’s a “you don’t know what you don’t know” kind of thing.

I don’t pay much attention to the elite schools and what goes on there because it isn’t really of interest to my family. But I have personally seen kids at state schools hampered by things like their parents not understanding what a credit hour is. My ds goes to a school with a strict policy of dropping students who do not attend the first class meeting. The parents FB page had a bunch of parents upset because their kids did not attend their first class meeting of classes that met “TR”, assuming that meant that the class just met on Thursday. I understand the confusion but parents that had college experience would help their students avoid that pitfall. 

My dh taught at cc and had a student miss class because he couldn’t find room MWF. (Which of course were the days the class met).

I really do think students whose parents did not go to college are at a disadvantage. Not sure what the answer is to that but I don’t resent extra support for first generation students.

Edited by teachermom2834
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(Bah. Nevermind. I don't have time to get wrapped up in a discussion.)

Edited by Kinsa

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There has always been a lot of controversy about any kind of affirmative action, because it can seem unfair.  Plus kids get tarred with that brush, and then anyone in those groups is assumed to be inferior.  This is happening right now with AA kids at my old high school.  Ironically, affirmative action was banned from admissions decisions there ages and ages ago, but other kids (Asian ones from my observations on the alumni page of those who are vocal about this) assume that they are only there because of affirmative action and won't let them into study groups or lab teams.  It's a mess, a very discriminatory one.  BTW, I don't believe that the affirmative action objection is the only one, but it IS the one that is vocalized.  And it's not even true.

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Just now, Kinsa said:

I don't know, I'm torn.  My husband and I are both 1st gen to go to college (aside: both of us also have parents who were high school drop outs), both of us from lower socio-economic backgrounds, yet we both managed to put it all together without all the handholding. Sooo... ??? Not that I think it is BAD to help 1st gens go to college, but I'm not sure the extra coddling is needed? 

To be able to win acceptance to an ultra-selective school? Yes, it is necessary. Simply having good grades, class ranking, and standardized test scores aren't enough at schools that practice "holistic" admissions. Upper-middle-class and affluent students have a ton of resources available to help them "package" themselves. I don't believe for a second that they're smarter or more deserving of admission than students with similar grades & test scores from disadvantaged backgrounds but on paper they look way more impressive.

Here's an example of an advantage I had in applying to Stanford that my DH didn't have: when I was a junior in high school, the then-new president of Stanford came out to speak at the alumni association near my house. My dad's friend was a Stanford alumnus and invited me to go to the event. I was an editor of my high school newspaper and the suggestion was made to me (can't remember if it was my dad or his friend) that I should request to interview the university president. He did accept my interview request and it was something I was able to write about in one of the essays about why I wanted to attend Stanford. My DH grew up lower-middle-class and no one in his family's social circle was an alumnus of an elite college. The president might've spoken to the alumni association near where DH lived as well and if so, presumably would've been willing to grant DH an interview for his school paper but it's not something that would've been on DH's radar screen like it was mine. 

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I think the challenge of persistence is greater than the challenge of admission.  Getting in is only half the battle for first gen/low income students.  The article points out how children of college grads have more of an awareness of how things work once they arrive on campus.  It sounds like campuses are more and more aware of this and provide resources for students, but how can they ensure that students will avail themselves of these resources? Is the burden on the student to seek them out or on the institution to continue to reach out?  I think the issue of persistence is a complicated one. 

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Yes, well I’m not sure that people who claim they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, so they’re not sure anyone really needs “ extra coddling” aren’t clueless, heartless, and really, really cold.

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Yes, it's not about coddling, it's more about opportunity.  Also, affirmative action has poor connotations, but there are selection choices being made every day, and there is no way to deny that.  Any college can choose what it prioritizes in selecting.  Extra-curriculars (as mentioned in the article), family connections, even just the judgment of the person reading an essay or doing an interview.  College acceptances have never been an objective process, especially at the upper level schools. With all those issues already in play, I would be glad to see economic class added to the mix.  

I agree persistence is needed, and that will show who really wants it... once they are given a chance.

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33 minutes ago, Carol in Cal. said:

There has always been a lot of controversy about any kind of affirmative action, because it can seem unfair.  Plus kids get tarred with that brush, and then anyone in those groups is assumed to be inferior.  This is happening right now with AA kids at my old high school.  Ironically, affirmative action was banned from admissions decisions there ages and ages ago, but other kids (Asian ones from my observations on the alumni page of those who are vocal about this) assume that they are only there because of affirmative action and won't let them into study groups or lab teams.  It's a mess, a very discriminatory one.  BTW, I don't believe that the affirmative action objection is the only one, but it IS the one that is vocalized.  And it's not even true.

 

I think that's true about other preferences, as in, "He only got in because his daddy's a big donor" kind of thing.  There will always be judgment, and there will always be favoritism of one kind or another. As long as it's okay to give preference to family connections, I find it hard to argue it's not okay to give preferences in other areas that might actually help society.

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1 hour ago, teachermom2834 said:

Going though the application process with my kids has made me really appreciate how hard the process is without parents with college experience to guide them. It’s a “you don’t know what you don’t know” kind of thing.

I really do think students whose parents did not go to college are at a disadvantage. Not sure what the answer is to that but I don’t resent extra support for first generation students.

 

Amen to that! It was ridiculously complicated.

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