The Importance of Merit Only Admissions

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College Admissions is no simple thing. From considering diversity, to academic accomplishments, to yield rate, among other influencing factors, the process of admitting students into college in todays world is no easy task. In our simulation, we worked as group to create an incoming class of 3 admitted students to the best of our abilities whilst still considering all the factors i just mentioned; on top of handling a 70,000 dollar financial aid (Color & Money, The College Simulation)  budget which we had to divvy out through our own discretion. Ultimately, we admitted students almost entirely based on who possessed the highest levels of merit in their applications, as we should have considering that merit is what matters most when admitting a student in an esteemed college. While diversity is an important factor in creating collegiate communities, admissions itself should be based on a students capabilities and the level to which they worked to achieve the right to be accepted to The College (or any established college). The color of ones skin does not determine the level of intelligence they possess, thus any student of any background or race is capable of achieving high merit in some form if they really set their mind to it. Ripping away the dreams of college acceptance from a capable hard working student with high merit just because they don’t meet the definition of “underrepresented minority” as presented by our government today is not only reprehensible but should be illegal- which is why all college admissions should be “color- blind” and based solely on the merit of the applicants presented.

The legality of college admissions becomes tricky when it come down to diversity and how to ensure a diverse student body.  As getting into college has become an increasingly difficult feat in recent years, many court cases have become important in determining the legality of policies such as affirmative action, and other race based admissions processes.  Affirmative action has been present for many years in the United States college admissions system in an attempt to take factors such as  “race, color, or national origin”  into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group “in areas of employment, education, and business” (National Archives, 1989).  However this policy came into question in 2003 in the supreme court case “Gratz v. Bollinger” addressing the University of Michigan’s take on the affirmative action policy in which they automatically awarded 20 points to underrepresented minorities.  In a 6-3 decision, the court decided, “”predetermined point allocations…. ensures that the diversity contributions of applicants cannot be individually assessed” and was therefore “unconstitutional” (Gratz V. Bollinger, 2003).  In other words, admissions offices could not use “quotas” in admitting minority  students, but they could consider ones ethnicity as a plus when considering their application.  We took this case -among others- to heart when doing our simulation, making sure that all of our race considerations were legal and didn’t use quotas.  Instead we looked for students who were qualified and hard working, those students who, regardless of their race, had put a monumental effort into achieving high levels of merit- whether it be through academics, athletics, extracurriculars, good character and so on. We made sure to avoid illegal actions such as quotas by making the first round of cuts almost entirely based on merit, using a point system to weed out those who had a lower academic standing and did not have the academic quality to be admitted to The College (Round 5 spreadsheet). By doing this, we were left with a list of the students with the highest levels of merit, and from there we were able to discuss how their ethnicity may play a part in their acceptance,  but would in no way a defining factor.

In doing our simulation, as i mentioned, we did have a point system, however not directly based on race.  Instead, we, in a sense used a loophole, by making our point system not directly based on race but instead based on the level of a students “diversity” which could mean any number of things (Round 4 spreadsheet, Diversity column).  This allowed us to legally consider all applicants while still considering their race and the diversity that it may bring to The College as a factor in admissions.  Moreover we, rightfully so, barely even considered the race of an applicant on any sort of major scale, only allocating a max of three points (out of a scale of 23) to diversity, and we didn’t really address it at any other point in our admissions process. This is important because admissions should be more focused on a student’s ability to succeed than on their ethnicity.  To hold a student of color to a lower standard than to say  that  a Caucasian one, is not only insulting but also discriminatory. The use of affirmative action does this by automatically giving “minority” students an advantage over those of “non- minority” backgrounds, regardless of class or socio-economic factors (National Archives, 1989).  a Every applicant is aware, when writing their application, that it is their merit which they will be judged on- and so it is only fair if we stay true to this and judge our applicants based on the merit which they have presented us with.

As Peter Thiel and David Sacks, two Stanford alumni, write, “Originally conceived as a means to redress discrimination, racial preferences have instead promoted it. And rather than fostering harmony and integration, preferences have divided the campus. In no other area of public life is there a greater disparity between the rhetoric of preferences and the reality” (Sacks, Thiel, 2013). They suggest that merit isn’t solely based on test scores or GPA’s, but also extracurriculars in athletics, music, and other efforts, “But race and ethnicity (or gender or sexual preference) do not have a place on this list; these are traits, not achievements (Sacks, Thiel, 2013). Our simulation provided us with the best incoming class possible.  Because we based our admissions on merit, as suggested by Thiel and Sacks, when our first couple of choices rejected the offer, our wait list still contained fantastic applicants academically.  Ironically we also ended up with a very diverse class, without even having intended it.  Jazmine Hope-Martin and Daniel Juberi are both minority students ( hispanic and african american) who, with little note to their ethnicity were still able to get into the college based on their academic stature and high merit, both being in the top 20% of their class. (Simulation, Applicant files).  Our color blind system worked extremely well, and could potentially be a good model for how actual college admissions could work.

All well minded students are capable of the same achievement, regardless of their race.  Race Conscious college admissions drive our society backwards, away from the “color blind” society that is desired by so many.  Merit is what makes a student a worthwhile applicant- whether that be through good character, excellent grades or test scores, or outstanding extracurriculars- it doesn’t matter which of these factors ultimately gets a student accepted into college, but it does matter if a student who deserves an accepted spot through their hard work and determination is unfairly denied this opportunity because of an outdated and discriminatory practice such as affirmative action.



Works Cited

“Executive Orders.” Executive Orders. 01 Oct. 2013 <>.


Thiel, Peter, and David Sacks. “The Case Against Affirmative Action.” Stanford Magazine. 01 Oct. 2013 <>.


“Jazmine Hope-Martin.” Simulation Applicant Files, Color & Money seminar at Trinity College, Fall 2013, <>


“Daniel Juberi.”  Simulation Applicant Files, Color & Money seminar at Trinity College, Fall 2013, < >


“Color & Money Admissions Simulation data.” Color and Money Seminar at Trinity College, Fall 2013,<>

“Round 5 Final Admissions Decisions and Managing Yield” Color and Money Seminar at Trinity College, Fall 2013 <>