Race Isn’t Just a Color Thing

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This essay was assigned to be written from the perspective of a race advocate, and does not necessarily represent the views of the author.


Race Isn’t Just a Color Thing

Written by: Jasmine Gentry

When asked to “create a class” that will be entering The College represented by we admissions officers, who recently applied to college, the task seemed quite simple. We were gravely mistaken. The task was to narrow down the applicant pool from fifteen students to three based on overall ratings while taking into consideration academics, extracurricular activities, personal interest in The College, and background. Once all fifteen applicants were ranked, a financial aid round ensued, and acceptance letters were sent out in batches. The first three students who accepted the offer to attend The College were admitted. Our simulation, though legal, experienced a few hiccups that prevented the admittance of the best possible class due to a lack of equal educational opportunity. These hiccups, though seemingly small, held prospective students’ futures in their hands. These hiccups may be better known as over subjectivity, personal opinion, or ignorance of necessary qualifications. Our own biases weren’t the only obstacles. The College allocated us with an extremely small financial aid budget that was seemingly impossible to work with. In part, it’s evident that The College needs to rethink priorities: a phenomenal class or a cheap class? It was extremely hard for our group of admissions officers to decide what made a student qualified and the weight each aspect of the students’ application should carry. This may seem arbitrary since this was our first simulation, but the “reasoning” behind our inability to decide was pure ignorance of what it takes to be the best candidate for The College. Without that knowledge, the chance a student had in order to attend The College was extremely biased based on who was speaking in the discussion room. Our hiccups led to the absence of equal opportunity. Equal means something applies to a whole, a collective. Opportunity is a chance.  Equal opportunity in education is thus a chance for all students to be provided the best education.

Let’s start by addressing the simulation as a whole. There were no legal breaches in our simulation (the head of admissions made sure of it). However, the morality of our decision remains in question. Let’s face it; the simulation was completely biased based on the officer who was reviewing the application. Our personal beliefs of what was most important or notable affected the rating a certain student was given. For example, a big emphasis was placed on whether or not a student was private or public schooled and whether or not they had a good interview. Ironically enough, the officers who focused on these aspects presented the same characteristics in their own applications. Now, it may be said that those qualities are important, however, the high school a student attended and whether or not he or she interviewed isn’t necessarily controlled by the student.  There are extenuating circumstances that weren’t taken into consideration because of an officer’s point of view. We should’ve been looking at students with character. Character is built from background: race being an extremely influential factor. Why? Because if a student isn’t the same race as the majority of the students that will be attending The College, a certain stereotype implants itself, with the help of society, into the head of the minority student. There are common stereotypes that have made themselves prevalent in today’s society. Think about it, Black students are ghetto, Hispanic students can’t speak English, Asian students like math and only math, European students are rich and snobby, white students still can’t get over white supremacy. These never-fading ideas are implanted in the minds of children because society tells them it’s true. We build ourselves up on what we think we are, so if we think we’re a part of the stereotype, that’s where we will fall. It’s said that history repeats itself and therefore, “…race is an especially important aspect of diversity and deserves special attention because of the continuing salience of race and the historic, legalized race-based discrimination that existed in the United States.” (Katherine). Now, it has been said that the best candidates for The College will be good students despite outstanding circumstances, but in all honesty, the best students exist because of the outstanding circumstances.

The next question that arises is: did we create the best possible class? No. The best possible class would be culturally diverse, athletically talented, from all social classes, academically sound, artistically creative, composed of leaders and followers, and ultimately unique. The goal for The College is to provide the diversity that acts as a driving force for students to become “better learners and more effective citizens,” (Haas). We tried to create this kind of class in the beginning when we first created overall ratings, but when we reached the financial aid portion of acceptance, our ratings meant almost nothing. In order to accept our top three applicants a financial aid budget of $90,486 deemed necessary (Decision Day). Our budget was $80, 000 including a $10,000 merit scholarship for one applicant (Correspondence). We were more than $10,000 over budget and thus turned to our next candidate who unfortunately needed $47,740 in financial aid. Four out of the five of our top candidates were racially diverse; however, they required the most financial aid and therefore were declined admittance (Decision Day). When all is said and done, an equal opportunity at education is impossible due to the unavailability of funds to compensate need. We ended up looking for a stereotypical clique of classic students that would inhabit The College, instead of students with potential, because we couldn’t afford them.

It’s ironic that race, and the need for financial aid are so closely related, considering the fact that America, and its’ education especially, is supposedly a place where equal opportunity thrives. Anyone is supposed to be accepted into the American society since we’re a melting pot, and every child has the right to a good education since education is the key to success. Oddly enough, if your race lands you in the minority category, a true struggle ensues regarding your educational opportunities. In the case of this simulation, race was considered when looking for diversity, but had to be overlooked when looking at finances. When it comes down to it, if the financial aid budget is too small to admit the best possible class, then funds elsewhere need to be reallocated in order to compensate for those students who are minorities and stuck needing assistance due to the color of their skin since our society is set up to put them in a certain social class as a result. The same schools that turn away students based on their need also pull strings for athletes who aren’t necessarily academically qualified to attend said school. Schools with athletic teams tend to recruit students based on athletic ability, what they see on the field, not their test scores or report cards. Admissions offices are challenged to accept star athletes because the athletic record is just as important as the academic record. Every school wants to be in the limelight one way or another (Winters). Maybe some different strings need to be pulled.

All in all, race is a necessity when trying to build a diverse and best possible class for any college, The College especially. This is because the diversity of race breeds diversity in culture and a set of students, each having a completely different outlook on life. College is about more than overpriced textbooks and a high GPA; it’s about learning to function in the world, not just your hometown; it’s about a loss of ignorance and a gain of experience. “Whether we’re dealing with high school kids, middle school kids, graduates or undergraduates, by helping them to understand how to own and be accountable for their passion we do a lot of good things. One of those things is to increase diversity,” – Richard Cherwitz (Parr).Having a class with the most diverse students takes race in as a huge factor because race tends to tie with origin and that allows a school to branch out across the country and the world. If colleges didn’t branch out, the students that attend their schools would be virtually the same person with a different hair color. All students would be from the same areas, social standards, backgrounds, and lifestyles. The only benefit for all upper class black students to study together, while elsewhere, all lower class white students study together is for each group to learn about how they all have the same background with subtle differences. That defeats the purpose of education, of branching out, of broadening horizons. College is about more than a degree. It’s about learning how to show some humanity because you understand humanity. If the opportunity to experience other cultures is taken away, what’s the point in growing up if nothing has changed since high school? Race consideration isn’t just a black and white thing; it’s a people thing.






Works Cited

Correspondence from Dean of Admissions (from simulation), Color & Money seminar at Trinity College, Fall 2013,http://commons.trincoll.edu/colorandmoney.

Decision Day (from simulation), Color & Money seminar at Trinity College, Fall 2013, http://commons.trincoll.edu/colorandmoney.

Haas, Mark. “Research Shows Diverse Environment Has Educationalbenefits.” Research Shows Diverse Environment Has Educationalbenefits. The University Record, 22 Mar. 1999. Web. 04 Oct. 2013.

Parr, Chris, chris.parr@tsleducation.com. “Positive Efforts To Increase Diversity Without Prejudice.” Times Higher Education 2117 (2013): 26-27. Education Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 1 Oct. 2013.

Reed, Katherine. “Two Arguments For Race-Conscious Admissions Policies.” American Journal Of Education 119.3 (2013): 341-345. Education Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 1 Oct. 2013.

Winters, Carla A., and Gerald S. Gurney. “Academic Preparation Of Specially-Admitted Student-Athletes: A Question Of Basic Skills.” College And University 88.2 (2012): 2-9. ERIC. Web. 4 Oct. 2013.