Many Americans are outraged by the university admission scandal unveiled by the FBI on March 12. The scandal has to do with celebrities and wealthy investors who have reportedly bought their children's street on college sports teams and have been cheated to improve their children's SAT and ACT scores. Of course, the regular admission system of the university also favors the children of rich families when it comes to elite colleges.
As an expert on university accreditation, I would like to propose a simple solution that would make the process fairer: an admission lottery.
The lottery that I advocate includes applicants who reach a certain academic threshold and help universities to admit students in a more equitable way. An admission lottery would achieve two important goals.
1. Recognize the benefit for the rich
The best thing elite colleges can do is recognize that selection is inevitably beneficial for people with resources. Indeed, the more selective the lectures are, the more privileged the students admitted.
An admission lottery would send a clear signal that admission is significantly based on chance, not just on merit. Even the extensive analyzes of top economists both for and against Harvard in an affirmative action lawsuit against the school could not predict the admission effects of one in four applicants.
In other words, even when you build a statistical model that covers everything from a candidate's grades and SAT scores to their parents' occupations, the state they live in and many other factors, it is difficult to understand admission decisions. This suggests that more chance is involved than most people think.
The current recording process suggests to students going to Harvard, Yale, the University of Southern California or other desirable schools that they deserve their place solely on their own merits – that is, despite the wealth of their parents, regardless of whether their parents attended school and all the benefits arising from the high schools they attended to participate.
But that is simply not the case. It is certain that those who go to elite schools come from richer, better educated families than teenagers in the US in general. They also tend to be white or Asian more often. So unless society believes that merit is not evenly distributed among the population, claiming that admission is meritocratic, it seems as if elite students are more valuable than those at a disadvantage, while the reality is that they simply had more benefits.
2. Save time and money
An admission lottery would save universities incredible resources. At Harvard, for example, a 40-person committee of full-time, paid admission officials votes together on each of the tens of thousands of applicants at Harvard College.
If qualified students were to be entered into a lottery, the university could simply choose names from an electronic hat, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in hours of work. There may be comparable savings for other universities.
A lottery would also save parents and teens countless hours of time and money and eliminate a lot of stress while trying to navigate in an increasingly competitive admission system. College admissions have led many high school students to strive for ever higher standards of excellence in academics, as well as extracurriculars. This leads to unhealthy levels of stress and anxiety for an increasing number of teenagers.
I do not suggest that the application process is completely canceled. Instead, universities must carefully consider what qualities they are looking for among students. Reasonable quality would be a basic level of academic performance, so that a student – with the support available on campus – will be able to meet the academic expectations of the university.
To ensure that all young people get a chance, these expectations and support should accommodate top students from high schools across the country, including the most needy communities with the least resources. Selective colleges can commit themselves to meeting the educational needs of top students from all secondary schools, regardless of the SAT scores of those students or other measures that compare them with peers from other, more resource-rich schools.
The first steps
Some colleges may be reluctant to adopt an admission lottery first. Those colleges should consider how colleges such as Bates and Bowdoin were the first to become test-optional when it comes to SAT long before hundreds of other colleges. However, these schools have achieved greater diversity and have kept their graduation rates about the same.
On the other hand, if many colleges were to switch to an admission lottery, they could jointly develop a "match" system, similar to the one that places medical school students in their residency programs & # 39; s. Students would first be sorted in their first choice colleges, and then the pool of students reaching the selection bar would be entered into a lottery to select students. After the first choices were made, lotteries for the second choice would take place, and so on. This system would also alleviate the costs for families associated with students registering for an increasing number of colleges, thereby increasing applicants' assessment costs.
The battle for university accreditation has led to rising costs, fear among American teenagers and unfair perceptions of merit as the exclusive domain of elites. And, as the false scandal shows, it has led to corruption. These situations can be avoided if colleges take powerful steps towards an admission lottery.
This article has been republished in The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
This article was originally published on January 10, 2019 and was updated on March 14, 2019.