Affirmative Action: Preferential Treatment

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Preferential Treatment

During the college process, students are advised in multiple ways on how to properly present themselves to draw the appeal of colleges. Whether it is by highlighting their awards, accomplishments or talents, students are constantly working on improving their resume. They were told that with good grades, extracurricular activities, and heart-warming essays that they would find success in being admitted into a prestigious university. However, there are various other factors that determine whether one is accepted or denied. An important and often scrutinized factor is the use of affirmative action in admissions. While affirmative action should not hold the weight it does in admissions currently, it seems that people are unaware of the other preferential treatments given to certain students. Affirmative action in favor of underrepresented minorities has been a controversial topic debated and scrutinized by scholars, the media, and the public for many years. Two other preferential admissions programs have been less controversial but in widespread use; one involving giving an admissions boost to applicants with athletic skills and the other one to children of alumni, commonly known as “legacies”. As these various categories suggest, entry into selective institutions of higher education has never been decided purely on academic criteria—before or after minority affirmative action came into effect. As the term “affirmative action” encompasses the ideal that institutions promote diversity and growth by including historically excluded groups in their admissions, legacy admissions and athletic admissions are considered “affirmative”. (Massey and Mooney 99-117) They do originate from very different motivations, but they bring non-academic criteria that impact the admissions process. Therefore, by attaching the label “affirmative action” to legacy and athletic admissions, it is deliberately underscoring the fact that minorities are not the only social group to benefit from such a policy. Supporters of affirmative action claim that minority students, generally speaking, start out at a disadvantage in their college or job application process. They usually come from lower income families and, in turn, have fewer opportunities than those who go to private school. Some inner city youths had grown up in environments filled with crime, violence, and discouragement. Genuine, hard-working minority students are every bit as capable as white students, but because of these disadvantages, they may not have the same paper qualifications. Affirmative action evens the playing field a bit. (Massey and Mooney 99-117) Nonetheless, it was designed to end discrimination and unfair treatment of employees/students based on color, but it in effect does the opposite. Whites who work harder and/or are more qualified can be passed over strictly because they are white. Contrary to many stereotypes, many minorities fall into the middle or upper class, and many whites live in poverty. (Fletcher) Unfortunately, the way things are set up now, a poverty-stricken white student who uses discipline and hard work to become the best he can be can be passed over by a rich minority student who doesn't put in much effort at all. Supporters also claim that some stereotypes may never be broken without affirmative action. For decades blacks were considered less capable than whites. It took affirmative action to give blacks the opportunity to show they are every bit as capable. However, if you were to ask Colin Powell, Barack Obama, or Oprah Winfrey how they got to where they today, I doubt they would respond with affirmative action. (Fletcher) It sets the idea that a minority cannot achieve full potential without the help of affirmative action and undermines their own abilities. Another claim supporters of affirmative use is that it draws people to places they would never have gone elsewise, bringing under-privileged students to Ivy League institution....
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