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Alternative to Affirmative Action?
let's not forget about the admissions essays

The standard college application, from my experience anyway, involves writing one or more essays. This might not be the case at some of the bigger state schools, but for now consider those schools that do use essays in admissions decisions.

One of the possible questions that an applicant can write his or her essay on is almost always about any significant obstacles he or she has overcome in life or in education--those special circumstances that might explain some slightly lower than normal academic performance, or something of that sort.

Now, if a minority candidate truly feels that he or she has been significantly disadvantaged because of racism or lingering effects of segregation or slavery, wouldn't this be the perfect place to make that case? Rather than generalized Affirmative Action approaches that often help minorities who have suffered no disadvantage (those whose families came to America after slavery/segregation had ended, those from upper-class families, etc.), this approach would only allow those individuals who have legitimately been disadvantaged. Not only that, but such a method would consider minorities who felt that they had to overcome challenges in their education in same same context as anyone else, regardless of race or gender, who had also faced obstacles in life.

Instead of making assumptions that every minority must have been disadvantaged due to his or her race regardless of the facts, an applicant would have to give reasons why that was the case, and why he or she was qualified even if that qualification was not fully reflected in an academic record because of outside factors.

Any thoughts on this? Since essays are already standard for admission to many/most colleges, this method wouldn't create any additional work load, and it would (or at least would have a better chance at) eliminating broad racial preferences for a more fair consideration on an individual basis.
What do YOU think?
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