“Everyone has a price.”
It is no national secret that who your parents are can open doors for you in certain areas of life. This is true in the college admissions process, where children of alumni or of wealthy donors can see higher chances of acceptance. Former NYC schools chancellor Harold O. Levy argued against this practice recently in The Washington Post.
This post will not be a discussion of the morality of this, nor will it be about what universities should and should not care about. RizeU is about empowering motivated students to better themselves and reach their long term goals. We focus on providing actionable insights that you can apply immediately.
The aforementioned situation is the present reality. Instead of crying and complaining (which changes nothing), it’s better to think about what you can do in response.
Put yourself in the shoes of the universities
Colleges are businesses. Forget their non-profit status. That’s just for tax exemption purposes, as they’re playing the cards they can to their benefit (as we all should).
Universities need to make money to fund all the things they do (research, instruction, admissions, athletics, etc.). Think about the scholarships that low-income students get and other diversity initiatives available on campuses now. The school pays for them.
Where does the university get that money? From the students who pay full price tuition and from donors, among other sources.
Colleges are not altruistic
Schools aren’t required to publish formal mission statements, but read the “About Us” sections of competitive universities (especially the elite ones), and you’ll see that reducing society’s economic inequality is not their main priority.
You can also look at their actions. Institutions care about advancing their brand (just look at Harvard boasting about the number of Nobel Laureates and heads of state they have), through prestige, selectivity, and even boasting about their “diversity.”
Even public schools such as UC Berkeley (which is supposed to be serving California residents) have succumbed to financial realities and a decade ago began accepting more international students, who pay out-of-state tuition and don’t get financial aid.
You think UC San Diego, another public California university, has a student body that is 10% international students from China just because the administration thought that they would add to the “intellectual diversity” of the campus? Hell no. For the current 2016-17 school year, California residents pay UCSD $13,672 in tuition, while those Chinese students are paying three times that ($40,354).
Recognize the reality, then move on
As unfortunate as that may be for some, that’s the present reality. Colleges will never admit it explicitly, but they need either 1) rich students, and/or 2) students with extraordinary talents. Focus on what you can take action on instead. So if you can’t qualify for #1, then go for #2.
Focus your time on improving yourself & seeing where you can add value to colleges (i.e. being a rich student or being a student of extraordinary talents) to get what you want. We’ve talked all about it in previous posts regarding how to become someone and develop your strengths.
Whether or not it is fair is irrelevant. Whether or not you agree with universities’ priorities, you have to understand what those priorities are. That understanding will show you how they operate (and will operate), and it will also direct you on how you should best position yourself to get the outcomes you want.