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Affirmative Action in College Admissions

Thu, Feb 02, 2012 @ 11:01 AM

Let’s Hear it For the Boys

Affirmative Action, College AdmissionsThe US Department of Education reported that for Fall 2010 admission, women, on average, accounted for 56% of applicants to four-year colleges. That same year, the New York Times stated that for every 100 American women enrolled in college, there were only 77 men. Meanwhile, the National Center for Education Statistics projects that by 2020, men will represent only 41.4% of students enrolled in college. With colleges becoming increasingly concerned about gender balance on campus, has this really led to preferential treatment for men in college admissions?

According to Dr. Kat, many colleges are indeed entertaining the idea of affirmative action for boys to ensure gender parity on college campuses. With a more limited pool of male applicants to draw from, some schools are admitting male applicants over women who have higher test scores, higher GPAs, or more extracurricular achievements.

However, many experts claim that though the gender imbalance affects students' social lives, it doesn't impact their academic experience—the primary reason they're at college. In fact, the research of one UCLA professor showed that on campuses with a majority of female students, the grades of both men and women were higher.

Others insist that a balanced campus is a diverse campus, and intellectual discussions should include equal input from both male and female points of view. Furthermore, a balanced campus is generally seen as more appealing and can increase a school's selectivity.

So what does this mean for your college admissions process?

For Girls:

  • The most selective schools are competing for the best science kids – especially girls in science and engineering.  In Higher Ed Live, Eric Felix, an admissions counselor at the University of San Diego says “[Many males] that are attending college straight from high school are choosing large “flagship” public institutions. These colleges haven’t faced the same issues as smaller private/public 4-year institutions. And most engineering or technical schools have the opposite problem.”

  • Public institutions remain mostly unaffected. In 1992, Title IX was signed into law, stipulating that public institutions cannot discriminate by gender, and that includes everything from sports to admissions.

  • Look beyond small liberal arts colleges. A college counselor can suggest schools where the ratio is in your favor. For example, in 2007 the acceptance rate at MIT was nearly 26 percent for women and 10 percent for men. Though females who apply to MIT tend to be extremely strong candidates, if you're interested in science, math or engineering you might have a better shot than you think at getting into a highly selective school.

  • Many schools, such as Harvard University, have a “gender-blind” admissions policy.

For Boys:

  • Look at schools that were historically female or liberal arts colleges, and see if they have majors/programs that interest you. Many of these colleges are eager to enroll more male students.

  • Learn from the ladies. There are more qualified females in application pools because girls tend to commit to activities, demonstrate leadership, and begin their college search and applications earlier.

Need a strategic action plan for high school and the college admissions process? We can help!

Sarah Shanahan

Written by Sarah Shanahan

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