On January 17th, the New York Times reported that students can legally access their Stanford admissions records if they are enrolled at the school. That means they can learn exactly why they were accepted. They can even see Stanford’s rankings on various aspects of their application, such as grades, SAT scores, and personal qualities. Some students have even published these records for the world to see.
I believe that this discovery will change college admissions forever. If you’re a sophomore or a junior, this could really impact the next few years of your life! But I’m not sure if the changes will be good or bad. There are several important questions we need to ask ourselves…
- Will transparency make colleges less likely to admit based on certain factors that are viewed as unfair?
Furthermore, we all have different conceptions of what is fair and unfair. For example, some think that it’s unfair for parents to give a lot of money to the college in order to ensure that their child is accepted. Others believe that long legacies of families being accepted to a certain school in unfair. And many disagree with affirmative action and believe that race and gender shouldn’t matter at all in a college’s decision.
But maybe colleges won’t change these sorts of considerations at all, as all of these factors have logical explanations for use.
- Will the transparency change who decides to apply to certain schools?
Perhaps some students will choose to apply to schools they thought they would never get into because they now know more about the qualities a college looks for and believe they have all of those qualities. At the same time, reading these files may scare many applicants off. They might believe the process to be too terrifyingly thorough.
- Is this transparency bad for admissions committees? Do they need privacy to make honest decisions? Or does privacy lead to bad decision-making that they prefer to be kept secret?
Privacy in admissions decisions allows colleges to avoid controversy. They can make honest choices without worrying about offending anyone, since, like I said, everyone has different opinions about what is fair. But maybe the publication of these admissions files will help to keep these colleges accountable. If they know that anyone may be able to view the files, they may be more careful about their choices.