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Not Accepted: A Case Study

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Not Accepted: The History of Bias in College Applications
The stress is inevitable. Freshmen become sophomores and sophomores become upperclassmen. Thoughts of SAT and ACT scores, GPA, essays, and letters of recommendation make their way to the forefront of student brains. High school students spend years creating a reputation of academic success for themselves. However, universities also have a reputation of bias that has been years in the making. Factors such as one’s religion and hometown can make or break a college application. One of the largest cases of anti-Semitism in college revolved around the Ivy League in the 20th century. Around 1926, the “Scholastic Aptitude Test” (SATs) became private colleges’ preferred exam. This test
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Molly Hensley-Clancy, an education reporter, experienced this firsthand. Molly graduated from Yale in 2013 and in 2015 she saw her admissions files. Since the exact thought process of admissions officers is so mysterious, Molly Hensley-Clancy had to sneak down to the basement of the admissions office after being told she “wasn’t supposed to see” her manila folder. They were available to her through the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This federal law allowed her to look at any information her college kept on her, including anything admissions officers jotted down in her file. By now, her files are long gone. Schools like Stanford and Yale started catching on to why students were using this law, so they quickly and quietly destroyed admissions files. Molly was not surprised by most of what she saw in her folder. She claims that it “was pretty subjective… they try to turn your entire application into a series of numbers.” One officer ranked her recommendation letters as an 8 and one gave her a 5. The same officer gave her a 6 on her interview while the other gave her a 9. It was extremely clear to her that one person simply “liked her better than the other.” The different taste in character between these two officers is not at all surprising, but what is surprising is the statement that both of the people wrote as a strong reason for her acceptance. Molly Hensley-Clancy went to an inner city public school in Minneapolis where the majority of the students were African-American, immigrants, and low income. The admissions officers wrote, “I’m in her corner. It would be good to take one from the Minneapolis public schools.” and “It would be good for us to admit her from the Minneapolis public schools.” In an effort to try to appear as a more diverse class from a wide range of areas, Yale chose Molly to represent the 35,000-student school district of

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