April 24, 2014

Financial Diversity, Inclusion, and the Myth of the “Need Blind” College

By Anthony-James Green

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If you’re applying to college, and you need financial aid, then you’re probably aware of the concept of “need-blind admissions.”  Colleges don’t look at students’ financial status before deciding whether to admit or reject them, meaning, ostensibly, that financially under-privileged students don’t stand any disadvantages when it comes to college admissions.  Schools can’t reject a student simply because he or she needs financial help.  One would assume that this would level the playing field for students without the financial resources of their more economically advantaged peers.  Unfortunately, this assumption is wrong.

Colleges might not look at your financial needs, but they still care very much about whether or not you’ll be able to pay.  So instead of looking at student finances, they’ve created a system in which the factors for admission are blatant indicators of financial advantage or disadvantage.

When making admissions decisions, colleges look at student SAT and ACT scores, school competitiveness, GPA, essays, and extracurricular activities.  Every single one of these factors is completely linked to the financial success of a student’s parents.

Think of the “dream applicant” in this scenario.  He goes to a competitive prep school with a fantastic GPA, has high SAT scores, and is the captain of the crew team.  What are the chances that this student isn’t extremely financially advantaged?  Slim to none. [Read More...]

Advice for Parents to Give their Kids Entering into College about Diversity

By Dr. Charles Taylor, Dr. Denise Ajeto, Professor Emeritus Angela Provitera McGlynn, Derek Johnson, and Dr. Aldo Billingslea

It seems like every week we read about another racial incident on some college campus and the traditional college response to that incident. While colleges must continue to provide anti-racist and diversity training, perhaps it time for them to become more proactive and reach students before they arrive on campus.

One group that could play a critical role in challenging students’ attitudes about diversity and inclusion is parents. Students still listen to their parents at least up to their junior year in college. Parents can be a tremendous resource in helping to improve the campus climate by having the diversity conversation with their kids before sending them off to school.

The question then becomes-what advice should parents give to their kids. I asked colleagues from around the country to help me draft a letter about diversity that parents can give to their kids before sending them off to college. What do you think?

Dear Son/Daughter,

Acquire Cultural Competency Skills

First and foremost we want you to know that diversity benefits everyone. It is something to be celebrated, embraced and not feared. We’re sending you off to college with the expectation that you will engage intellectually and socially with all types of people. We don’t want you to live your life in fear of others. We want you to become culturally competent and that’s different from just being tolerant of others. Cultural competency is the ability to engage people in ways that respect and honor their culture. In fact, it means learning to celebrate our differences as well as finding the common humanity we all share. A well educated person has an understanding and appreciation of people from different cultural/ethnic backgrounds and understands the normal variations in human sexuality.

Learning to become culturally competent is a process that requires a personal commitment to on-going learning and growth, a capacity for self-reflection, the ability to be open-minded and accountable for your actions. A very important step is to develop knowledge and awareness of your own cultural lens, and the assumptions, values and biases that shape this lens – including recognition of the limitations of your own knowledge and perspective. [Read More...]

SPECIAL BLACK HISTORY MONTH BLOG: WHAT THE OTHER WES MOORE MEANT TO ME

This speech was delivered at Edgewood College as part of their ‘Common Read’ program. I was one of four panel members asked to respond to the book: The Other Wes Moore. The book is about two African American males, with the same name and similar backgrounds that grew up in the inner city of Baltimore, Maryland. One became a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison.

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Black College students succeeding despite the odds

Although The Other Wes Moore would not have been my first choice for a Common Read, it did cause me to critically examine the social reality in which many urban blacks are forced to exist and reflect on the serious problems facing American society like poverty, race, crime, and limited opportunity. For me it was never about which Wes Moore succeeded but rather the need to explain the conditions that causes too many Wes Moores to fail.

The author Wes Moore succeeded not because racism has died, but because of a support system that got him through. We must ask ourselves what is it about our system that continuously fails the poor and black males in particular. Is poverty an individual problem or a structural one? Those who believe it’s an individual problem typically blame the other Wes Moore for his fate in life. They’ll say if he wasn’t raised in a single family household; or if he just had more determination or if he would have just done this or that. To be sure all of this carries a grain of truth, but it places the blame for his condition primarily on his shoulders as if external factors bare no blame.

The condition in which both Wes Moore’s found themselves just didn’t happen overnight. I often tell my students that if you want to get at the root causes of contemporary problems (especially involving race), you have to study their historical origins. So I’d like to use my 10-minutes to take a look back and put The Other Wes Moore into a broader historical perspective and perhaps point out some similarities between then and now.

There were at least 3 significant historical periods that had a profound impact on black Americans quest for equality in this country: 1) The Indentured Servitude Period; 2) Reconstruction and 3) the modern Civil Rights Era. [Read More...]