The real solution to Affirmative Action in school admissions

Solutions are easy to come by.  Good solutions on the other hand, well that’s a different story.  Recently, the media is on a tear due to increased calls to end racism, democracy and any other program that resembles free markets.

In light of the debacle involving wealthy people backdooring their kids into prestigious universities, the topic of affirmative action is back on the table.   And while WHO we believe are impacted by affirmative action, the reality is that it’s not WHO we think it is.  Typically, the majority of Americans believe that affirmative action disproportionately disadvantages white people. The truth is these programs negatively impact Asians at a higher number.  Regardless of all of this, the real solution is NOT more affirmative action programs; it’s less of them.  Let’s take a look.

In my previous life, I was an adjunct professor and was married to a university professor for the better part of 18 years.  And while I don’t know everything about university life, I know one thing.  We are doing college admissions wrong.

When the housing market crashed and the U.S. found itself in the middle of a depression, there was a line knocking on the door of universities and colleges everywhere.  The weeding out process began and potential students were getting denial letters instead of having their dreams fulfilled.  The universities call this an “Impacted Program”.  But there were two things I didn’t understand.  Why couldn’t the professors teach more classes and secondly why couldn’t universities hire more teachers to teach more courses?

Makes sense to me.  In my business, when I have more clients requesting training, I simply add hours to my days or bring on more qualified instructors.  Seems simple in theory?  I believe this is the concept that Starbucks, McDonalds, Nordstroms, UPS, FedEx, hotels and a myriad of other companies utilize.

So why don’t these universities implement one of these two simple solutions?  First, it’s the mindset.  Much like other government agencies (yes, some universities are private), there is no profit motive.  University staff aren’t driven to excel because there is no personal gain in it for them: no bonus, no salary increase, nothing beyond the personal satisfaction that they are helping more people.

Secondly, they are not geared toward the greater social good.  Instead, playing along the lines of intersectional politics and high ideals, the system gets gratification from The Bubble.  In short, elitism.  In this democracy known as America, we are supposed to take interest for the greater social good.  That means doing good for the greatest number of people possible.  There is an inherent need for humans to distinguish themselves from others. This is known as the lighthouse theory. It goes something like this:  I’m good and you are bad.  I went to college and you didn’t.  And this is not too helpful if we are going to advance society overall.

Thirdly, they need to make themselves look good. We can’t just take anyone because then we won’t get credit for producing Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, etc.  In fact, they will produce those greats, they will just have more non-greats.  Let’s face it prodigies are prodigies.  For the 1.2 million kids graduating college this year, there are only 500 fortune companies and that means only 500 CEO’s.  Odds of being prestigious is pretty low.  Most everyone leaves college and enters into a mainstream 50k job.   Which is the topic of debate for another post.

Fourthly, you get what you focus your attention on.  Focus on race as a problem, and well, race becomes a problem.  Focus on educating everyone taking in to account their learning needs, and you get an advanced educational system that does what it is supposed to do – teach people.  People love to complain and play the role of the victim.  By running around saying groups are underserved, and we must do something about it, they get to put their affirmative action programs on their do-gooder sleeve with pride.

There are many solutions to the problems America faces.  Some solve problems and others create more.




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