Give the Poor Students a Chance, Not a Preference

Ashley Thorne

Ashley Thorne's article was originally published in The Federalist​. We post an extract below; please read the entire article here.

Perhaps many poor students do have to work harder than their peers and thus have a quality of character that colleges should desire. As for access, Americans should contribute to and volunteer in programs that help low-income students on their way to college, specifically ones that provide free after-school tutoring, assistance with scholarship and FAFSA forms, and SAT and ACT prep courses. We should also support programs that provide community and accountability for students once they have enrolled in college.

Colleges can encourage poorer students to apply by offering generous financial aid (grants, not loans) to students accepted through need-blind admissions. But they ought not to institute income-based preferences. ....

Valuing poverty as a good in itself, and using it as a “plus” for applicants to college, would only introduce the insecurities (“Do I belong here or was I a ‘diversity’ recruit?”) and bitterness (“You probably don’t think I deserve to be here”) that racial preferences have made so familiar. Socioeconomic status is less visible to the eye than race and ethnicity, but we shouldn’t ignore the power of students knowing that they and their peers each earned a place at their competitive institutions fairly, based on appropriate criteria.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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