• You are a member of the admissions committee at a prestigious college. Examine the credentials for each of the candidates below and rank the candidates from 1 to 8, with one being the candidate you are most likely to admit.

  • Organize into groups of three or five students; these are the other members of your admissions committee. Work with them to determine which THREE candidates you will admit. Circle your choices. 

  • Share your selections with the other groups in your class.

Candidate A

White Female, 4.0 G.P.A., 1560 S.A.T. scores

  • Captain of the swim team

  • Competes in horseback riding at local club

Candidate B

African American Female, 3.7 G.P.A., 1380 S.A.T. scores

  • Captain of her school's cheerleading squad

  • All-state in Forensics (public speaking group)

  • Takes dance lessons and performs in recitals

  • Tutors elementary school children for one hour each Saturday

Candidate C

African Male, 3.4 G.P.A., 1150 S.A.T. scores

  • Runs track; his relay team placed second in the state last year

  • Member of Students for Global Responsibility, an organization that works for a better environment by recycling, cleaning up streams, and performing other service projects

  • Moved to United States three years ago from a war-torn country where his education was interrupted; his father and brothers were killed in that war

  • Volunteers in a neighborhood literacy program after school and during the summer

Candidate D

Latina Female, 3.5 G.P.A., 1200 S.A.T. scores

  • President of her school's Hispanic Club

  • Sings in her school and church choir

  • Has lived in the United States for 5 years

  • English is her second language; her family speaks Spanish at home

  • Works 20 hours per week at her parents store and cares for her younger siblings

Candidate E

Asian Male, 3.8 G.P.A., 1350 S.A.T. scores

  • Editor of his school's newspaper

  • Member of the football team

  • Treasurer of the Vietnamese club

  • Has been in the United states for 8 years; English is his second language

  • Coaches a neighborhood Little League baseball team

Candidate F

White Male, 3.8 G.P.A., 1400 S.A.T. scores

  • Class president of his senior class

  • Member of Students Against Drunk Driving

  • Member of his school band

  • Captain of his school's debate team

  • Helps care for his younger brother, who is severely mentally and emotionally disabled

Candidate G

White Male, 3.5 G.P.A., 1200 S.A.T. scores

  • All-State Wrestler

  • Captain of his school's soccer team

  • His father and grandfather both graduated from the university

  • His family donates $10,000 a year to the university

Candidate H

White Female, 3.7 G.P.A., 1380 S.A.T. scores

  • President of her school's Student Government Association

  • Plays three varsity sports; captain of one

  • Volunteer tutor for disabled students at lunch and after school

  • Active in her church's youth group

  • Prom Queen

  • Her mother died of cancer when she was 14

Questions to Consider

  1. Which candidates did you choose? Did the other groups choose the same candidates as you or different ones?

  2. What factors did you consider in making your selections? How did you determine which factors should weigh more heavily?

  3. Was the selection process a difficult or easy one? Explain.

  4. Which factors should admissions officers at colleges and universities consider in making their decisions? Should race play a role in their decisions? Why or why not?

  5. Now assume that you have been told that approximately one-third of the available spaces should go to "under-represented minorities" (African Americans and Hispanics). Put a star next to the candidates that you would choose.

  6. What does it mean to "set aside" a set number of places for members of certain minority groups? What does it mean to give "preferential treatment" to members of certain minority groups? Do you think that colleges or universities should engage in either of these practices? Explain your answers.

  7. Do you have any suggestions that might help colleges and universities form a diverse student body while ensuring that the process is fair to everyone?