It's common for college applications to have optional questions in which would-be students may indicate their race or ethnicity. In what experts believe to be a first, Elmhurst College has released a new undergraduate application that includes an optional question about sexual orientation and gender identity status.
Admitted students who indicate when applying that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered will be eligible for a diversity scholarship worth one-third of tuition.
This year, Harvard accepted only about 9 percent of those who applied, and Columbia University took an even lower percentage. What are these incoming students like? Are they all genius athletes arranged in an ethnically diverse spectrum?
At U of All People, where we understand the publicity value of such standards -- and like a good challenge -- we’ve set our goal even higher: Next year, we intend to accept only 5 percent of those who apply to our fabled university. However, in order to attract that many applicants, we’ll need to lower our admissions criteria somewhat. Here’s what we’re looking for:
a minimum SAT score of 400, calculated with a special bonus system that rewards extra effort
a GPA of at least 1.5, with special consideration given to vocational skills
a varsity letter—or some experience—in sports, with the term sports broadly defined to include Texas Hold ’Em, video games, and yodeling
at least one extracurricular activity: may encompass shopping and watching most television serials
community service, with special credit for parole activities
proficiency in at least one language, such as English
a vaguely ethnic look, if not true ethnicity (may be waived upon lawsuit)
a geographical location for place of residence, including foreign countries with whom the U.S. is not currently at war
a median family income of some median or other
a high school diploma or a reasonable facsimile thereof
an application at least two-thirds completed, or to the best of the applicant’s ability
Of course, if we don’t manage to attract such qualified applicants, we have our fallback position: our famous 100% acceptance rate -- “Educational democracy in action!” -- at U of All People, where enrollment is a way of life and our top priority.
Student success is important, but access to students is even more so.
David Galef is a professor of English and administrator of the M.F.A. program in creative writing at the University of Mississippi. His latest books are the novel How to Cope with Suburban Stress and the co-edited fiction anthology 20 over 40.