Direct Admissions: Reimagining College Applications to Promote Equity

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The Campaign for College Opportunity is proud to release Direct Admissions: Reimagining College Applications to Promote Equity as part of our Affirming Equity, Ensuring Inclusion, and Empowering Action initiative. This publication examines how direct admissions can work to simplify the college application process, saving students time and money, and eliminating barriers that disproportionately impact students from minoritized backgrounds due to unevenly distributed social and cultural capital.

Applying to college is anything but simple. The typical application process is a gauntlet that goes several steps beyond filling out an application form. The administrative burden, uncertainty, and complexity of this process keep many talented and eligible students from applying. Beyond the cumbersome nature of the admissions process is the fact that not all students face these obstacles on equal ground. Navigating this path requires substantial levels of financial, social, and cultural capital that are themselves inequitably distributed across racial and ethnic lines.

Rethinking recruitment practices, as well as practices like demonstrated interest, eliminating preferences for children of alumni, rethinking early-decision policies, eliminating requirements for applicants to submit standardized test scores, and considering applications holistically and within the context of the applicant’s background, are all ways that colleges and universities can eliminate admissions practices that structurally exacerbate racial inequity. Direct admissions complements these initiatives by strengthening the pathway between high school and college.