EDITORIAL: New application improves accessibility
Low-income students will have easier time applying to Rutgers
For the past two years, Rutgers has offered prospective students the ability to apply through the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success — a service that seeks to streamline the college application process, making it easier for high school students, especially those from low-income school districts, to apply. The Coalition currently has 130 member schools, including all of the Ivy Leagues. The first year Rutgers was involved, they saw 800 applications through the Coalition. This year, they saw 3,500. College applications, no matter the form, are almost always confusing, and without guidance, it can be impossible for high school students to navigate and figure them out.
More often than not, students from low-income backgrounds in New Jersey go to schools with low funding that lack sufficient guidance. Courtney McAnuff, Rutgers’ director of enrollment management, said that a study from Stanford found that low-income students were getting into elite schools at lower rates because they did not know how to apply or that they were eligible for scholarships and financial aid. In New Jersey specifically, the Coalition aims to allow all students, especially those in urban and rural areas, have access to the elite levels of education. Through the Coalition’s platform, students are able to enter their grades into the application at the start of their first year of high school, as well as upload work that they are proud of and would like admission officers to see. This can allow students to know whether they are on track to be admitted to the college of their choice without necessarily having the most hands-on guidance — significantly benefitting students from under-funded schools, considering that early engagement can greatly support under-resourced students during the college preparation process.
This new application process available to high school students is clearly working to help low-income students apply — and this is a great thing. But with that said, it only addresses a small part of the whole issue. According to the research of Paul Tractenberg, a distinguished lawyer and professor at the Rutgers Law School, New Jersey has of severely segregated schools in the U.S. These schools are called “apartheid schools” and are comprised of less than 1 percent white students. And that being said, it is not uncommon for these schools to have significantly less access to resources and funding than their counterparts. Additionally, in New Jersey, 51 percent of Black children and 56 percent of Hispanic children come from low-income families. Tractenberg said that since the 1940’s, the number of school districts in New Jersey has risen by 20 percent and that these consolidated school districts are mostly homogeneous and lacking in diversity. The multiplication and fragmentation of small municipalities in the suburbs has been used as a means of controlling access to housing, property and schools, and while it is hard to prove that a racially discriminatory motive lies behind these facts, it is not hard to see that there is clearly an issue of access and diversity on our hands.
All in all, Rutgers joining the Coalition is an undeniably good step forward. The mere fact that thousands of students who would previously at all are now more easily able to do so is a wonderful thing. Studies show that education has the ability to keep people off of public assistance programs like food stamps and welfare, and also out of prison, which in the long run allows the general taxpayer to save money. Additionally, the more applications to Rutgers, the better. More applications to our school means that the number of driven and talented students in the application pool will increase, thereby making Rutgers even more of an impressive school. And we cannot forget that America converges here in New Brunswick. Diversity is our strong suit, and anything that benefits our diverse student body will allow the University to continue to foster a community of acceptance and broaden our worldly perspectives.
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