To the Editor:
The News had its head in the clouds if it was expecting a cure-all out of Yale’s financial aid reforms (“For Aid, a triumph; for Yale, no panacea,” 1/15).
The editorial bemoaned the “unfair playing field,” alluding to admissions advantages for upper-income students. It is inequitable but true that upper-income applicants can generally present more qualifications than their lower-income counterparts, and simply lowering tuition will not necessarily raise the number of qualified “economically diverse” students accepted to Yale.
Yale’s admissions officers can intentionally target disadvantaged schools and regions all they like, but the need-blind admissions process and the inherent nature of choosing the best “on paper” candidates immediately give the upper hand to upper-income students that generally have more credentials to put on paper.
The argument goes that lower-income, opportunity-lacking applicants should be accepted based on their apparent “educational aptitude” rather than demonstrated experience, yet admissions officers cannot be expected to divine students’ potential out of achievement-based applications.
In any case, pure aptitude is impossible to measure, as admitted by the Educational Testing Service when it quietly changed the meaning of SAT from Scholastic Aptitude Test to Scholastic Assessment Test in 1990, and finally to a meaningless acronym in 1994.
Short of economic affirmative action, Yale cannot be expected to accept a greater number of highly-motivated yet often opportunity-deprived poorer applicants simply because more of them apply.
Until serious reform is made at the middle- and high-school levels to give students in beleaguered school districts the same types of opportunities as their more advantaged competition, upper-income applicants will continue to bring more to the admissions table on average, and the fair playing field will remain elusive.
The writer is a freshman in Saybrook College.