There continues to be a pushback against affirmative action in college admissions with some states prohibiting the inclusion of any consideration of race in the admissions process. Yet some white college applicants are pretending to be Black or another race to gain entry or improve their financial aid odds.
A recent survey by Intelligent, an online magazine for college students, polled 1,250 white college applicants. It found that 34 percent of respondents who applied to colleges or universities admitted to lying on their application about being a racial minority. Of those who lied, 48 percent claimed to be Native American, according to the survey results.
Nearly 75 percent of the respondents who made false claims got accepted into the schools they lied to.
White men (48 percent) were three times more likely to lie than white women (16 percent), according to the survey results.
More white female respondents (18 percent) admitted to lying about being Black than men did (8 percent.)
More than half of the respondents (57 percent) said they lied because they thought they would have a better chance of admission. Thirty-five percent thought they would get a better aid package, Inside Higher Education reported.
“For college applicants who are trying to give their application a boost by pretending to be a racial minority, they may seize on this notion that many Americans of European descent have some Native American DNA in their bloodline,” said Kristen Scatton, managing editor of Intelligent. “However, research has shown that’s not all that common, particularly among white Americans. But applicants are banking on the fact that no college is going to ask them to provide a DNA sample to verify.”
According to Jerome A. Lucido, executive director of the Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice at the University of Southern California, race “does not stand alone as a criteria” in an admission office, especially those found in colleges and universities which are supposedly “race-aware or race-conscious.”
He told Inside Higher Education, “Any mechanistic use of race was prohibited by Supreme Court case law long ago. Instead, race, culture and identity are viewed as inseparable from who the applicant is as a student and future community member.”
Black students still have major obstacles in being admitted to elite colleges. Since many are still the first in their families to attend college, there is no college heritage with families. Legacy admission preferences favor wealthy white students, Inside Higher Education reported.
Even at public colleges, Black college admissions are low. A recent report by the Education Trust on Black and Latinx enrollment at 101 selective public colleges found only 9 percent enroll Black students at rates proportionate to their population within the state.
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