Discrimination in College Admission

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Epsilon
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02 Nov 2014, 6:18 pm

So I've been submitting my applications and was wondering if colleges do discriminate against people with disabilities, specifically mental ones? I know it's illegal and all that, but how can anyone prove colleges do not discriminate?


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Protogenoi
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02 Nov 2014, 8:47 pm

Hmm... after some research... It appears that the answer is "Yes."

The rate of colleges discriminating against those with mental illness has increased significantly since 2007. And yes, it is very, very illegal. It is also hard to prove. There has been a lot of lawsuits over discrimination recently (along with a ton of free speech related lawsuits.)

Eastern Illinois University now uses behavioral contracts to hold students accountable for controlling behavior related to mental illness. In one case, a student with an eating disorder was asked to sign an oath stating that she would ?refrain from behaviors that contribute to disordered eating patterns (such as purging, laxatives, etc?)."
^Now that's messed up

Many universities are now considering screening for mental health, which would only increase discrimination, especially for those of us on the spectrum.

For discrimination in the application process, I would assume proving discrimination is even harder than normal. Essentially discrimination would be determined by statistics. They are essentially required to accept a portion (say 10%) of all disabled applicants. The college can then discriminate by making sure to hit that legal threshold and screw everyone else. The law just simply isn't very enforceable at a personal/individual level.

Essentially, you'd need a very good lawyer to get anywhere near proving that you individually got hit by the discrimination.

For more information:
LINK



Fnord
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02 Nov 2014, 9:10 pm

Defense Lawyer: "Your Honor, if the plaintiff has indeed (as he claims) a 'Mental Deficiency', then how is it possible that he could even recognize that he has been discriminated against? The defense rests."

Judge: "Case dismissed."


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Protogenoi
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02 Nov 2014, 9:26 pm

Fnord wrote:
Defense Lawyer: "Your Honor, if the plaintiff has indeed (as he claims) a 'Mental Deficiency', then how is it possible that he could even recognize that he has been discriminated against? The defense rests."

Judge: "Case dismissed."


Precisely how the game works. They just sugarcoat and lengthen the words.

The same is true with organ donation. If you have a diagnosis, your chances are lessened.



Epsilon
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02 Nov 2014, 10:35 pm

Thank you for the research and the harsh but true responses.
If only colleges would promote neurodiversity as much as they promote other kinds of diversities. The College of William and Mary seems to acknowledge it. http://www.wm.edu/sites/neurodiversity/


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Pitabread123
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02 Nov 2014, 10:37 pm

I suppose some colleges, especially those quirky lib arts schools, might actually embrace that kind of thing and give you a greater chance of getting in (dunno if this is actually true though). Maybe some schools are apprehensive about admitting aspies because they're afraid they're going to go on a shooting spree? Honestly though, this is something you can write about in your application essay, make its tand out and all that.



AspergersActor8693
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02 Nov 2014, 11:05 pm

I guess it depends on where you go. I've graduated from Community College and am at University now and I've never been discriminated. What Pitabread123 said about Liberal Arts colleges possibly being more accepting of neurodiversity, I think that may be true. The University I am attending now is a Liberal Arts college and I had to write an essay for my application. I dedicated a whole portion of it about my Aspergers and all that I had overcome with it, and they accepted me a week later with a $23k dollar a year scholarship. So there must be something more accepting and positive with Liberal Arts colleges despite all the crud people say about them.



Protogenoi
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02 Nov 2014, 11:11 pm

Epsilon wrote:
Thank you for the research and the harsh but true responses.
If only colleges would promote neurodiversity as much as they promote other kinds of diversities. The College of William and Mary seems to acknowledge it. http://www.wm.edu/sites/neurodiversity/

I live near William and Mary. Very nice campus. It's a good school. And to be accepting of neurodiversity does seem plausible for that school... They are best known for their legal school which is #3 in the country. And it's not the easiest to get into regardless, which allows them to be extremely picky about who they pick to go to the school.
It's a good initiative, I wish more schools would claim that. But beware, words and actions aren't the same. I don't know how far the initiative reaches. It probably doesn't reach as far as the shareholders.
I don't know, maybe I'm just being assuming wrongly.



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05 Nov 2014, 1:53 am

I've always assumed that it's the way that you word your condition in the personal statement or supplements (for example, focus more on how you overcame or adapted over simply describing your challenges). Didn't know some places actually practice discrimination like that... I talked to an admissions officer for the UC system and he encouraged mentioning any disabilities. I also got into a summer program that's statistically harder to get into than any undergraduate school in the U.S. and in the application I made Asperger's a pretty big part of this one essay.

Darnit, was already worried enough about racial discrimination for college apps. :lol:

Anyway, the issue is that if all they did was reject you, there's no way (that I know of at least) to prove that they discriminated against you for that one specific part of your application. They can just claim that they looked at your application holistically and say that it was the rest of it that was the problem. :?


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Epsilon
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05 Nov 2014, 10:47 pm

Sempiternal wrote:
I've always assumed that it's the way that you word your condition in the personal statement or supplements (for example, focus more on how you overcame or adapted over simply describing your challenges). Didn't know some places actually practice discrimination like that... I talked to an admissions officer for the UC system and he encouraged mentioning any disabilities. I also got into a summer program that's statistically harder to get into than any undergraduate school in the U.S. and in the application I made Asperger's a pretty big part of this one essay.

Darnit, was already worried enough about racial discrimination for college apps. :lol:

Anyway, the issue is that if all they did was reject you, there's no way (that I know of at least) to prove that they discriminated against you for that one specific part of your application. They can just claim that they looked at your application holistically and say that it was the rest of it that was the problem. :?

I based my entire Common App essay on how I have dealt with autism and reached out to others with autism. I also didn't ask around about proofreads (like I probably should have) because I wanted it to be my voice, 100% unadulterated. But sometimes, no matter how hard I try to avoid thinking about it, I feel like whoever reads it will pity my neurodiversity, especially with all the prominence of autism in the news lately like someone mentioned. And as you say, I have no way to prove it, just like you can't really prove racial discrimination in college apps either.

I spent a long time searching for more liberal colleges who I thought might appreciate/respect neurodiversity, but throughout my search I have tried (and sometimes failed) to believe that any college, no matter their ideology, would appreciate neurodiversity


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Sempiternal
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05 Nov 2014, 11:51 pm

There's been instances of people who mentioned having Asperger's on their application and got into some great places. It probably really just comes down to how you go about writing your essay (and yours seems fine to me :) ).

As for me, I'm just going to stick to what I have in mind for my personal statement and if colleges don't accept me because of Asperger's, whatever. I'm sure that I'll get in at least 3 on my list. :lol:

Perhaps I'm just a bit optimistic--I think as long as you're confident with your test scores, grades, and extracurricular activities, you'll be fine.


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Jacoby
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12 Nov 2014, 2:50 am

They say they don't and I think they probably do, I mentioned in the essay or whatever I wrote when I was applying to places right out of high school and no 4 year school I applied to accepted me. I guess I had other things going against me to but I don't think it helped.



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12 Nov 2014, 1:09 pm

There are other ways of getting into a 4 year school.
I know that in the state of Virginia, you can complete the two years of community college and then transfer to the public (and some/most private) universities to finish the 4 year degree. You still need to find a way to pay for it, but you don't have to worry about applying. Additionally, since Virginia is the only state in America to have a public university that has an A rating (Christopher Newport University), it is a good option. It really helps stop admissions discrimination.



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19 Nov 2014, 4:33 pm

Protogenoi wrote:
Epsilon wrote:
Thank you for the research and the harsh but true responses.
If only colleges would promote neurodiversity as much as they promote other kinds of diversities. The College of William and Mary seems to acknowledge it. http://www.wm.edu/sites/neurodiversity/

I live near William and Mary. Very nice campus. It's a good school. And to be accepting of neurodiversity does seem plausible for that school... They are best known for their legal school which is #3 in the country. And it's not the easiest to get into regardless, which allows them to be extremely picky about who they pick to go to the school.
It's a good initiative, I wish more schools would claim that. But beware, words and actions aren't the same. I don't know how far the initiative reaches. It probably doesn't reach as far as the shareholders.
I don't know, maybe I'm just being assuming wrongly.


My university actually has a fairly comprehensive support program for students with HFA.


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21 Nov 2014, 12:53 am

Fnord wrote:
Defense Lawyer: "Your Honor, if the plaintiff has indeed (as he claims) a 'Mental Deficiency', then how is it possible that he could even recognize that he has been discriminated against? The defense rests."

Judge: "Case dismissed."


Catch-22! To answer the OP's question and to push back on suggestions that colleges (intentionally) discriminate, in recent years it appears that substantially higher percentages of students with disabilities attend college than years past. http://hechingerreport.org/content/coll ... led_14704/