Sara Harberson, who "worked in admissions at the University of Pennsylvania and at Franklin & Marshall College":
In all, holistic admissions adds subjectivity to admissions decisions, and the practice makes it difficult to explain who gets in, who doesn't, and why. But has holistic admissions become a guise for allowing cultural and even racial biases to dictate the admissions process?
To some degree, yes.
As an admissions professional, I gave students, families and guidance counselors a list of what it took to be admitted — the objective expectations of a competitive applicant. I didn't mention that racial stereotyping, money, connections and athletics sometimes overshadow these high benchmarks we all promoted. The veil of holistic admissions allows for these other factors to become key elements in a student's admissions decision.
My wife teaches a high school government and politics class. When she covers affirmative action and talks about how the policy is intended to help disadvantaged minorities, her Asian students perk up. Some even smile. And she tells them sorry, but Asians aren't considered a disadvantaged minority. They say, essentially, "WTF?!" She then has what ed school types call a teachable moment.