Column: Applying for graduate school is an unfair process



I am currently applying to 12 PhD programs in Computational Biology all of which have relatively low average acceptance rates. The process is not centralized like undergraduate admissions; it’s filling out a dozen different requests, personal statements and additional questions.

The work accumulates quickly, as well as each application fee. My credit card has been emptied 10 times, each time with charges ranging from $ 90 to $ 115.

When applying to multiple schools, these fees make the application process unfair for students from various socio-economic backgrounds.

In an email to the Daily Tar Heel, UNC Media Relations said the University’s application fee was charged to offset the cost of processing applications and to provide funds for student recruitment.

“Fees will only be charged for limited and dedicated purposes and will not be used to cover the costs of general academic and administrative campus operations, including academic programs and faculty and administration salaries and benefits.” , the UNC System Strategy Manual Readings. “As per the quote above, the Council will do everything possible to keep the fees for students as low as possible while providing the income necessary to support the purposes for which the fees are charged.”

At UNC, there are opportunities to request a fee waiver, but only eligible applicants can apply.

This includes individuals who are permanent full-time employees of the UNC, active-duty military personnel, and U.S. citizens who meet eligibility as needed, among others. In addition to the strict qualification requirements, the fee waiver request can take up to several days to be reviewed, meaning it must be submitted well in advance of the deadline.

Recommendations for changing the application fee are sent to the Board of Governors as part of the annual tuition and fee approval process. Media relations said the board of governors will strive to keep fees low and no increases are allowed for 2021-2022, but are still subject to increases in the years to come.

At the national level, for professional programs like law or medical school, the cost of applying spikes significantly. For medical admissions, it costs $ 170 to submit the application to the first school and $ 42 for each additional school. In addition, there is a fee for submitting transcripts, submitting secondary applications to each school, travel and accommodation for interviews and MCAT preparation materials.

In addition to application fees, for many graduate programs, standardized testing is also a financial burden.

The MCAT costs $ 320, the LSAT costs $ 200, and the GRE costs $ 205 just to register. With some candidates choosing to take the exams more than once, standardized testing has proven to be a significant barrier for marginalized and disadvantaged communities pursuing higher education.

For the majority of these programs, standardized test results are still required and used as an admission factor.

“This is primarily because the admissions team for the MS program finds GRE scores useful in predicting student success for a course-based graduate program such as our MS program,” said Nilay Tanik Argon, professor in the Department of Statistics and Operations. Research. “We plan to reconsider this requirement for the MS program in the coming years.”

In contrast, UNC’s Biological and Biomedical Sciences program has eliminated the GRE test requirement.

“The cost of the GRE was indeed part of our conversations about retaining it as a requirement for admission to the BBSP umbrella at UNC,” said Jean Cook, professor of biochemistry and biophysics and pharmacology at the UNC, who is also a senior advisor. for higher education.

Additionally, a variety of studies have proven that academic environments face the same lingering inequalities in society – and to change this, it is imperative that the assessment metrics for those applying for and involved in academic change dismantle them. privileges. Items like the GRE were found to be statistically more beneficial for students of higher socioeconomic status and did not predict earning a doctorate as expected.

To tackle inequalities in graduate admissions and in academia as a whole, it is imperative to reassess the cost of applying for higher education degrees and to make informed decisions to make the process fairer for all. the people involved.


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