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Can political involvement hurt admissions chances?

fredricafredrica Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
My 10th grade daughter is very interested in conservative politics but up to this point has not been actively involved. She goes to a small, liberal private high school and there are no active conservative groups on campus. She would like to start a chapter of Young America's Foundation (conservative group) or a Republican club.

Her concern is YAF and college Republican groups have been in the news recently because several college chapters have brought certain high-profile conservative speakers to campus, resulting in protests and riots. She is afraid being active in one of these groups could potentially hurt her college admissions.

My daughter is not a "rock the boat" type and is not interested in stirring up controversy. She is truly passionate about conservatism and this is a way for her to get involved in something she's interested in. This could end up being an important EC for her. She's also involved in volleyball year-round (Varsity school team & club team), and she is on the Mock Trial team.

Clearly the faculty at most universities is overwhelmingly liberal, but what about the admissions office? Would they be less likely to admit an active conservative student in light of the current campus political climate?
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Replies to: Can political involvement hurt admissions chances?

  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 7,384 Senior Member
    Why is she so interested in conservatism (I would ask this about any other political ideology)? Is this strong in her family, church or town environment? Just curious.

    I would imagine starting a chapter of YAF would not hurt her, or a GOP club. But if she wrote an essay that was critical of, say, benefits for the poor, that might be a factor.

    I have no idea really but she should go ahead and be herself, do the things that interest her, and apply!
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 11,763 Senior Member
    Are there others at her school who will join these clubs? What will be their purpose? Would it be possible for her to join a similar group outside of school?

    I think these groups are most successful if they are founded by students who ARE rock the boat types, who are interested in stirring up controversy.
  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger Registered User Posts: 877 Member
    My guess is it could hurt at the elite colleges, which emphasize holistic admissions. Politics is increasingly polarized with conservatives being stereotyped as racist, sexist, Islamophobic and homophobic.
  • GoNoles85GoNoles85 Registered User Posts: 781 Member
    edited March 18
    Most of the faculty I know are not liberal just FYI. The faculty I know are as divided as the country is right now. Split 50-50 down the middle. Perhaps most of the faculty at a LAC is liberal, I don't know, but I honesty think that faculty get bashed for that all the time as if somehow faculty only teach because they can't do and that somehow influences their politics or something but in my experience faculty have strong professional experiences and connections and are about as conservative as they are liberal politically.

    Regarding you question, I don't think starting a conservative group will hurt her as long as it isn't an extreme group that is exclusive and hate based. I think even liberal people realize, at some level, that government is too big, not very efficient, and capable of wasting obscene amounts of money and in debt close to $20T so even liberal folks realize we could all benefit from less government, less reliance on government, less regulations of just about everything unless they are common sense regulations even though they maintain their liberal core ideals.
  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo Registered User Posts: 4,698 Senior Member
    Actually, I think it could be very interesting if she's presents it in a non-judgmental, always learning way. Cornel West and Robert George are both at Princeton-opposite ends of the political spectrum-and they both lament the lack of intellectual diversity, IOW, perspectives from every political and otherwise viewpoint.

    https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/03/16/ideological-odd-couple-robert-george-and-cornel-west-issue-joint-statement-against


    I would always recommend someone reading essays to check for content and language usage, but I would never tell your daughter to hide who she is. If it's important to her, she will want to look for schools that are welcoming of a variety of viewpoints (even if the vast majority of the kids are liberal). Do some googling on colleges that at least claim to really welcome various viewpoints. Also check out the FIRE website and possibly the book, Choosing the Right College, by John Zmirak (though it's a few years old now, and might not be as relevant).
  • happy1happy1 Registered User Posts: 14,883 Senior Member
    I don't think it would hurt at all (as long as it isn't some crazy radical organization). Colleges want a diverse group of students with a diverse set of opinions on campus. She should be herself and get involved in things that pique her interest. If perhaps it hurts at one very liberal oriented college then that school probably isn't the right fit for her anyway.
  • marvin100marvin100 Registered User Posts: 9,014 Senior Member
    edited March 18
    I strongly, strongly believe it won't hurt her chances (unless of course she strays into sketchy "alt-right" territory or something like that, much like how environmentalism is certainly fine, but ELF membership might not be).

    I've know conservative activist students who have ended up at even liberal bastions like Oberlin and Swarthmore.
  • fredricafredrica Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Compmon, our family is generally conservative but not overly so - I don't know where her strong interest comes from! We're not a politically active family and we don't go to church. Our town is mixed. It's just her!
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 59,272 Senior Member
    marvin100 wrote:
    I strongly, strongly believe it won't hurt her chances (unless of course she strays into sketchy "alt-right" territory or something like that, much like how environmentalism is certainly fine, but ELF membership might not be).

    However, isn't "sketchy 'alt-right' territory" now seen as the conservative mainstream in the US, both by conservatives and others? So a conservative who is not there, or who opposes that, may have to be careful about articulating his/her viewpoint to make it clear that s/he is not there or opposed.
  • preppedparentpreppedparent Registered User Posts: 1,201 Senior Member
    I'd be careful. It isn't far from talking about conservatism to where you stand on Health Care Reform and Immigration and her opinion may not be popular with liberal schools ADCOMS. It may be a topic to stay clear of.
  • Tperry1982Tperry1982 Registered User Posts: 1,427 Senior Member
    I think that the benefit of her starting an organization that she is passionate about and being in leadership in it will bode very well for her in admissions in most schools. Even the Ivies, which are usually seen as very liberal, have students on campus who are conservative, either politically or religiously. What they all have in common is that they are leaders in some way or another. Leadership is the quality they look for in all their students. Do not equate some schools protests about certain polarizing speakers to mean that they are biased across the board. While some will not allow folk to come who spew racist, misogynistic, or anti-semitic rhetoric, persons who come with a broad range of views are welcome.

    Also, I am a big one on fit. There are schools that are very conservative (both political and religious). You have to figure out where your child is going to fit. In my case, my kid came from a very liberal independent high school in DC. She never would have chosen a religious school like Georgetown or a politically conservative school like Liberty though students who choose that route are usually very happy with their choices. I know for a fact that some of these students would hate Yale with a passion and see it as way too loose and liberal. To each his own.
  • marvin100marvin100 Registered User Posts: 9,014 Senior Member
    ucbalumnus wrote:
    However, isn't "sketchy 'alt-right' territory" now seen as the conservative mainstream in the US, both by conservatives and others?

    While the distinction has blurred in some areas, educated, scholarly adults (on all parts of the political spectrum) are unlikely to share that conflation, imo.
  • TooOld4SchoolTooOld4School Registered User Posts: 2,381 Senior Member
    edited March 18
    Most of the schools with holistic admissions are looking for passionate, involved students. Anything that shows her leadership ability will help her at the vast majority of institutions. The super-liberal name brand colleges know that they will have plenty of opportunities to change her mind when she enters the echo chamber , the colleges who actually encourage debate will welcome her. Most colleges have their liberals in the humanities, and the centrists in the sciences, engineering, and business. Very few have many truly conservative faculty, through they often have conservative staff. The few that are so closed that they would deny her admission because of her political beliefs are places she would be unhappy with anyway.
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