Colleges brace for the end of affirmative action

Colleges are reevaluating their admissions process as they try to figure out how to attract a diverse student body in a world without affirmative action, Axios reported.

The Supreme Court is widely expected to rule later this year that schools cannot explicitly consider applicants’ race, undoing affirmative action. 

The Court has chosen to take up a pair of cases, Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. the University of North Carolina (UNC) and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, that challenge affirmative action in admissions programs — a topic the Court has already addressed numerous times. 

For more than 40 years, the Supreme Court has held that race is a permissible consideration among multiple factors in the higher education admissions processes. 

That consideration of race is exactly what is at issue in the two cases the Court is considering this term.

Many legal experts predict that the conservative majority on the Court will bring an end to affirmative action in education as we know it. 

In order for universities to have a diverse student body, they will have to make it happen through different means, which means colleges may be required to make some dramatic changes. 

Colleges are not publicizing their plans yet and will have to tailor whatever they do to the specifics of the court’s decision. 

But all available indications from the top court suggest that a post-affirmative-action world is coming. 

Experts say that institutions are going to be scrambling. 

Diversity has suffered at schools that have previously had to abandon affirmative action.

Some believe that standardized tests may be slashed away if schools cannot take race into account. The Covid pandemic fast-tracked some universities’ decision to scrap standardized testing requirements, which have been seen as a barrier to admissions for lower-income students.

Some universities are saying that they are particularly concerned that a ruling eliminating race-conscious admissions could undermine schools’ ability to understand important parts of a student’s background.

Schools might also refocus their recruitment efforts on certain areas, or may look more at the socio-economic background of a student to still get a full picture of a potential applicant.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule this summer on challenges to the use of race in the admissions processes at Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

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