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Monday, June 24, 2013
What Will Race-Blind Admissions Really Look Like?
If it seems like I've blogged a lot about affirmative action over the past year or so, it's because I see it as a topic that is central to college admissions, both literally and symbolically. It also happens to be "on trial", so to speak, in the US Supreme Court. A significant decision is due from the court any day now.
While systematic racism plays a role in the furor over affirmative action, I believe it's the sheer anxiety of "getting in", that makes it such a hot button issue. As a general rule, people don't really care about stuff unless 1) it's relevant to them and 2) it's their stuff and someone is trying to take it away.
Which is why its particularly interesting that both opponents and proponents of affirmative action are, in some circles, finding common ground in the area of socioeconomics.
It is commonly reported that poor or disadvantaged students comprise infinitesimally small proportions of the student bodies at selective universities. These students are more likely to go to community colleges or less selective universities, where graduation rates are significantly smaller. This is true even amongst the top academic performers.
There are eight states in the U.S. with affirmative action bans currently in place. In the wake of these bans, several of the states, including California, have implemented programs aimed at courting lower-income applicants.
Many have argued that, if diversity in education is the goal, race-based affirmative action isn't the only answer. Luring disadvantaged students into the privileged world of selective universities isn't a one-stage process, and it may kick into a higher gear if affirmative action is effectively outlawed.
For anyone with an eye on the college admissions process, these unfolding stories may turn out to be game changers.
For a breadth of opinions on the subject: NY Times
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