Five ways college admissions can change after affirmative action decisions

Students can change what they write in college essays. And they can’t be tortured by the SAT and ACT anymore.

For the children of alumni? There is pressure to end their lead in the admissions game.

The Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday, which ended race-conscious admissions, is widely expected to lead to a dramatic drop in the number of black and Hispanic students admitted to selective colleges.

But the court’s ruling could have other, surprising consequences, as colleges try to follow the law but also admit students from a diverse range of classes.

The Supreme Court noted that students can highlight their racial or ethnic background in college essays.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said, “Nothing in this opinion should be construed to prevent universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race has affected his or her life, whether through discrimination, motivation, or any other means.” “ wrote.

But Justice Roberts also warned that the essay could not be used as a covert method of telegraphing race.

This means that college essays can radically change in tone and tenor – and in subject matter.

“Right now, students write in about their football practice; They write about their grandmother’s death,” Shannon Gundy, an admissions officer at the University of Maryland, said recently. presentation Sponsored by the American Council on Education.

He further added, “They don’t write about their trials and tribulations. They don’t write about the challenges they had to experience.

Partly because of the coronavirus pandemic, about 1,900 colleges and universities at least temporarily dropped requirements for standardized tests, and moved toward “test-optional” or test-free admission.

Now some colleges may permanently drop those requirements, responding to critics who say the tests favor students from wealthy families.

Eliminating test scores could also protect schools from lawsuits. The plaintiffs in the Supreme Court cases, Students for Fair Admissions, relied heavily on the data in their case against Harvard.

Data released by the College Board, which owns the SAT, shows that students whose families are in the highest economic class score 100 points better than those in the lowest. Racial disparities in test scores are even more severe. In 2022, white students scored an average of 1,098, while black students scored an average of 926.

Admissions offices can go even further, like the University of California system, which has gone “test blind”, meaning it will not look at test scores even if students submit them.

Most colleges have long resisted eliminating a highly criticized admissions practice: promoting the children of alumni, donors and faculty.

But now it can be difficult. In his concurring opinion, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch criticized Harvard for not getting rid of the preference.

And President Biden pledged Thursday that the Department of Education would “analyze practices like legacy admissions and other systems that expand privilege rather than opportunity.”

Mr. Biden is not the first Oval Office official to question the legacy admission. President George W. Bush, who went to Yale with his father and grandfather, said in 2004 that he thought they should be abolished.

Schools generally want to maintain these preferences, saying they build community and help raise funds. Only a select few colleges have dropped them, including the California Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, and Amherst College.

Following the decision, President Biden also called for “a new standard” to evaluate applicants. In addition to test scores and grades, he suggested that schools measure “the adversity a student has gone through.”

“The kid who faced tougher challenges has demonstrated more grit, more determination, and that should be a factor,” Mr Biden said.

Some schools are already taking a student’s background into account in their admissions process. The Medical School at the University of California, Davis evaluates applicants based on the Socio-Economic Diversity Index, or “SED”.

The selected colleges are used to the applicants coming to them. Now, many more people will go out looking for potential students.

For example, the University of Virginia announced a plan this month to target 40 high schools in eight regions of the state that had little history of sending applicants.

An analysis by the university found that only 6 percent of students in the state’s most disadvantaged schools had applied.

A program at the University of California can serve as a model. Program Has provided academic support and college admissions counseling to thousands of high school students in low-income communities.

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