Wake Forest University

Class-based Affirmative Action in College Admissions

Rethinking Admissions

Continuing the Conversation

Class-based Affirmative Action in College Admissions

The United States Supreme Court is expected to soon deliver its ruling regarding the use of race and ethnicity as considerations in college admissions. Many believe that a majority of the Court’s nine members will vote in favor of altogether banning or drastically altering the criteria around which race can be utilized as a consideration.

However, a new study to be published this summer suggests that the use of class-based affirmative action may prove useful in helping colleges to build a more diverse student body – from both racial and socioeconomic perspectives. Whereas previously class-based affirmative action was thought to decrease the number of minority applicants who were admitted, the University of Colorado at Boulder has presented data from elaborate experiments it conducted to show that racial diversity did in fact increase. The UC Boulder experiments included “disadvantage” and “overachievement” indices, a modification from previous experiments, to identify and reward students who performed at high levels amidst significant adversity. Additionally, the UC Boulder study used class as a “primary” consideration, though it was not considered at the same level as classroom performance or standardized test scores.

The UC Boulder data also reinforced that low-income applicants experienced no increased rates of admission in cases of race-based affirmative action. Many colleges may soon adopt models similar to UC Boulder’s as it proves to have greater societal support (as compared to race-based affirmative action) and can be more effective toward goals of improved diversity on college campuses.

Read more on Inside Higher Ed.

 

 

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