With the US Supreme Court’s decision striking down race-conscious admissions, we at Rossbach O’Connor Educational Consulting are considering the near-term consequences on the admissions process as well as the potential effect on applicants. Colleges and universities across the country have issued statements, reacting to the decision. How will the nuances of the decision regarding Affirmative Action be enacted? What measures are colleges taking in response to the decision? How might questions in college applications look different without Affirmative Action? Will all cohorts of demographics be affected in some way? How can we best answer our students’ questions and concerns?
Many are hoping that Affirmative Action will eventually be re-construed to reflect socio-economic class rather than race, producing an alternative and perhaps equitable form of diversity. How this factor will be discerned could be linked to financial aid reporting by families, the high school profiles that are submitted as part of every applicant’s file, or even the use of a tool, Landscape, created by the College Board that rates school districts’ socio-economic profile. Some colleges are beginning to address the issue by offering free tuition: last week, Duke announced a free tuition program for North and South Carolina students whose families earn less than $150,000 annually, for example.
The Common Application already includes questions that ask students about their assistance with sibling care, financial support of their family through work, and care of elderly family members. All of these questions are intended to get a better picture of the student in the context of family environment and responsibilities. In addition, the question box on the application regarding race can be redacted for colleges, much the same way that a student’s test scores can be hidden from view. Steps are already underway to accommodate the Court’s decision, and we will be continually interested in the impact this decision has not only on the students with whom we work, but all students who strive to pursue a college education.
Our association, IECA, issued a statement today that offers a broad perspective on the decision. Our focus at Rossbach O’Connor will be to focus on our work with students and to stay connected, as we always strive to do, with our colleagues in admissions.