Colleges throughout the country are plotting new ways to weigh race in the admissions process after a Supreme Court ruling that blocked the use of race-based affirmative action policies, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Supreme Court ruled in June that Harvard University and the University of North Carolina’s use of affirmative action admissions policies was unconstitutional, halting the practice across higher education institutions. Colleges and universities are considering the use of essays and different potential student recruiting methods following the Supreme Court ruling, according to the WSJ. (RELATED: Another University Ditches Legacy Admissions After SCOTUS Ruling On Race-Based Practices)
“You open the door and you’re stepping into blank space,” Art Coleman, managing partner and co-founder of EducationCounsel, a law firm that works with universities, told the outlet. “The fear of litigation is real.”
The WSJ asked more than 50 selective schools how they plan to change their application process in light of the Supreme Court ruling, with 35 saying they are still reviewing the decision and how they will adjust their policies. Several schools were advised by their legal counsel to not discuss how they are changing their application process following the Court’s ruling, the WSJ reported.
Rice University in Texas, Colorado College, Hampshire College in Massachusetts and Lehigh University in New York will be adjusting their essay questions to still consider race, the WSJ reported.
“The idea is to provide a vehicle for students of all backgrounds and all contexts to feel as though they can tell their story in a way that the rest of the application might not allow them to do,” Dan Warner, Lehigh’s vice provost for admissions and financial aid, told the WSJ.
Sarah Lawrence College will use Supreme Court Justice John Roberts’ opinion for their essay question.
“In a 2023 majority decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, ‘Nothing prohibits universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected the applicant’s life, so long as that discussion is concretely tied to a quality of character or unique ability that the particular applicant can contribute to the university,’” the essay prompt says. “Drawing upon examples from your life, a quality of your character, and/or a unique ability you possess, describe how you believe your goals for a college education might be impacted, influenced, or affected by the Court’s decision.”
Other schools said they may include reminders for those reviewing applications that they should consider someone’s background and the perspective the applicant could bring to campus, the WSJ reported. Colorado College admissions and recruiting staff are reevaluating which high schools they will recruit potential students from.
“This is not the time to just keep doing what you’ve always been doing,” Karen Kristof, Colorado College admissions dean, told the outlet. “You do that at your own peril.”
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