Updates to the U.S. Admissions


It’s back to school time.

The Common Application has done its formal flip for the 2023-24 academic year, and the University of California application is open! It’s “go time” for students applying to the United States.

Since the US race-based admission decisions in late June, I have been getting almost daily emails regarding my thoughts about how this will impact the fall 2024 admission cycle. I have MANY, and I have shared these with my clients in session.

I thought it might be helpful to share some of the resources that I have found most helpful in tracking the dialogue around both admission changes related to race-based admission and the resulting conversation around legacy admission.  

For the official releases direct from the Supreme Court:

See here for Harvard case

See here for NC case

This resource page from the College Board is the next best place to start. It sticks to the facts. If you scroll down, you can actually listen to the oral arguments for each case (STUDENTS FOR FAIR ADMISSIONS, INC. v. PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLEGE and STUDENTS FOR FAIR ADMISSIONS, INC. v. UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA ET AL.). 

I also really liked the straightforward approach of this Education Week article, “College Admission Post-Affirmative Action: What Educators Need to Know.” It is geared towards education professionals, so I find the angle valuable, intentional, and appropriate.   

I also loved this approach by The New York Times. It is a pictograph of admission rates for many US colleges. It is attempting to demonstrate that the new race-based rulings really only affect the most selective colleges. My husband, son, and I spent well over an hour guessing admit rates at various schools, trying to correctly identify all the bubbles. There were some surprises for us, too, in the size of various institutions. (Did you know that Central Florida is larger than both University of Florida and Florida State?)

Those of you who follow the monthly Founder’s Feature know that I really love The Daily podcast. Here are two excellent episodes around US Admission:

Affirmative Action for the 1 Percent

The Supreme Court Ends Affirmative Action

This is a good summary by Inside Higher Education of how the Supreme Court decision has affected various college’s individual essay prompts. It discusses how colleges will try to dig out information about a student’s background with direct essay prompts.  

Here is a good example that I recently noticed:

Brown’s prompt from last year:

Brown’s culture fosters a community in which students challenge the ideas of others and have their ideas challenged in return, promoting a deeper and clearer understanding of the complex issues confronting society. This active engagement in dialogue is as present outside the classroom as it is in academic spaces. Tell us about a time you were challenged by a perspective that differed from your own. How did you respond? (200-250 words)

Brown’s prompt from this year:

Students entering Brown often find that making their home on College Hill naturally invites reflection on where they came from. Share how an aspect of your growing up has inspired or challenged you, and what unique contributions this might allow you to make to the Brown community. (200-250 words)

After the race-based case, there has been serious and nuanced discussion about legacy admission as a form of reverse affirmative action (especially pertaining to the wealthy and privileged). The argument here is that race-based admission is a priority admission category, and now that it has been deemed illegal, other priority admission categories are under scrutiny. I do wonder whether athletic admission is the next priority admission category to go under the microscope?

This USA Today article defines the issue clearly, concisely and neutrally in its presentation. It has a good summary of institutions that have made public announcements and policy changes about legacy admission since June.

I have been really fascinated by Town and Countrys coverage of US admission topics lately. It clearly sells magazines and online subscriptions. They have some of the most interesting journalism regarding the changes in US college admission since Covid. It is interesting to watch a lifestyle magazine have traction in this space. I think this article, “The War on Legacy Admissions is Just Beginning” is an interesting representation in the space.

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