What If Colleges Embraced Affirmative Action for Class Instead of Race?

November 01, 2013

​A recent Atlantic article discussed the move toward class-based as opposed to race-based affirmative action. Under the proposed system, schools will deemphasize race and put more weight on socioeconomic status. This move, ideally, will not only benefit low-income students but will also maintain racial diversity at schools in states doing away with race-based affirmative action.

“Low-income African-Americans and Latinos tend to grow up in more-concentrated areas of poverty than their white peers. Other factors may also be at work: African-American and Latino students are less likely to enroll in selective colleges even when they have solid grades and test scores.”

So, is the new system working?

Yes! If the goal is to better represent disadvantaged students, studies show class-based affirmative action is achieving on-campus diversity while putting less weight on race.

In 2009, admissions officers were tasked with reviewing 478 applications, first under Colorado University-Boulder’s race-based policy and then under the new class-based policy, with all racial identifiers removed. “Officers ended up admitting 9% more underrepresented minority students under the race-blind policy than and 20% more students of very low socioeconomic status.”

Another CU-Boulder experiment conducted in 2010 evaluated 2,000 borderline (admittance could swing either way) applications. Half used a hybrid class-plus-race approach, and half used the old race-only approach. “The hybrid approach resulted in a 13% increase in acceptance rates for the poorest students, a 17% increase for underrepresented minority students, and a 32% increase in the lowest-income, minority students.”

(You may read more about both experiments in Harvard Law and Policy Review.)

These results are heartening. But, diversity is a complex beast and there’s no formula that lays out the factors to maximize diversity. At least this new approach seems to be a step in the right direction and can be considered more fair and more equalizing. And, perhaps more importantly, the Supreme Court will be able to dodge having to admit (pun intended) that they have no idea how to rule on racial affirmative action.

The article ends on what I think is the right note: “Outreach and recruitment comes first. Then, once students are admitted, the university needs to help every admitted student make it to graduation.”

What are your thoughts on implementing a class-based or hybrid system?



Browse Successful Application Files

brianlin
WashU ‘20


Accepted to WashU, CMU, GA Tech, UGA

Aspiring Communication Design and Computer Science student, food lover extraordinaire
alm25
UT Austin ‘19


Accepted to UC Berkeley, USC, UMich, Illinois, UT Austin, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCSD, UCSB, U of Minnesota, Arizona, WVU, Cal Poly, San Jose State

I'm from the SF Bay Area, but I'm betraying my roots by attending The University of Texas at Austin as a chemical engineering major. I like music, science and eating!
Mgtorres33
USC ‘19


Accepted to USC, NYU, UMich, UCSD, Rochester, BC, BU, Miami OH, Loyola U Chicago, Miami, U of Minnesota, Drexel, Illinois

Typical Student from Chicago who has had the best of the American/Hispanic Culture. As well, I applied to 25 schools
pam3171
Harvard ‘19


Accepted to Harvard, SD State, USD, Yale, Drake

Harvard '19. President's Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking. Global Health and Health Policy Concentrator. Legal and political background.

New Posts

High School Juniors Part 3: Talk to Your HS Counselor
High School Juniors Part 3: Talk to Your HS Counselor
February 19, 2018

The role of your high school counselor plays in your college application process can vary, but counselors are an incredible resource during what can be a stressful, anxiety-inducing time. Some students may be really close...

The Coalition Essay Prompts 2018-2019
The Coalition Essay Prompts 2018-2019
February 15, 2018

With another application season behind us, it’s time to get ready for the next. Here are the 2018-2019 Coalition Application Essay Prompts.The Coalition Application Essay Prompts 2018-20191. Tell a story from your life,...

Top 20 U.S. Public Universities 2018: Features & Advice
Top 20 U.S. Public Universities 2018: Features & Advice
February 07, 2018

With Ivy Leagues and Liberal Arts Colleges, private universities typically dominate the college search conversations. But, you would be missing out if you didn’t also consider these public universities offering top tier programs!Public...

Engineering Summer Programs for High School Students
Engineering Summer Programs for High School Students
February 05, 2018

Engineering is one of the most popular majors students apply to, but other than AP Physics and AP Calculus, how can high school students discover this interest? Excelling in your high school’s science and...

AdmitSee 2017: Year In Review
AdmitSee 2017: Year In Review
February 02, 2018

With another year and application season behind us, we’re excited to share with you all the milestones and achievements we hit in 2017 thanks to you guys!We couldn’t have done it without the...

Load More Posts