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Changes in Admissions since the SCOTUS Decision

Changes in Admissions since the SCOTUS decision

Written by College Coach Guest Authoron August 31st, 2023

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It’s been about two months since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that colleges and universities—with the exception of military academies—can no longer practice race-conscious admission. In response, admission offices are continuing to assess the consequences of this decision. So far, we’ve seen them take steps to bring their recruitment and evaluation processes into alignment with the law while preserving their continued commitments to enroll a diverse freshman class. What are the changes to the process so far?
  • Supplemental essays: With the Common Application open for the 2023-2024 cycle, supplemental essay topics are now available. One trend we’ve noticed is colleges updating their supplements to include an essay prompt on personal identity. Sarah Lawrence College’s new prompt quotes the words of the SCOTUS justices themselves, while Harvard's is a general invitation to reflect on identity.
  • Legacy admission: The affirmative practice to favor applicants whose relatives attended the university is now under scrutiny. Wesleyan University and Virginia Tech recently eliminated their legacy admission practices and Harvard faces new legal challenges that question their practice of legacy admission. 
  • Recruitment practices: Colleges have reaffirmed their commitment to enrolling diverse and talented communities that represent a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. In order to meet this goal, colleges are closely evaluating outreach and recruitment practices, including which high schools and regions they visit, and what types of partnerships they have with counselors and students in underserved communities. The U.S. Department of Justice recently released a series of questions and answers regarding the Court’s decision, which includes specific direction as to how colleges can continue to take steps in their outreach and recruitment to help achieve their diversity goals.
How will this impact (or not impact!) students applying for Fall 2024 admission?
  • Your college list should not change as a result of the court’s decision. All students admitted to selective institutions earned their spot pre-court decision. Colleges that practiced race-conscious admission were mostly highly selective institutions. If a school was a reach pre-decision, they are still a reach today, regardless of your racial or ethnic identity.
  • Know that it is okay to reference and talk about your racial identity in your activity list and personal essay. As the court’s majority opinion states, “nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.” 
  • Continue to be you! You are the same person you were before the decision was released. Our advice for students is to work hard in your classes, commit to what you love outside the classroom, search for colleges that meet your needs and goals, and represent yourself authentically and holistically in your applications.

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