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The Future of Affirmative Action and The Impact on College Admissions

This Sunday's New York Times ran a piece on how the end of affirmative action could impact college admissions. As you may know, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on cases against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, originally filed in 2014 by Students for Fair Admissions, by this June. This organization contends that these two universities discriminated against white and Asian applicants in their admissions processes. The Supreme Court is likely to rule in favor of Students for Fair Admissions, thus eliminating or severely scaling back colleges' ability to consider race in their admissions practices.

Should affirmative action end, you may be wondering how the college recruiting, application, and admissions processes will be affected. In external aspects of admissions such as outreach to potential applicants, colleges would not have the right to specifically target potential applicants based on race. This reality will hamper an institution's ability to directly target underrepresented minorities and encourage them to apply, almost certainly leading to diminished diversity on campus. However, many colleges are planning to mitigate this challenge by instead focusing their outreach efforts on those students who would be the first in their families to attend college (often referred to as first-gen students), those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and/or those from underserved areas. Given that students from these groups will often also identify as one or more of the minority groups that are underrepresented on college campuses, this pivot in outreach style can be a way to continue to recruit those individuals.

On the internal side of the admissions process, application options or policies that tend to favor more affluent students, such as early decision (ED) and legacy preferences, may come under increased scrutiny. Parents who follow Laura George Consulting’s Facebook page and our Parents of College Bound Kids Facebook group have recently asked if these practices might go away in next year's admissions cycle or soon afterwards. I do not believe this will be the case, as I think colleges will take some time to consider next steps and not react quickly or radically. I frankly don’t expect ED to go away any time soon, as this application option is firmly embedded in many private colleges' practices, and it leads to the admission of a defined portion of an incoming class. Early Decision benefits a college in terms of increasing overall yield, bringing in guaranteed revenue, and leaving fewer spaces that need to be filled within the more arduous regular decision review process for their admissions staff. A few schools have already done away with legacy admissions, but this practice is also ingrained in many selective private colleges' applicant review processes, and it results in a major source of funding (via alumni donations). My belief is that many schools will continue with this practice, at least for now.

It will really take a large number of schools deciding to do away with ED and/or legacy admissions for the elimination of these practices to become a widespread phenomenon. Because both of these practices lead to more secure and robust revenue for colleges, I believe schools will instead try to mitigate their use as well as counteract the inability to consider race by trying to target/offer scholarship and grant funds to more first-gen and under-resourced students (which, as previously stated, will certainly include a cross section of minority students).

While the expected elimination of affirmative action will undoubtedly affect the admissions process at many colleges and universities, it is only one aspect among many that are currently in flux in the admissions landscape. As such, navigating the journey to your child’s best-fit college can often feel overwhelming and daunting. At LGC, our team of experts is honored to partner with families and students to confidently guide them through this process. We meet you where you are and provide only the services and support that will empower your unique child. If we can be of assistance to your family in any portion of the college planning, ACT/SAT tutoring/testing, college selection, and/or college essay and application process, please contact us at 847-363-6780,, or by completing our request form for a free 20-minute phone consult on our website at




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