Affirmative Action in College Admissions | Teen Ink

Affirmative Action in College Admissions MAG

February 13, 2023
By spry385 BRONZE, Cascade, Iowa
spry385 BRONZE, Cascade, Iowa
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Access to an adequate education is one of the most basic rights possessed by humans. Without it, people lack the enlightenment and inspiration that has led to everything from immense technological advancements to simple interactions. Despite the incredible importance of a strong education, there is still poor access to schooling for a large part of the population. In the United States, that proportion is unfairly skewed in the direction of minorities. Most minority groups have faced centuries of scorn and abuse, and education has been no exception. Now more than ever, all people should be provided equal chances to obtain an education, which is why affirmative action should be allowed as one aspect of the college admission process. When used responsibly and in conjunction with other criteria, affirmative action can be used to diversify the student body of a college while not infringing on the constitutional rights of citizens.

The addition of racial diversity in a student body can be an invaluable asset to a school. With diversity, new perspectives and knowledge flows into the classroom. For some schools though, obtaining diversity can be a difficult task. Factors such as lack of access to educational facilities and underrepresentation can hold back prospective minority students, thus leading to an unvaried group of applicants. To remedy this issue, some institutions employ the use of affirmative action in their admissions process. Affirmative action can be extremely beneficial when used with proper restraint. In 1978, the Supreme Court allowed the University of California to continue to consider race in admissions decisions, but said racial quotas went too far. Then, in 1995, their affirmative action policy was removed, and a drastic decline in diversity ensued. Edward Lempinen at UC Berkeley shows how this change adversely affected minority students when it was enacted three years later. “The measure deterred more than 1,000 underrepresented minority students per year from applying to any UC campus…”

A decline of this magnitude was disastrous for trying to maintain a diverse student body and its intrinsic benefits. This example highlights how an affirmative action policy can be beneficial because before the revocation, the University of California system had students from many backgrounds. After the change, the number of students who fostered diversity declined and left the university with less minority representation. The loss of so many students from different backgrounds undoubtedly, and unfortunately, reduced the variety of viewpoints in many classrooms. As the example shows, using affirmative action can be a positive decision unless it is exploited through the implementation of factors like exact quotas.

When schools use affirmative action improperly, such as a quota system, it can lead to the very conflict that is trying to be solved. Some schools have implemented a strict quota in their admissions review, but a quota is not an adequate solution. By using quotas, the school is inadvertently shunning and discriminating against some applicants from majority groups. The very issue of exact quotas was addressed and disapproved in a Supreme Court case many years ago. “...Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, ruling in which, on June 28, 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court declared affirmative action constitutional but invalidated the use of racial quotas…”.[2] The decision mentioned in the Bakke case underscores that the use of quotas is not an ethical decision. It would incidentally cause further discrimination and a never-ending cycle of biased decisions. Even though affirmative action raises concerns about potential misuse, the Supreme Court has shown that the program passes strict scrutiny and is therefore necessary.

The Supreme Court is often faced with divisive decisions that must be carefully analyzed; affirmative action has been in numerous cases that fit that description. In order to deal with such tremendous decisions, the Court uses the strict scrutiny standard. The strict scrutiny standard involves rigorous assessment of a proposed law or rule to determine if it is truly necessary for improving the lives of people. In the University of California case, the Supreme Court, with the use of strict scrutiny, ascertained that a balanced affirmative action plan was constitutional. The justices stated that there was no violation of the 14th Amendment or Civil Rights Act because minority status was not the only factor being used to admit students. The program also passed strict scrutiny because it was benefiting minority groups that were underrepresented, and there was not another viable way to do so, according to the court case. Based on multiple Supreme Court decisions allotting for racial criteria in admissions, it is evident that affirmative action is constitutionally sound. Including minority status in admission decisions does not go against the law, meaning schools can continue to use those criteria. Having programs like affirmative action increases the welfare of many citizens in ways that other programs cannot, which is why they should remain in place.

Because education can be improved by adding diversity to a student body, a well-rounded affirmative action plan should be used in admission decisions. There have always been certain minority groups that face difficulty when trying to attain a higher education, so they should receive equal representation and better chances to attend post-secondary school. While affirmative action does accomplish this task, it can be abused when schools go too far and require exact quotas for some minorities. Despite the problems posed by quotas, there is compelling evidence that affirmative action can be effective when used properly. By using affirmative action, educational facilities can create a diverse group of students with a variety of views and knowledge. The next world-changing invention, event, book, or anything else could come from a person of any background, so everyone needs to have equal access to a higher education that helps them reach their goals.

The author's comments:

This piece analyzes why affirmative action can be used in college admissions.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.