Should race still be a factor in college admissions?

The Future of Race and College Admissions

The use of race as a factor in college admissions appears unlikely to end entirely anytime soon, though how it will be used in the future is yet to be seen. Students, educators and others argue for various types of change through essays, research and legal challenges. Some believe affirmative action did its job and that it's time to eliminate it completely. Others say it's a work in progress and needs to be reshaped to fit the modern needs. Others argue it is still needed and should be used to its full degree to help any minorities that might need assistance.

President Barack Obama -- who has backed affirmative action but also shown some support for a system focusing on class rather than race -- weighed in during a campaign interview in 2007. "If we have done what needs to be done to ensure that kids who are qualified to go to college can afford it, then affirmative action becomes a diminishing tool for us to achieve racial equality in this society," he said [source: Robinson].

And affirmative action opponent Ward Connerly, a former member of the California Board of Regents who was a key figure in advancing the state's Proposition 209, has said, "Every individual should have the same opportunity to compete. I don't worry about the outcomes" [source: Lewin]. Connerly has also showed his support for similar movements in other states, such as Utah. As of early 2010, lawmakers there were working on a resolution to amend the state constitution to ban affirmative action in university admissions [source: McKitrick].

However, supporters of preference-based admissions are working to effect change, too. Also during early 2010, a group of students represented by a civil rights group launched a class-action lawsuit to get the affirmative action ban at California universities reversed [source: Lieff].

So, as for whether race should still be considered in college admissions, the nation's political and educational leaders vary in their opinions. It's clear public colleges and universities are facing changes in their admissions processes, but for now, the national judicial system has ruled that -- in most states -- race can be used as a factor.

Ultimately, the goal for the issue's proponents and opponents alike is for all college applicants to be treated equally and fairly with every qualified person being given a chance at higher education, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or economic status.

Read on to discover lots more information on college admissions and the factors considered in the decision process.

More to Explore