May 31, 2023
WASHINGTON (AP) — As an alternative to affirmative action, colleges from California to Florida have tried a range of strategies to achieve the diversity they say is essential to their campuses. Many have given greater preference to low-income families. Others started admitting top students from every community in their state.
But after years of experimentation — often prompted by state-level bans on considering race in admissions — there’s no clear solution. In states requiring race-neutral policies, many colleges have seen enrollment drops among Black and Hispanic students, especially at selective colleges that historically have been mostly white.
Now, as the Supreme Court decides the fate of affirmative action, colleges nationwide could soon face the same test, with some bracing for setbacks that could erase decades of progress on campus diversity. A ruling is expected by the end of June.
At Amherst College, officials have estimated that going entirely race-neutral would reduce Black, Hispanic and Indigenous populations by half.
“We fully expect it would be a significant decrease in our population,” said Matthew McGann, Amherst’s director of admission.
Facing a conservative Supreme Court that appeared skeptical from the start, colleges have been preparing for a rollback. Some are considering adding more essays to get a better picture of an applicant’s background. Others are planning to boost recruiting in racially diverse areas, or admit more transfer students from community colleges.