Most likely, your college or university has had to scramble to adapt its current admissions strategy and huddle with lawyers to avoid any legal ramifications due to the fall of affirmative action this summer. A new report identifies how deeply institutional leaders were affected by the decision. Acuity Insights surveyed admissions teams’ deans, associate directors, committee members and more to gauge the impact of the ruling and how they adapted.
While nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) indicated the Supreme Court decision would have a significant or minor impact on student diversity, an equal amount said that the fall affirmative action had “little or no impact” on their mission, diversity goals, and outcomes.
Despite the firm resolve of institutions to maintain similar student diversity benchmarks, nearly half (45%) said they were concerned about the difficulty of recruiting and retaining a diverse student body. Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) didn’t even know how their school would adapt to the ruling, which Acuity Insights believes is a testament to the sharp legal ramifications schools are still trying to navigate.
Overall, 79% opposed the removal of affirmative action.
How schools are trying to adapt without affirmative action
Holistic admissions is the most prominent strategy institutions are turning to. Respondents who hail from states where affirmative action was already banned before the Supreme Court decision shed some promise on this practice.
Of the 51% of respondents from states where affirmative action was already banned, 70% reported using holistic admissions strategies to review their applicants. Of this cohort, more than half (54%) said they have experienced “great results” or partial success using this strategy.
Additionally, 15% use a score for socioeconomic diversity. For example, the socioeconomic disadvantage scale developed at the University of California Davis scores students based on a portfolio that measures grades, test scores, recommendations, essays and interviews—all while considering their life circumstances. The scale has helped turn U.C. Davis into one of the country’s most diverse medical schools despite the state’s affirmative action ban in 1996, The New York Times reports.
While leveraging personal statements and letters of recommendation more is one way institutions can help maintain a diverse student body, Acuity Insights cautions against their low reliability due to students who may decide to rely on artificial intelligence to write their materials. Some academic officials believe it’s time to overhaul written statements altogether.
“If you think about it from a student’s perspective, what’s their incentive for telling the truth? If they lie on their application, what happens when they get caught? The worst thing that happens is the thing that would have happened anyway: They won’t get in,” said David Rettinger, a psychology professor at Tulane University and president emeritus of the International Center for Academic Integrity.
Additionally, it may place more burden on admissions teams to review swaths or written materials.