Affirmative Action is Down, What Comes Next?

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Entrance of the US Supreme Court (Image Credit: Politico)

According to research from Princeton University, students with an Asian background must score 140 points higher on the SAT than white students and 450 points higher than black students to have the same chance of admission. For decades, critics have argued this goes against the fundamental belief in meritocracy which America has thrived upon, resulting in them becoming the strongest global superpower. Now, the Supreme Court has struck it down.

By ending affirmative action, many argue the US has taken a big step toward committing to a system that prioritizes merit and talent. One huge advantage of this change will be in the form of an increased number of highly skilled individuals being drawn to the US because they will perceive their chances of success as being increased. This influx of talented people will significantly contribute to the country’s development and progress across many fields and will certainly help reach the country’s large aspirations. With a system that encourages excellence and fosters greatness, there is no doubt that the notion of the American dream will be furthered: the American dream represents the pursuit of success, happiness, and a better life through hard work, determination, and meritocracy. The concept of affirmative action dismisses these ideals and instead prioritizes telling students that their race matters more than their merit, this is a divisive and destructive message and the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled against it is a huge win for protecting the American dream.

Although well-intended, affirmative action may unintentionally encourage a perception of tokenism in which people from minority groups are seen as “filling quotas.” This idea contradicts the idea of equal opportunity and may cause animosity among students and the general public. Ending affirmative action establishes a system where people are evaluated based on their ability – this is because the change eliminates preconceived beliefs about the talents of various racial or ethnic groups and enables people to compete based on their own merits. Society becomes more inclusive and diversified, strengthening a sense of social cohesiveness and unity by establishing an atmosphere where everyone has an equal chance to achieve. On top of this, a huge issue with affirmative action is the effect that it has on students apart of minority groups – many students in prestigious institutions feel insecure in their university because they feel that it is likely that they were admitted because of the color of their skin as opposed to their educational prowess, this feeling of self-doubt is something no student should experience however affirmative action promotes these feelings in candidates which is another reason why it is a good thing that it has been abolished. 

If colleges in the United States choose to adhere to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the key transformation would be that students will now be more likely to enroll in institutions based on their academic qualifications. As an illustration, the previous practice of employing racial preferences resulted in black students gaining admission to institutions despite having significantly lower academic credentials compared to their non-preferred peers. For instance, even with a total SAT score of 1,100, they would secure a spot in institutions where the average SAT score stood at 1,400. In the notable case of Harvard admissions in 2013, it was discovered that if Harvard admissions exclusively considered academic credentials for admissions, less than 1% of their undergraduate student population would comprise black students, in contrast to the existing 10% representation at that time. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that this 10% figure has since increased to 14%, even though there has been no corresponding nationwide improvement in the test scores of black students.

The underrepresentation of black students at prestigious institutions like Harvard, with less than 1% based on academic credentials alone, highlights a disconcerting problem with education in the United States: Racism. However, the solution does not lie in admitting students solely based on their race, as this would fail to address the underlying problems within the American education system. Affirmative action, although well-intentioned, does not provide equal opportunities for individuals who face socio-economic disadvantages it merely masks the existence of these inequalities. It is important to acknowledge that minority students who have faced impoverished upbringings and inadequate education may struggle to thrive in elite institutions like Harvard, despite exceptions to the rule. Instead of simply granting Ivy League offers to underprepared candidates, universities should allocate admissions based on the merit and qualifications of applicants. Concurrently, the government should prioritize addressing the systemic issues plaguing the education system, ensuring that all students have access to quality education. By addressing these challenges and fostering an environment of equal opportunity, students can aspire to attend prestigious universities based on their hard work and merit, rather than through a system that disregards qualified candidates and admits unqualified ones, thereby effectively masking the shortcomings of the education system.

Written by Vincent Kikano

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