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Pros and cons of affirmative action in college admissions?

I've heard a lot of different opinions on affirmative action in college admissions. Can anyone explain the pros and cons of this policy? I'd like to better understand how this could potentially impact the college application process for students like me.

7 months ago

There's been much debate about affirmative action in college admissions, and understanding the pros and cons is important. Note that in June 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the use of affirmative action in college admissions. Find out more about the effects of this ruling here: https://blog.collegevine.com/end-of-affirmative-action

As for pros and cons of the policy, here's a brief overview:


1. Increased diversity: Affirmative action policies aim to increase the representation of traditionally underrepresented groups, leading to more diverse institutions. A diverse student body can foster a broader range of ideas, opinions, and experiences, enriching the overall educational experience for everyone.

2. Reducing educational gaps: Affirmative action can help historically disadvantaged students gain access to higher education and better opportunities. This can help address income disparities, achievement gaps, and social inequalities.

3. Reducing stereotype threats: By including underrepresented populations, affirmative action can challenge stereotypes and foster increased understanding between different groups of students.

4. Compensating for historical injustices: Affirmative action can be seen as addressing longstanding discrimination and promoting greater equality by offering educational opportunities to groups that have been systematically excluded in the past.


1. Perceived reverse discrimination: Some students may feel that affirmative action may discriminate against applicants from majority backgrounds, especially in cases where they believe they may have stronger qualifications.

2. Stigmatization: Affirmative action may unintentionally lead to underrepresented students being seen as "less capable" or being admitted solely due to their race or ethnicity, even if that's not the case. This perception can negatively impact their college experience.

3. Ignoring socioeconomic factors: Admissions policies based on race, ethnicity, or other group characteristics may not fully address socioeconomic disparities across all applicants. There are economically underprivileged students who do not fit the targeted categories for affirmative action but still need support.

4. Tokenism: In some cases, institutions may try to meet quotas and could not provide appropriate resources to support the diverse student body they are recruiting. This could lead to a lack of meaningful inclusion and integration.

The impact of affirmative action on individual students varies; while it may provide more opportunities for historically underrepresented groups, it could also create a sense of unfairness for those not directly benefiting from these policies. As the debate continues and policies evolve, college applicants should strive to present their best selves in their applications and focus on the parts they have control over.

7 months ago

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