being able to consider race or ethnicity as one factor in their admission decisions
A new poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 63% of adults believe that the Supreme Court should not prohibit colleges from considering race or ethnicity as one factor in their admission decisions, but most also believe it should not be treated as a major factor.
That finding comes as the nation awaits a Court decision on two lawsuits challenging race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. Many college leaders are expecting the Courts conservative majority to use those cases to prohibit or substantially scale back affirmative action in college admissions.
The nationwide online and telephone poll was conducted May 11-15, 2023 using the AmeriSpeak Panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Interviews were conducted with 1,680 adults, resulting in a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points. Respondents were surveyed on a range of issues, not just college admissions.
Support for the limited use of race as an admission factor was surprisingly consistent across political and racial lines. A majority of both Democrats (65%) and Republicans (60%) favored allowing applicants race to be considered. Likewise, there was no significant difference based on race or ethnicity. Sixty-two percent of white adults, along with 62% of Black adults and 65% of Hispanic adults said consideration of race and ethnicity should be permitted by colleges.
There were, however, differences in how much consideration people thought race/ethnicity should be given in college admissions with Blacks, Hispanics and Democrats more likely to say they should be important.
Obsessed With Going To An Elite College Read The Golden Ticket First
While most people believe that considerations of race and ethnicity should be allowed as an admission factor, they do not place them among what they view as the most important criteria in college admissions decisions. About two thirds of adults (62%) said high school grades should be either extremely or very important in those decisions, and just under half (47%) said the same for standardized test scores. About a third (34%) said that ability to afford tuition should be an extremely/very important admission factor.
When asked about the importance of several other admission factors, respondents assigned relatively low priority to race/ethnicity (only 13% said it should be extremely or very important), donations to the school (10% said the same), athletic ability (9%), gender (9%), and legacy status (9%). Overall, 68% of adults said race and ethnicity should not be a significant factor.
In addition to offering some support for current higher education affirmative action policies, the survey suggests that Americans views about college admissions reflect a couple of other recent trends in college policies and practices. The move away from reliance on standardized test scores appears to be consistent with the finding that fewer than half of respondents thought such test scores should be an extremely/very important admission factor, considerably lower than the importance they would assign to high school grades. Likewise, decisions by schools to end giving admission preferences to legacy students (the children of alumni) are also likely to be endorsed by most adults.
Related to the Supreme Court, which will soon weigh in on affirmative action in college admissions, the survey revealed a remarkably low level of public support. Americans confidence in the Court has steadily declined since 2016, reaching an all-time low in this survey. Only 12% of adults (22% of Republicans and 7% of Democrats) now express a great deal of confidence in the Supreme Court, down from 28% in February 2020.
Follow me on