Breaking Barriers

Lily Brown



Colleges and universities couldn’t possibly accept every student that applies each year. They must consider various factors when determining which applicants

will be the best fit for their institution. These colleges and universities look at

many aspects of each applicant. These may include the student’s grades, transcripts, involvement in extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation. However, one may find it shocking to know that race often plays a huge role in these decisions. Affirmative action is an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women to promote the rights or progress of disadvantaged persons. Colleges should retain affirmative action to make up for past discrimination and prevent minorities from further exclusion from academic opportunities.

There are many benefits to retaining affirmative action in colleges. Affirmative action will help to eliminate discrimination. According to the article, “Should Colleges Use Affirmative Action?”, There is great motivation to retain this very relevant practice. According to this article, “Even today, Black and Latino students are less likely than white students to have family members who went to college.” This creates a conflict as one's exposure to higher education within their families directly corresponds with their own academic path. Discrimination clearly plays a factor in college admission rates. This article also reveals that “At UC Berkeley, the number of Black students admitted dropped from 562 to 191 after the school stopped using race as one aspect of admissions decisions.” This is an explicit example of how without affirmative action, colleges would be less diverse, and minorities would be at a disadvantage.

There are many reasons to support affirmative action in college admissions.

According to article #4, “Students of color, especially black and Latinx students, are more underrepresented at selective universities today than they were 35 years ago. In fact, a black student enrollment disparity exists at 45 of the 50 flagship state universities, meaning that the percentage of undergraduates who are black is lower than the percentage of high school graduates in the state who are black.” This proves that even though society has evolved, there is still a need for

affirmative action to promote equity and equality in education. Throughout history,

students of color have had less opportunity, fewer resources, and increased barriers, preventing educational advancement. In addition, article #4 states,

“Race-conscious admissions practices, such as affirmative action, attempt to

remedy these inequities by encouraging colleges to take a closer look at some of

the nontraditional factors that could make a student successful; factors often

overlooked in traditional admissions criteria.” Affirmative action relieves many of

these issues and provides for equal opportunities.

There have been opponents to affirmative action who claim it isn’t beneficial. For example, article #5 states that “In an attempt to bring more equality and equal opportunity to under-represented groups, affirmative action treats those groups differently, which isn’t technically ‘equal’.” This article even mentions that in 2014, “The Supreme Court upheld the state of Michigan’s constitutional amendment that prohibited universities from having race-conscious admissions.” However, affirmative action is alive and well and continues to promote equality in admissions. As seen in article #4, “For decades, elite colleges and universities closed their doors to students of color. As a result, students of color remain vastly underrepresented at the country’s top-tier institutions. Affirmative action combats the effects of this discrimination by allowing colleges and universities to be more intentional in the ways they evaluate applicants.”

In conclusion, colleges should retain affirmative action to make up for past

discrimination and prevent minorities from further exclusion from academic

opportunities. Others may argue that affirmative action is not technically “equal”. However, affirmative action is necessary as it combats systemic disadvantages and promotes equality in higher education for applicants of all races.