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Navigating the End of Affirmative Action: What the Recent Ruling Means for Your College Applications

Applying to college is an exciting experience, but as a student of color, recent developments in affirmative action policies have raised concerns and uncertainties about how your racial or ethnic background may impact your college application. In this blog, we’ll discuss what the recent ruling on affirmative action means for you as a student of color and highlight the resources and support offered by Uprooted Academy to help you navigate the college application process successfully.

1. Understanding Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is a policy aimed at promoting diversity and equal opportunities in education and employment. It recognizes that historical and systemic inequities have created disadvantages for marginalized communities, including students of color. Affirmative action seeks to address these disparities by considering an applicant's racial or ethnic background as one factor among many in the admissions process. However, on June 29, the Supreme Court ruled that the consideration of race in college admission is unconstitutional, effectively banning affirmative action in higher education.

2. Understanding the Supreme Court Ruling: How it Impacts You

The recent Supreme Court ruling means that colleges and universities can no longer consider race as a direct factor in admissions decisions. However, here's the good news: the Court also ruled that colleges and universities may consider in admissions decisions “an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”

The Court further wrote that: “A benefit to a student who overcame racial discrimination, for example, must be tied to that student’s courage and determination. Or a benefit to a student whose heritage or culture motivated him or her to assume a leadership role or attain a particular goal must be tied to that student’s unique ability to contribute to the university. In other words, the student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual — not on the basis of race.”

In other words, despite the limitations imposed by this ruling, students can still highlight the impact of their racial or ethnic background through other components of their application, such as essays and extracurricular activities.

3. What It Means for Your College Application

Your Personal Statement:

Your personal statement is a powerful tool to demonstrate who you are beyond grades and test scores. If your racial or ethnic background is a critical aspect of your story, consider spotlighting it and sharing how it has shaped you as a person and your view of the world. Remember, your essay should go beyond simply discussing your racial identity. Instead, focus on how your background has influenced your passions, goals, and personal development. Be genuine, avoid clichés, and let your individuality shine through.

It's important to remember that your college essay should reflect your true self. If you don't feel comfortable writing about your racial or ethnic background, you absolutely don't have to. Instead, select a topic that inspires you, that has shaped you, or that stands out to you for any other reason. Ultimately, it's your genuine and authentic voice that will make your essay memorable and distinct.

Supplemental Essays:

In supplemental essays, you have more flexibility to discuss your racial or ethnic background explicitly, as long as it aligns with the prompts and stays true to your authentic experiences. Here are some ways to consider addressing race in your supplemental essays:

  • Contextualize your background: If a supplemental essay prompt allows you to discuss your identity or background, take the opportunity to provide context and share how your racial or ethnic heritage has influenced your perspective and experiences. Reflect on specific moments or challenges that have shaped your identity and discuss how they have impacted your personal growth, values, or aspirations. For example, if you come from an immigrant family, you could discuss the challenges your parents faced and the resilience they instilled in you.

  • Discuss community involvement: If the prompt asks about your contributions to the community or how you have made an impact, consider highlighting initiatives that address racial or social justice issues. Discuss the positive change you have sought to bring to your community through these efforts. For instance, you could talk about your work with local organizations to address educational disparities among underrepresented groups or your involvement in mentoring programs that support students from marginalized backgrounds.

  • Articulate your goals and aspirations: When discussing your future goals or career aspirations, you can explicitly tie them to addressing social inequalities or advancing diversity and inclusion. Explain how your background has influenced your passions and motivated you to pursue specific fields or paths that aim to address disparities. For example, if you aspire to pursue a career in healthcare, you could share how your own experiences and observations have driven your commitment to improving access to quality healthcare for underprivileged populations.

Activities List:

When describing your involvement in activities, clubs, or organizations, you can highlight any experiences directly related to your racial or ethnic identity. This can include participation in cultural clubs or advocacy groups that promote and celebrate your specific background. Additionally, if you have engaged in initiatives that address social or racial justice issues, highlight your contributions and leadership roles in such endeavors.

Letters of Recommendation:

While recommenders should not solely focus on your racial or ethnic background, they can still include meaningful references that implicitly acknowledge the impact of your identity. You may want to ask your recommenders to highlight instances where your background has influenced your character, perspective, and personal growth. They can discuss how your experiences have shaped your resilience, empathy, or cultural competency, without solely attributing it to your racial or ethnic identity. For example, a teacher might discuss how your background has fostered a unique perspective that enriches class discussions and inspires your peers. They can highlight your ability to bridge diverse perspectives, contributing to a more inclusive and supportive learning environment. By subtly addressing the role your background plays in shaping your character, your recommenders can still provide valuable insights without solely relying on explicit mentions of race.

4. Seeking Guidance and Support: Utilizing Available Resources

Throughout the college application process, don't hesitate to seek guidance and support to navigate any uncertainties arising from the recent ruling. At Uprooted Academy we’re dedicated to empowering first-generation, low-income students of color through the college application process. We believe that every student deserves the opportunity to attend the college of their dreams, regardless of their background. It's our mission to help you achieve that goal, because access without support is not true opportunity.

Our app, CollegeAPPs, gives you 24/7 access to our College Advising Video Curriculum, ensuring that you receive the support you need to succeed when you need it. CollegeAPPs offers a comprehensive, step-by-step approach to help you navigate the complexities of the college application process. From choosing the right schools to crafting compelling essays, our program will provide you with the tools and resources you need to apply to college with confidence and success.

We also offer other valuable resources such as free workshops and webinars that can assist you in your application journey, virtual college fairs on September 9, 2023 and April 13, 2024 (register here), informative blogs, major and career videos and more!

Lastly, it's important to remember that colleges and universities greatly value and eagerly seek students like you to join their campuses. Admission offices nationwide are fully committed to fostering diversity and cultivating an inclusive environment, and they continue to actively enroll students who can bring diverse perspectives and experiences to campus. Your presence and participation matter, and you belong in higher education.

As you embark on this exciting journey, know that we at Uprooted Academy are here to support you every step of the way. We believe in your abilities and are committed to helping you achieve your college goals. Enroll in our FREE Step-by-Step College Advising Video Course, and let's figure this out together! Access it on:



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