Getting In: High schoolers consider college admissions after affirmative action ban

Due to the stress they witnessed among Jericho High School students applying to college, Willa Lefkowicz (left) and Farrah Park (right) were inspired to write about the role of affirmative action in the ever-changing admissions process.
Due to the stress they witnessed among Jericho High School students applying to college, Willa Lefkowicz (left) and Farrah Park (right) were inspired to write about the role of affirmative action in the ever-changing admissions process.

This article is one of the winning submissions from the New York Post Scholars Contest, presented by Command Education.

The Supreme Court recently issued a decision addressing affirmative action in college admissions stating that race can no longer be a factor in deciding who gets into an institution and who does not. High school seniors across the nation and here at Jericho had strong reactions to the court ruling. Many students of color see this decision as yet another setback in achieving academic success on an even playing field.

Jericho High School senior Jay P. is very concerned that following the court decision his college experience will be negatively impacted. He is looking forward to attending an institution where he will be among more students of his racial group. Now he fears the opposite will be true. He says, “If I were to go to a high level institution it’s likely that I’ll still see that lack of representation.”

Jay also believes that affirmative action was helpful in that the policy recognized that race still affects many aspects of life. “I think race and the role it plays in society and education is still a very important, very impactful thing. And to pretend it isn’t, it’s just blind,” he adds.

Jay feels strongly that striking down affirmative action in college admissions suggests the “idea that we’re in a post-racial world, when we’re not.”

Junior Samara B. feels that removing affirmative action downplays adversities that she’s faced due to her race. She feels strongly that she and other students of color benefit from affirmative action in college admissions because of discrimination already experienced. She says, “I should have been given the advantage as a minority.”

Junior Selena S. feels that she would have benefited from affirmative action in her application process and is disappointed about its removal. She would prefer to have a section in the application where she could directly verify her race and include this among her many other qualifications. She says, “It will definitely affect my admission process because as a Black American myself, I would like to use that.”

Senior Ajani S. worries that many minority students will feel discouraged to apply to colleges without affirmative action. “I prefer that it [affirmative action] be kept because taking it out would reduce the amount of applicants that would apply to higher educational programs,” he says.

Jericho’s Curriculum Associate for School Counseling Mr. Greg Sloan feels that colleges are already taking initiative to promote inclusivity despite the ruling. He says, “Some institutions such as Duke University and University of North Carolina have already taken steps to promote educational equity by offering free tuition to students from families with income below a certain threshold.”

Jericho High School Guidance counselor Ms. Grebstein is confident that universities will find alternative ways to maintain diverse classes. She says, “They want to be able to still get that information in an authentic way rather than checking off boxes.”

The University of Virginia’s new supplemental question for the 2023-2024 college admissions process gives applicants the opportunity to mention race as a factor if they so desire.

However, Hofstra University Constitutional Law Professor Mr. Eric Freedman thinks that affirmative action being struck down will discourage universities from considering diversity during the admissions process in fear of accusations that colleges are going against the Supreme Court decision. He says, “My prediction is that the practical impact is mostly going to be achieved, if at all, by a bunch of high visibility lawsuits that terrify the admissions officers into not exercising their creativity.”

Further, Professor Freedman believes that “threatened university administrators” will fear that they’re “going to lose all of their federal funds,” if they do decide to take cultural backgrounds into account during admissions.

Some Jericho students believe that affirmative action being struck down won’t affect their admissions process at all. Senior Samantha D. says, “I’m Latina, but I think it could give me more of a chance so they can look past my ethnicity and more so on my academics, my extracurriculars and just more of me as a person, just not that I’m Hispanic.”

“I think you have more of a chance to be admitted or just to be looked at a holistic level, rather than just where you come from, or your ethnicity or gender,” she says.

Senior Brandon K., who is not a member of a racial minority group, thinks that this court decision could help his chances of acceptance. He says, “I would say I have a strong application. I think I’ve done really well with school and I’ve done stuff to make sure I’ve done activities to make a difference in this community.”

At the time of this article’s publication, senior Ajani S. decided to commit to Florida A&M because he wants to attend a college where he would not be a minority. He says, “I have always been around people who don’t look like me and don’t relate in the same ways, so I wanted to go to a school where I didn’t feel like an outlier.”

Senior Jay P. was accepted early decision to Yale University. He is a bit nervous that he will remain a minority in his Yale classes. However, he says, “My family members have been assuring me that colleges are larger, so even if the percentage of Black people attending is low, there’s enough people quantity-wise that I will be able to find my own groups in a way I couldn’t have in high school.”

An 11th grader at Jericho High School in Jericho, NY, Lefkowicz hopes to be a cosmetic dentist to the stars. 

An 11th-grader at Jericho High School, Park aspires to be a dermatologist.