Affirmative Action Lowers College Admissions

By Lindsey Riback ‘14
Every system has its flaws, in college admissions it’s the selection process. Admissions counselors are supposed to make selections based on qualifications and potential, essentially who you are not what you are.
Affirmative action is defined by the Cornell University Law School as “a set of procedures designed to eliminate unlawful discrimination between applicants, remedy the results of such prior discrimination, and prevent such discrimination in the future.”
In short, universities are attempting to right society’s past wrongs, but what exactly does this process entail and how long will it last?
In 1977 Allan Bakke, a white male, challenged his admissions rejection from the University of California Medical School at Davis. The university had reserved 16 spots in their acceptance pool for minorities who they deemed were qualified. Bakke’s GPA and entrance exam scores exceeded those of the applicants, yet he was still denied admission. The court ruled in favor of affirmative action, but that specific quotas are unconstitutional.
The Higher/ Education Opportunity Program, H/EOP, serves as a loophole in affirmative action. Both programs provide full tuition to its participants, HEOP can be found within private New York State universities, while EOP is reserved for the SUNY system. H/EOP was created in 1967 by Assemblyman Arthur O. Eve and now exists in over 60 universities including Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, SUNY Albany and SUNY Binghamton. Seats in an entering class are reserved for students who do not fully meet the admissions requirements and also would not be able to afford the institution.
According to, “H/EOP gives students who have the ability for academic success, but not the requirements for regular admission, the chance to attend Cornell University. The programs allow students eight to ten semesters to successfully complete a degree.”
However, the use of H/EOP in private universities that are one hundred percent committed to meeting the financial needs of their students, such as Columbia University and Cornell University, is unnecessary. These universities are granting less-qualified applicants admission, when there are students who will go home to a rejection letter although they deserve to open an acceptance letter.
“In general, students in opportunity programs are individuals from families with low incomes, with high potential for successful collegiate experience but who have not acquired the verbal, mathematical, and other cognitive skills required for collegiate level work,” according to
This past April, the Supreme Court backed the state of Michigan’s decision to ban the use of affirmative action in higher education. Michigan, Florida, Texas, Washington and California are the only states with the ban.
“It may also encourage more states to enact measures banning the use of race in admissions or to consider race-neutral alternatives to ensure diversity,” according to Liptak, Adam. “Court Backs Michigan on Affirmative Action.” New York Times 22 April 2014. Print.
The support of the Supreme Court is a step in the right direction, putting a gradual stop to the country’s continuous attempt to make up for past injustices.
So when you eagerly open up your admissions decision(s), whether or not it is something to celebrate, remember that the schools that do accept you saw something in your application; compassion, independence, morals or maybe even humor, that made you stand out and recognizes that you have the ability to further diversify their student body, based on your personality, rather than their admissions statistics.

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