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19 Affirmative Action in College Admissions Statistics

Affirmative Action was created so that minorities could have a fighting chance to pursue a life of happiness in the United States. More than just a chance to make up for past wrongs, Affirmative Action was designed to level the playing field of income, educational opportunities, and other differences that can affect how minorities get the chance to pursue their dreams.

In states that have eliminated Affirmative Action as part of the college admissions process, almost all of the colleges have seen large drops in minority enrollments that have not recovered.

College Admissions

Some of the data is quite remarkable. In California, for example, where nearly 50% of the population is Hispanic, only 11% of incoming freshmen are at some state colleges. For African Americans, the result is the same. Making up 9% of the total population, they make up just 2% of the incoming freshmen class. In all circumstances, the drop of enrollments of minorities without Affirmative Action is near or above 50%.

  • Only Florida and Washington have seen corresponding increases in the amount of minority enrollments when compared to rising population levels, although the incoming class is still 50% of the overall minority population percentage.
  • Reverse discrimination is often brought up when Affirmative Action is used for college admissions because the effects of this policy can result in a comparable increase of over 300 points in an SAT score.
  • Although Affirmative Action makes race a consideration for college admissions, two-thirds of Americans believe that the sole determination of entrance to higher levels of education is through merit.
  • The US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals throws out Michigan’s 2006 ban on affirmative action in college admissions and public hiring, declaring it unconstitutional.
  • In a six to two ruling, the Supreme Court upholds Michigan’s ban of using racial criteria in college admissions.

A merit based system seems like the best way to go… on paper. Merit is a great system to use when all things are equal. In the United States, however, all things are far from equal. More minorities live in poverty per capita than whites. More minorities live in places where educational opportunities are not as comprehensive or coherent as whites. This means a child from a minority family won’t have the same opportunities to succeed, on average, than their Caucasian counterparts. If everyone deserves the chance to find success, then minorities will always struggle to break the cycle of poverty. Like it or hate it, Affirmative Action in college admissions does level the playing field.

Who Believes Affirmative Action Should Exist?

  • 87% of Republicans believe that college admissions based solely on merit should be how incoming freshmen are accepted.
  • In comparison, just 53% of Democrats believe that applicants should be admitted solely on merit.
  • The level of education that someone receives is also likely to influence their viewpoint on Affirmative Action. Those with higher levels of education are more likely to support using this policy as a process of college admissions.
  • In general, however, 58% of Americans support some form of Affirmative Action programs for racial minorities. Even a majority of whites [51%] supports Affirmative Action, although the percentage is dramatically lower than African Americans [76%].
  • Even though Affirmative Action programs are supported, most Americans feel that it should be a privatized process rather than a governmental process of support, though a majority of minorities believe government should play a major role.
  • Support for government intervention in improving the role of social and economic positions of minorities has actually dwindled by more than 10% in some minority races since 2004.
  • Only 10% of minorities believe that government should play no role whatsoever in using Affirmative Action as a means of improving social or economic opportunities for them.

Even with the number of reverse discrimination cases that have been hitting the courts as of late, it is interesting to see that a majority of Americans in every single racial demographic support some sort of Affirmative Action program. It is in the details of this program where dissent and discord can be found. The idea of having the government actually help to influence how much money someone can make is pretty appalling to some, especially Caucasians. They believe a merit based system of accomplishment with a little push from the government is ok. A handout? Not so much.

Is Affirmative Action Fading From America?

  • Whites are more over-represented in the college population when compared to the overall population today than they were in 1995.
  • Just 15 years after racial preferences were dropped from the admissions process in California, the amount of in-state African American student applications to state universities dropped over 30% and over 40% for the Hispanic population.
  • The median income for whites in the United States is over $44,000 per household, but it is less than $30,000 for African American households.
  • The poverty rate for African Americans is nearly triple that of whites when the national population is taken as a whole.
  • In business opportunities, women and minorities are under-represented with almost every industry which contracts with the government.
  • College educated African American women make nearly $20,000 less per year than white men who have the exact same degree.
  • Despite setbacks, the overall college population from a minority perspective has increased in diversity by over 57%.

Although it seems like Affirmative Action programs might be on their way out, what seems to be changing is the blanket approval process when it comes to race more than anything else. People want some merit to be involved in the selection process from a majority perspective and it is easy to understand why. There are large wage gaps in every racial and gender demographic when they are compared to white men. Although a white male in the US might feel discriminated against, the fact remains that the average white man has more opportunities for success than anyone else – even with Affirmative Action in place. Because of that, Affirmative Action will likely never fade from America until real diversity can be achieved.

Affirmative Action Historical Initiatives

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