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The Supreme Court Ruling: An Opportunity for a Truly Holistic Admissions Process?

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Sunnyside Gardens

The Supreme Court delivered a landmark ruling this week which struck down affirmative action programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, effectively eliminating race as a key factor in the admissions process. As a college counselor and woman of color, I have many thoughts about this ruling. Candidly, I’m torn.

It may be helpful to begin by exploring the premise of affirmative action. Since 1969, through both voluntary practices and government policies, higher education has worked to “build classes” that mirror the world, particularly as it pertains to race, bringing opportunities to historically marginalized populations. The premise is sound: there is a benefit for all to having students connect with others that don’t look and think like they do. This connection and interchange leads to teaching moments that create a well-rounded, globally-minded individual.

On many levels, affirmative action accomplished its aim: It brought diversity – particularly racial diversity – onto college campuses across the country, particularly within more selective college environments, where admissions offices sought to level the playing field in terms of access to higher education.

So where’s the opportunity? The word “diversity” is no longer restricted to race as it was in the 1970’s. Diversity now includes gender, age, sexuality, and socioeconomic realities. The University of Pennsylvania describes diversity in terms of “lived experiences“, and I think that’s apt. It would be narrow-minded of us to consider diversity in terms of race alone. While on the surface the Supreme Court ruling may seem like bad news to many, I am hopeful that it offers us the opportunity to consider diversity on a much broader, more inclusive level.

Practically, I don’t think this will change very much about the college admissions process. There are so many factors an admissions office considers when evaluating applicants which extend far beyond race. Schools will still need elite athletes. Another school may need an oboe player to fill a chair. Colleges might need 50 more students who want to be humanities majors to round out their department. For those who have belabored race’s role in the admissions process as a result of affirmative action: colleges are often recruiting to fill a need, which is why the highest academically performing student doesn’t always get accepted.

My advice is for students to work toward a school that will propel them to be the best version of themselves, and that can happen anywhere, whether it’s Merrimack College or Harvard University. We need to avoid getting caught up in the brand value of a particular college’s name. There are tremendously successful people everywhere. How many amazing business leaders, politicians and scholars have graduated from the University of Maryland, Ohio State or from Indiana University? Where you go does not define you. Where you go might offer you a nice network, but my best advice in finding a good college fit is to consider what’s best for each individual student.

On a personal level, my thoughts about the benefits of affirmative action are simple: I want my children to connect with students from all over the world. I want them to be exposed to those from every socioeconomic strata, and from every race, culture, gender and sexual orientation possible. Why? Because I want them to understand what the world looks like so they are better prepared to navigate life. It makes me sad to think that historically marginalized populations feel that access to a level playing field has been lost. 

How can we make lemonade out of lemons, so to speak? Instead of seeing this ruling as a victory or loss, let us try to figure out a solution that will make the world, learning communities and future working communities as open, impactful and educational as we can, by finding the right schools for our kids. We need to build a new structure on which to continue to celebrate different lived experiences, whether historically marginalized or not, and continue working toward ensuring that a celebration of diversity and opportunity through a truly holistic admissions process remains a goal for us and for future generations.

Christine Chapman is the founder of Chapman Education, based in Hopkinton. Since 1995, she has guided more than 3,000 students and families through the private school and college admissions processes. She works closely with students and their families to help them secure the best educational fit.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. This kind of looks like an ad for Chapman Education. Although we all have a opinion on this subject, is this really the right place for that? I thought this was a place for light hearted stories about our town.
    (Hopnews) But, this has tuned to a place of drama and poking the bear stories.

    • This is an opinion piece. Of course it’s the right place. This is a news outlet. We all do better when we are challenged and asked to think about things another way.

      And in regards to the bear…sometimes the bear needs to be poked out of its cave so the bear stops hurting people and damaging our town

      I’m grateful for HopNews and their continued efforts to bring forth more than “fluff” and “lighthearted” pieces.

      • “This is an opinion piece. Of course it’s the right place.” Its my opinion that it’s not the right place!

  2. “Thinking”
    I can rationalize Affirmative Action years ago, but in todays times are you not a Master Of Your Own Destiny?

    Did not as a Nation did we not Spend Trillions of Dollars on LBJ/JFK “Great Society”? ‘To Lift All Boats’?
    Where did all that Taxpayer Money go? May there ever be a Forensic Audit? Who or What really received the Money? How much really went to it’s main Goal?

    We should be very careful not to replace Merit with Race? Or does the person ‘Check The Boxes’ instead of Qualifications? In essence may you go to a ‘Brain Surgeon’ or ‘Fly on Plane’, if their qualifications were they checked the Boxes?

  3. Bad take and obviously not written by a lawyer. Ms. Chapman seems to forget that her own services are indeed a privilege. One most Americans and in-fact most Hopkinton high schoolers could not comfortably afford. And yeah she 100% paid to have this posted. I urge the editor to not fall down the yellow journalism hole and remember why real news is so important. Especially when many readers already carry pitchforks while browsing this site.

    • Hello! My name is Celia Chapman and Christine Chapman is my mother. This article is clearly not written by a lawyer because my mom is not a lawyer… she is a college counselor. In no way does she forget that her services are a privilege. In the past few years, I have been able to watch her build a non-profit organization aiming to make her services more accessible. The College Axis Project has had the opportunity to provide scholarships to an increasing number of students. Perhaps you could look into the services people provide before you leave a nasty comment about them online. My mother is well aware that her services are not accessible to all, and I am so proud of her for all that she has done to promote equity within the college admissions landscape. If you consider this article to be a “bad take” I would love to hear your own take on the matter.

  4. Firstly, let me begin by stating that I am perfectly aware that my services are a great privilege. As a matter of fact that is why I founded The College Axis Project in 2021. It was my response to my own need to do something about the fact that there are so many who do not have access to the kinds of services I provide to my full pay clients. I understand the fact you underscore only too well, having been a single mom trying to provide a life for them in Hopkinton and in no way has that experience been comfortable.
    To respond to others about the relevance of an opinion piece, this piece was meant to be an opportunity to find opportunities to be positive and move beyond condemning a decision and harping in negativity and moving forward with hope in the potential of our communities and institutions of higher education to provide a broader definition of lived experiences that ultimately may benefit future generations of students.
    As for the comment about this being a piece that is an “advertisement for Chapman Education:” I see any opportunity to share thoughts about relevant topics in education as an opportunity to share what I know and to initiate discussions. If that is interpreted as an advertisement….so be it. Glad to be able to share thoughts and my own understanding of the issues…I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

  5. If that was your intent you could have simply signed your name at the end. Not sure if it was you or the editor that added the link to your website. I wasn’t trying to be nasty just stating it looked like an ad.

    • Thank you for your comment. As is customary with all guest posts, the Editor includes a short bio of each author to provide our readers with context and background on who the author is.

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