College admissions counselors from across the country gathered here last week for the National Association for College Admission Counseling’ annual conference, where the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down affirmative action—and the future of admissions without it—took center stage.
More than 7,000 people attended the gathering, making it the third-largest conference in the organization’s nearly 100-year history. They brought with them a palpable sense of solidarity and a shared appetite for solutions to complicated problems arising from the tidal wave of changes—including exactly how admissions officers might overcome the potentially devastating effects of this summer’s Supreme Court ruling.
Panels explored how to assess character and identity through admissions essays—a strategy that many colleges seemed to embrace in the immediate aftermath of the decision—as well as the legal dangers of using those essays to try to glean demographic information. Much discussion was devoted to the increasingly important role of race-neutral admissions practices, such as test-optional policies and contextual review to offset the lack of demographic data available to admissions offices. High school counselors in attendance fretted over how to adapt their student coaching for a post–affirmative action era, while college admissions officers participated in hands-on activities simulating the review process without affirmative action.
Discussion also centered on applicants’ socioeconomic status. More than a dozen sessions focused on equity-minded recruitment strategies, from targeting community college transfer students to redeploying resources to underserved ZIP codes.
“The Supreme Court decision did not change precedent on recruitment and outreach,” Eleanor Eckerson Peters, director of research and policy at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, told a ballroom of attendees. “Now is the time to rethink those strategies toward equity.”
Read the full article at Inside Higher Ed.