What is Affirmative Action and How Does it Affect Me?

When it comes to college applications one term that always lingers in the background is Affirmative Action. Although it is not something that anyone can control or part of the application anyone can manipulate it affects everyone no matter what. 

Affirmative action was first introduced by the Kennedy administration in Executive Order No. 10925 on the 6th of March 1961.  Since then, it has drastically changed the environment and future regarding the college application and acceptance process. At the time, every race and ethnicity was given equal consideration for acceptances, other than legacies. The concept was introduced with the hopes of increasing social mobility for those who came from disadvantaged minority groups in the country, such as African Americans and Hispanics. The move was all about extending equal opportunities to people of races the government felt were treated unfairly throughout history.  

Although the concept of Affirmative Action is great for helping minority groups within the country, it can serve as a disadvantage for another minority group — the Asian-American population.  A study was done at Princeton University regarding the effect of Affirmative Action on college acceptances based on race and ethnicity.  The study compared the average SAT score of accepted students from various race groups and it was found that African-Americans and Hispanics got in at a higher rate, and in fact received a noticeable bias at a rate higher than even legacies. However this all came at the expense of applicants of an Asian descent. Even though Affirmative Action was introduced as a great equalizer, from certain points of view it is doing more harm than good. 

Recently, there have been checks put into place due to a plethora of lawsuits against Affirmative Action, so previously mentioned bias is harder to come by in this day and age. However, it is important to know the different levels of the college application process. It is also important to acknowledge that there are factors other than academics that go into a college application that are out of the applicant’s control, and it is important to capitalize on all the aspects of your application that you can control like your scores and extracurriculars, because that is where you can truly stand out. 

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