A Dream Undone?

Higher Education Access and Opportunity in a Shifting Legal Landscape

The American Council on Education’s Center for Policy Research and Strategy – in partnership with the Civil Rights Project at UCLA and Center for College & Career Success in Pearson’s Research and Innovation Network, and with support from the National Association for College Admission Counseling, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions OfficersCollege Board, and EducationCounsel – has embarked on a groundbreaking study to examine how legal challenges to race-conscious admissions are influencing contemporary admissions practices at selective colleges and universities.

The project’s first phase is a survey study of admissions and enrollment management leaders at four-year nonprofit, non-open-access institutions from around the country. The report, Race, Class, and College Access: Achieving Diversity in a Shifting Legal Landscape, examines:

    1. How statewide legislation and U.S. Supreme Court rulings have influenced student outreach, recruitment and admissions decisions at selective American colleges and universities, and how and to what effect institutions are using race-conscious and race-neutral strategies to ensure student diversity.
    2. How the research, policy, and legal communities can assist institutions in navigating an environment where the only constant seems to be change.

To this end, we catalogue innovative strategies and leading practices implemented by institutions that have the ability to consider race in the admissions process, as well as those that have adapted to or have always used exclusively race-neutral admissions practices.

The research provides a confidential avenue by which admissions and enrollment management leaders share practices and challenges as they work to enable and support access and campus diversity.

For questions or comments about this project, please contact us at admissionssurvey@acenet.edu.

Findings from the report were released on July 21, 2015 at a convening held at the American Council on Education in Washington, DC. The event featured both the release of the report’s key findings and a series of conversations with experts on ensuring diversity in higher education. Watch videos of the report release event here.

Also in July 2015, the American Council on Education hosted, in partnership with Hobsons, a small convening of admissions and enrollment management leaders to discuss college access and success for underrepresented minority and low-income students. What emerged was a rich and robust discussion on the challenges, successes, and promising practices that will allow education professionals to meet mission-critical diversity goals and advance equity in postsecondary education. Access the white paper at Hobsons.com that provides a detailed summary of the convening and its major takeaways (sign-in required).