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Affirmative Action

Selective colleges and universities may consider a variety of nonacademic factors in their admissions policies. For example, admissions officers may weigh whether applicants are promising athletes or children of alumni. Even though admissions offices can evaluate any number of student characteristics or experiences, affirmative action typically refers to the consideration of an applicant’s self-reported ethnicity or race.

Affirmative action has been periodically challenged in state and federal courts in the United States, which has resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court limiting the ways that ethnicity or race may be considered, even as the Court has upheld the general practice. The policy, often referred to as “race-conscious admissions” in light of the legal restrictions the Court has imposed, is seen by many education and legal scholars as ...

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