Oct 23, 2023 - Education

New college admissions guidance for Massachusetts in post-affirmative action landscape

A young man and woman walking through a door at Harvard next to a sign saying Office of Admissions and Financial Aid

Photo by Glen Cooper/Getty Images

Massachusetts issued guidance today to help colleges and K-12 school leaders pursue racial diversity without affirmative action.

Why it matters: Colleges in the state are entering their first admissions season since the Supreme Court struck down race-based admissions.

Driving the news: Colleges may factor in an applicant's life experiences, including how race-related experiences helped shape their lives, according to the new guidance — just like the federal guidance recommends.

  • And the state is encouraging K-12 officials to continue targeting underserved communities in their districts to make sure all students get access to enrichment programs, coursework, counseling and other resources.
  • The guidance also says K-12 school staff should harness state resources such as Early College programs, Advanced Placement classes and a multiyear student planning tool.

The big picture: After the SCOTUS ruling, state and federal officials said they worried Black and Latino students would become shut out of higher education.

  • Even efforts to end legacy preferences in admissions won't change "that there are Black and brown kids that now with this affirmative action decision are going to feel like they're not wanted," U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told Axios in July.

Flashback: Nine states banned affirmative action before the ruling, the earliest being California in 1996.

  • The share of Black and Latino students at California colleges plummeted afterward for years. Many California schools are still struggling to build racially diverse student bodies.

State of play: Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey and Attorney General Andrea Campbell introduced the state's new recommendations during a statewide education meeting at UMass Boston.

Editor's note: This is a breaking story and may be updated.


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