How to Fix College Admissions Now
Professor Roland Fryer, a Paulson Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, shared his ideas with the New York Times about how higher education should move forward after the Supreme Court’s recent ruling striking down affirmative action. His contribution appears under the headline "Build Feeder Schools (and Make Yale and Harvard Fund Them)."
In the months leading up to last week’s Supreme Court rulings, multiple news reports have given us a sense of how selective schools are planning to respond to its widely anticipated decision to end affirmative action: in part, by watering down their admissions standards, through policies like reducing or eliminating the role of standardized tests. If there aren’t enough Black and Hispanic applicants who can perform at the level a college would normally require, the thinking goes, then schools should drop some key measures of performance in order to admit those students anyway.
But this is precisely backward. Instead of making the admissions process shallow, elite colleges should deepen the applicant pool. The simplest, most direct way to do that is for these schools to found and fund schools that educate disadvantaged students.
Right now, colleges take the supply of qualified minority students as fixed. They might run a summer enrichment program for local kids, but they don’t intervene in students’ education in systemic ways. They don’t teach the higher-order skills that students need to get into college. They don’t cultivate the grit and resilience that kids need to navigate a challenging curriculum after they are admitted. They rely on existing schools to do that — and if those schools routinely fail minority students, well, that’s a problem with the precollege pipeline.
Roland G. Fryer, Jr., a John A. Paulson Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is professor of economics at Harvard University and founder of Equal Opportunity Ventures.
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