No good substitute for race in college admissions

Jun 13, 2013

As the U.S. Supreme Court decides in a case involving racial preferences in higher education admissions (Fisher v. Texas), new University of Maryland-led research finds that socioeconomic diversity is no replacement for a direct consideration of race, as some have suggested. Still the research finds that a mix of students from differing socio-economic backgrounds has benefits.

The peer-reviewed study appears in the June issue of the American Educational Research Journal. It evaluates the use of "socio-economic status" as a racially blind way to build an effective diverse atmosphere on campus. Lead author Julie J. Park, an assistant professor of education at the University of Maryland (UMD), says socio-economic status is often suggested as a back-door way to achieve , but one that likely won't succeed on its own.

"You need both racial and socioeconomic diversity to achieve the rich engagement that educators are looking for," says UMD's Park. "A broader mix of students helps encourage more fluid interactions."

The research finds that socio-economic (class) diversity helps students cross to interact and learn from each other. "In university settings, it helps put students of different racial and on a more level playing field," Park explains. "But on its own, socioeconomic diversity does not produce a high level of interactions between students of different races; you still need to reach a university's full potential."

The study is the latest in Park's research, which focuses on diversity in . She has a new book coming out later this month, "When Diversity Drops: Race, Religion, and Affirmative Action in Higher Education." It examines the impact in California of Proposition 209, which banned affirmative action statewide.

"Social class and race not only affect who goes to college, but what actually happens to once they begin the journey of learning together," Park says. "Class matters, not only because we need to broaden access to universities, but because of how it makes universities better equipped to support racial diversity."

Explore further: Local homicide rate increases cause more elementary students to fail school

More information: aer.sagepub.com/content/50/3/466.full.pdf+html?ijkey=l.HYakUkuxz16&keytype=ref&siteid=spaer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Impact of affirmative action bans in graduate fields of study

Jan 24, 2013

Important findings on the impact of banning affirmative action in higher education were just published in the American Educational Research Journal (AERJ) in Online First. Affirmative action in university admissions has long been ...

The ever-expanding definition of 'diversity'

Feb 29, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Diversity has become a goal for all sorts of institutions—but what it means may depend on who you ask. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Scienc ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

More news stories

How kids' brain structures grow as memory develops

Our ability to store memories improves during childhood, associated with structural changes in the hippocampus and its connections with prefrontal and parietal cortices. New research from UC Davis is exploring ...

Gate for bacterial toxins found

Prof. Dr. Dr. Klaus Aktories and Dr. Panagiotis Papatheodorou from the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University of Freiburg have discovered the receptor responsible ...