No good substitute for race in college admissions

June 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: Campus diversity important predictor of interracial friendships

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

Related Stories

Impact of affirmative action bans in graduate fields of study

January 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 ...

Recommended for you

Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?

August 28, 2015

Everyone is excited by discoveries of new dinosaurs – or indeed any new fossil species. But a key question for palaeontologists is 'just how good is the fossil record?' Do we know fifty per cent of the species of dinosaurs ...

Fractals patterns in a drummer's music

August 28, 2015

Fractal patterns are profoundly human – at least in music. This is one of the findings of a team headed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen and Harvard University ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.