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How does SCOTUS's decision impact MBA applicants?

As you have likely heard, the Supreme Court ruled against Affirmative Action this week in a landmark ruling reversing a policy that had been in place for decades. Indeed, several of the judges on the court have spoken publicly about the role of Affirmative Action in their lived experience, making the decision even more profound.


We recognize that you may have questions or concerns regarding how this decision will affect the application process. Please ask. The decision is incredibly nuanced; there is so much to be confused above – the Department of Education may continue to collect data (and will do so through applications), however, schools are not able to consider that specific racial data through the admissions offices. That does not mean that they cannot consider racial or socioeconomic background in their evaluation of candidates, but how that information is secured will change. Essentially, diversity efforts can continue based on proxies that may correlate with race, but not race itself.


There is a precedent that will reduce the impact of this decision. This week’s decision follows one impacting California’s public colleges almost 25 years ago. The impact was immediate and drastic then, with representation rebounding over time. What’s different now is that schools around the rest of the country can learn from this experience and accelerate the timeline for change.


In fact, schools are already adapting. Several MBA programs opened their applications this week and many of them have added an optional question to gather more information about a person’s background. For example, Duke Fuqua’s application has added a new section in an effort to learn more about applicants' personal stories. It prompts the applicant to share things such as if they are the first in their family to attend college, if they grew up with financial hardship, or if they have other unique experiences. This will allow the applicant to share information that reflects the diversity of their experience in a way that cannot be captured by checking a box.


Bottom line – do not change your application plans. While we acknowledge legal complexities involved, we are hopeful that this decision does not discourage anyone from thinking that elite educational institutions are where they belong. Schools have long prioritized a variety of factors in crafting their classes. Having worked with thousands of applicants over the years, we’ve seen how each has rich, valuable perspectives that can contribute to any educational environment. Instead of holding yourself back, engage with any school you are interested in, and explore whether it is the right place for you. To paraphrase a famous Wayne Gretzky quote, you miss out on 100% of the schools you don’t apply to.


If you need an extra confidence boost, let us know.

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