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Survey: Most Support a Diverse College Campus, But Not Admissions by Race Alone

Survey: Most Support a Diverse College Campus, But Not Admissions by Race Alone


A new national survey finds that public opinion on racial considerations in college admissions shows that most Americans support having a diverse collegiate population, but do not feel that race alone should be a factor.

The survey, conducted by Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion, found that 85 percent of Americans feel living in a diverse atmosphere prepares students to function in society better.
The findings also reveal 78 percent of Americans believe that the institutions should make at least some effort to make up for students’ economic situation when considering them for admission.
But the survey also showed that most Americans, including minorities, do not feel that colleges and universities should explicitly use a student’s race as a deciding factor in the admissions process. According to the findings, 80 percent of all Americans and 64 percent of minorities oppose race-conscious admissions.
More strongly though, Americans disapprove of schools considering the high social status of an applicant’s parents in the admissions process by 92 percent. They also oppose consideration of a student’s gender (83 percent), athletic ability (56 percent) or if an applicant’s parent or grandparent graduated from the school to which the student is applying (75 percent).
When asked what should be considered in
the admissions process, Americans strongly supported a comprehensive approach that considers both quantitative and qualitative factors. Topping the list of quantitative factors are high school grades (88 percent) and scores on standardized college entrance exams (85 percent).
Among qualitative factors that most Americans support are recommendations from teachers, principals or counselors (85 percent); leadership or service in the community (80 percent); leadership or service in school (77 percent); and artistic, theatrical or musical talent (73 percent).
The survey reveals the complexity of affirmative action in college admissions, which has gotten national attention recently with the U.S. Supreme Court expected to rule soon on the constitutionality of the University of Michigan’s admissions policies.
“Regardless of the court ruling in the Michigan case, it is important for colleges and universities to continue their efforts to find constitutionally acceptable ways to diversify their student bodies. It is in the best interest of our country to do so,” says Dr. Dennis J. ­Murray, president of Marist College.
The Marist survey was conducted from Jan. 27-31. Surveyors interviewed 1,003 adults aged 18 or older within the continental United States by telephone. The survey carries a margin of error at plus or minus 3 percentage points. The error margin increases for cross tabulations.  
— Associated Press and news releases

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