Admissions Trends & Policy: Shifting Legal Landscape & The Impact on Admissions

Beyond trends on the side of applicants and colleges, a third and often forgotten player has been increasingly influential in admissions: the government. In 2016 the Supreme Court narrowly decided Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin, siding in favor of the university by narrow margin that it is not discriminatory to have affirmative action policies for underrepresented racial minorities. However, a lawsuit against Harvard brought on by Asian applicants is currently circulating the courts, where Asian applicants are accusing Harvard of illegal racial quotas and trying to overturn current court precedent allowing consideration of race in admissions. With new shifts in the Supreme Court since the 2016 decision, the status of race consideration in admissions – including affirmative action for underrepresented minorities – is uncertain in 2018 and going forward.

Additionally, the enrollment of international students has been decreasing in recent years as international students are uncertain of the volatile US immigration and political landscape. The effect of decreased enrollment is two-fold: college campuses are becoming less diverse and public universities have fewer financial resources for students (since international students pay significantly more than domestic students and subsidize domestic student costs). With over 40% of colleges reporting a decrease in international student yield and international student enrollment falling by 7%, colleges are increasing efforts to recruit and retain international students, and these efforts will continue into 2018.

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