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Affirmative Action in College Admission

Affirmative action refers to policies enacted by either institutions or legislators to benefit an underrepresented group in areas of education, business and employment. It includes taking into consideration factors such as religion, color, race, gender, national origin, and sexual orientation, which forms the history of discrimination. Edwards (2009, ) notes that “affirmative action refers to both voluntary and mandatory efforts undertaken by federal, state, and local governments; private employers; and schools to combat discrimination and to promote equal opportunity in education and employment for all”(15). Moore (2009) states that affirmative action is a procedure designed to level out the relics of discrimination and segregation. 

Problem Statement

Affirmative action in college admission has raised many questions on its validity since it the root of postgraduate admissions and jobs (Edwards, 2009). Institutions such as University of California and the University of Texas terminated their affirmative action admissions policies in the mid to late 1990s (Heather, 2005). This has seen the admission of the minority group to drop compared to when the policies were in place. Formerly, the minority were given priority in college admissions to attain equity in the national level. Moore (2005) also notes that in 1990s, the number of underrepresented students was increasing significantly in college admissions, but now the blacks are deprived of chances in colleges that cannot consider race as an admission factor.

Research Questions

The study seeks to answer the following questions

  1. Did the elimination of affirmative action policies from California and Texas affect college admissions of the minority?
  2. How does affirmative action in college admission relate to the performance of minority students?

Research Hypothesis

H0: Elimination of affirmative action does not reduce the number of the minorities in colleges

H1: Elimination of Affirmative action reduces the number of minorities in colleges.

Significance of the study

Most parents are not aware of affirmative action in college admission (Edward, 2009); therefore, this paper will help in creating awareness among parents. Secondly, the study will help various college administrations in the United State to change their view on affirmative action in college admissions. Finally, the study will help both the federal and state governments to know the views of citizens concerning affirmative action in college admission, and probably, enact laws governing affirmative action policies in college admissions.

Literature Review

Several studies have been carried out concerning affirmative action. A study done by Edwards (2009) shows that affirmative action in the United States was enacted in 1960s and has been the topic of debates among the proponents and opponents of affirmative action. Edwards (2009) found out that both the proponents and the opponents of affirmative action have the same opinion that more minorities successfully earning postsecondary degrees is an enviable result, but they disagree on the modalities of getting there. 

Proponents argue that there are many benefits that accrue to the society because of affirmative action since it enhances diversity in educational institutions (Edwards, 2009). Moreover, organizations that embrace affirmative action have realized great improvements in terms of productivity and market control (Edwards, 2009). Gurin, Dey, and Hurtado, in their study of Educational Benefits of Diversity, used 10,000 students at multiple colleges in which they found that “diversity in Higher education increases academic skills and promotes intellectual motivation and engagement” (Edwards, 2009, Pg 2).

However, the opponents based argument on their perceived discriminative nature of affirmative action (Edwards, 2009). They advocated for referenda to ban the affirmative action, which saw university of California board of Regents vote to eliminate all campus affirmative action programs based on race and sex in 1996 (Mark, 2004).  This led to the decrease in the number of black and Hispanic students admitted into public universities from 30% to 50% and the minority representation in the freshman classes reduced tremendously (Card and Krueger, 2005). Despite the gains brought about by affirmative action to the African-American, opponents still argue that affirmative action has created a big gap between the middle-class and lower class African-Americans (Edwards, 2009). Therefore, to curb the declining number of the minority in colleges and employment sectors, some states came up with new ways to bring equity in the U.S.

Some states such as Texas, in 1997, instituted a program known as top-x% programs, which guaranteed admission to public universities to students who graduate in the top x% of their high school (Mark, 2004). In 1999, California adopted the program that saw 4% of top students who graduated from high school got admission to colleges. In addition, Florida, in 2000, adopted the top-x% program, which was spearheaded by the then governor, Jeb Bush, where the top-20% who graduated from high school and completed a preparatory curriculum enrolled into at least one of the state universities (Mark, 2004).  

Finally, a study done by Heather (2005) shows that the performance of students admitted, in colleges, by the affirmative action program is lower than that of non-affirmative students. She found out that affirmative action students earned grade point averages (GPAs) of 0.3o points, which was lower than that of non-affirmative students (Heather, 2005). In addition, only 57% of affirmative action beneficiaries graduated compared to 73% non-affirmative action students (Heather, 2005). Therefore, this research aimed at justifying the findings of Heather about the effects of affirmative action in college admissions.

Data Collection methods and procedure

Data collection was carried out using questionnaires, survey and oral interviews within educational institutions sampled across the United States. Both structured and unstructured questions were used for effective data collection. Therefore, questionnaire was the main data collection instrument. Data collection procedure  involved consideration of both primary data and secondary data. This data was then analyzed to help in answering the research questions.

Data Analysis and Presentation

The collected data was evaluated, assessed and comparison made to select the most accurate information from the feedback given by respondents. The data obtained was then analyzed using Ms Excel after which the findings were presented using charts as shown below.

Ethical and Privacy Issues

The data collected was handled with utmost confidentiality to ensure that the information collected was not seen by unauthorized parties. Secondly, the respondents were notified in advance about the research for easy collection of data by the researcher. Finally, the researcher upheld honesty throughout the exercise of data collection to guarantee accurate research findings and guard against any possible biasness in data analysis and interpretation.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Affirmative action in college admission refers to a policy developed by the institutions of higher and elementary education in the U.S. in an attempt to ensure equity in the admission of students from all categories of social and cultural backgrounds- both the minority and mainstream ethnic groups alike. In the essence, affirmative action was meant to restore the lingering vestiges of discrimination and create opportunities for the underrepresented groups (Moore, 2009).

The study findings show that the number of the minorities admitted in colleges increased courtesy of affirmative action. In sharp contrast, population of the minorities is dwindling in both California and Texas due to the mounting pressure from the states legislators to have affirmative action policies scrapped off in education sector. The result shows that between 1994 and1996 the number of black non-Hispanic students admitted in California colleges hit 22646 and 22600. between 1999 and2001. On the other hand, the number of the white Non-Hispanic students admitted in California colleges increased from 134,796 to 139,154 uninterrupted.

Consequently, colleges are stunned by the decline in the number of the minorities in their institutions hence they are formulating remedial measures to diversify their admissions along the racial lines. From the research findings, it is lucid that affirmative action played a plausible role in creating diversity in colleges. Texas and California have adopted a new system of college admission, known as the top-x% program, which may not fully create diversity because the white are more advantaged than the minorities in terms of the learning environment and admission privileges.

The research recommends that both the federal and the state governments should adopt affirmative action in college admissions. This will ensure that ethnic diversity is restored in colleges, and perhaps, in the job market.   

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