Self-Identified “Compelling Interests” are Not a License to Discriminate

To what extent can a selective educational institution advantage certain racial groups in admissions decisions without discriminating against other groups simultaneously? How can said institutions balance external demands for fairness and group representation with their core mission to educate students sufficiently? How much influence should an institution itself wield, compared with other stakeholders (including the … Continue reading “Self-Identified “Compelling Interests” are Not a License to Discriminate”


Rescuing “Virtue and Talents” Amidst the War on Tests

On March 28, 2022, Stuart Schmill, Dean of Admissions and Student Financial Services at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced the school’s plan to restore the consideration of standardized tests to its undergraduate admissions process. A heavyweight bucks against the self-destructive path of attacking merit and standards. Will more follow suit? Or, is MIT’s … Continue reading “Rescuing “Virtue and Talents” Amidst the War on Tests”


“Contract-Grading” and the War Against Academic Excellence

When I was in high school in the mid-1990s, we were all required to swim in gym class. This was before wokeness. Since then, concerns over “accessibility,” “inclusion,” “acceptance,” and changing clothes in a locker room have all but killed physical education. The decline was already in motion, even back then. The girls and boys … Continue reading ““Contract-Grading” and the War Against Academic Excellence”


Judge Rules for UNC in Admissions Case

In 2014, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) filed suit against the University of North Carolina. Its complaint argued that the university had engaged in intentional discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity to the detriment of SFFA members. The suit followed in a line of cases challenging the admissions policies of universities, where students … Continue reading “Judge Rules for UNC in Admissions Case”


How Short-term Thinking on Race Has Caused Long-term Problems in Higher Education

Editor’s note: This essay is based on a talk given by Gail Heriot on October 29, 2021, for the Martin Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re here tonight, it’s because you are concerned that our colleges and universities aren’t doing so well. Maybe you’re even very concerned. Well … I hate … Continue reading “How Short-term Thinking on Race Has Caused Long-term Problems in Higher Education”


Did You Know? Some UNC Student-Athletes Don’t Meet Minimum Admission Requirements

Some student-athletes at UNC schools get admitted despite not meeting the minimum admission requirements. The university system counts these students as “exceptions.”  The system’s universal minimum admission requirements—which are the same for athletes and non-athletes—have undergone some recent changes. In March 2020, the board of governors voted to temporarily change the minimum requirements (as a … Continue reading “Did You Know? Some UNC Student-Athletes Don’t Meet Minimum Admission Requirements”


Don’t Rock the Boat: UNC BOG Members Rarely Vote ‘Nay’

The members of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors are charged with a solemn duty: to oversee and guide the state’s public university system. Although some of their day-to-day responsibilities might seem mundane, many of the decisions they make shape the system’s standards, values, and the extent to which the university’s dual mission … Continue reading “Don’t Rock the Boat: UNC BOG Members Rarely Vote ‘Nay’”


College Admissions Essays Are Getting Shorter—and More Political

The college admissions essay can be a stressful part of the application process for students. Like standardized test scores, however, their influence is waning. Many colleges have stopped requiring them. Even when they do, essays tend to be short—more like personal statements than a longer and more serious piece of writing. On the bright side, … Continue reading “College Admissions Essays Are Getting Shorter—and More Political”


The Last Refuge of Pure Meritocracy

Racial consideration for college admissions hearkens back to Grutter v. Bollinger, the landmark decision by the Supreme Court in 2003. It held that affirmative action programs can pass muster as long as they are “narrowly tailored” in order to achieve the “compelling interest” of promoting diversity on college campuses. Colleges across the country have since … Continue reading “The Last Refuge of Pure Meritocracy”


UNC Will Not Require the SAT Next Year

On July 23, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors voted to temporarily waive the SAT or ACT requirement for college applicants. The vote came after UNC administrators proposed that an “emergency temporary waiver” be approved so that students who are unable to take the test due to cancellations are not negatively impacted in … Continue reading “UNC Will Not Require the SAT Next Year”