DOJ’s Investigation Into College “Reverse Discrimination” Likely to Backfire

My latest post at suggests that the Dept. of Justice’s look at supposed discriminatory behavior at “elite” colleges and universities will only create a worse situation. Also, hasn’t the Supreme Court already spoken on this issue?

Let me know what you think:


About Will Dix

I am currently writing a book about college admission. I'm interested in the intersection of the college process and American culture. I attended Amherst College in the 1970s, taught high school English and theater at The Hill School in the '80s, returned to Amherst in the '90s as an admission dean, and began the '00s as a college counselor at the University of Chicago Laboratory School. I then joined Chicago Scholars as Program Director. Currently, I blog about college admission for I also help community organizations serving low income students understand the college admission process so more students can consider gaining access to higher education. I have a few private college counseling clients that I take by referral only. The views expressed in this blog are mine alone.
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3 Responses to DOJ’s Investigation Into College “Reverse Discrimination” Likely to Backfire

  1. Matt Collins says:

    You make a compelling case for giving institutions of higher education broad leeway for selecting the right students for each class. I hope that in return, schools prioritize and select for those qualities about which students have the most control, recognizing that what we perceive to be “control” is very much a sliding scale. On one end of that scale are skills we can acquire. Not everyone can be a master pianist, a high-scoring striker, or a champion debater, but nearly everyone can take up music or try out for sports or extracurricular teams. On the other and most extreme end of that sliding scale would be factors over which a person has zero control. That includes the “right” legacy status, racial, gender or sexual identity. Those who have it possess an advantage for no other reason than they were born into favorable circumstances, at least as it relates to this particular outcome. (I admit that as a beneficiary of a family legacy myself.) Relying on these sorts of considerations, even a little, troubles me, even when they are applied to noble goals, because of the people they penalize as much as the people they help. I hope one day soon that colleges and universities can rely not at all on these uncontrollables.


    • Will Dix says:

      Matt, thanks for your thoughtful response. You also added some interesting perspective about factors that can be controlled or developed vs those that can’t. It’s a tough and tangled question in relation to college admission. By equating college attendance (particularly “elite” college attendance) with “success” and making it the gateway to receiving the benefits society provides, we’ve put enormous pressure on all sides to get there. It’s remarkable to me that these institutions, including our alma mater, nearly all began as relatively modest efforts to educate young men for ministry. No one really expected them to get rich or become captains of industry. The idea that “indigent young men of piety” (now including women, of course) were the targets of the educational enterprise long ago fell by the wayside…No turning the clock back on that, unfortunately.

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  2. Matt Collins says:

    I agree the genie will refuse to go back into that lamp. That’s why I’ve appreciated your perspective. You’ve articulated compellingly that one way to widen the entrance to success is to de-pressurize that push to get into the top 25-50 institutions and instead help match kids to the post-high school alternative that’s best for them, regardless of the brand name. It seems that any attempt to reform the elite schools will amount to nibbling at the margin at best. They have little incentive to change. There’s a lot more to do with the hundreds to thousands of other options that can accelerate a student’s economic, social and moral mobility.


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