Affirmative Action Policies: Reasons Pros And Cons

Categories: Affirmative Action

Affirmative action describes policies in which underprivileged minorities are given preference in university admissions or in being hired for a job. The term affirmative action was first presented by President Kennedy in 1961 as a means of truly addressing the discrimination that had persisted despite civil rights measures. It was developed for ensuring that minorities are considered equally for job positions, however, over the past 50 years, it has made its way into the college admission process where it has been the center of the debate.

Some argue that affirmative action is still necessary, while others believe it is a rigged process that favors minorities solely on their race and not merit. Given the institutional and structural racism that is, unfortunately, the basis of many organizations in the nation, I believe that affirmative action is needed to ensure a holistic and fairer process for college admissions. When the policy is implemented properly, affirmative action can have many positive impacts in ensuring the success of America and its citizens.

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Affirmative action is a necessary component in university admissions is that it ensures equal representation of races. It is a common theme throughout history that African Americans, Latinos, and others of other racial backgrounds are not represented fairly in admission to highly selective universities. This a highly prevalent in our society today. Although we have made great steps, especially in the last decade, in ensuring greater diversity in college admissions, students of color remain greatly underrepresented on college campuses nationwide. Affirmative action help students who come from low-income backgrounds and less developed neighborhoods to truly rise and be acknowledged for their achievement.

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Prioritizing diversity and employing policies that are cognizant of race, can prove essential in promoting equality of admissions on the tertiary level.

A major reason why affirmative action should be implemented in the college admission process is that it ensures a diverse environment. Diversity on college campuses is not only a means of increasing a university’s ranking and status but plays a major role in helping shape innovation. Learning with people from a wide range of backgrounds fosters collaboration and advancement which can benefit the students involved. Studies have shown the positive impacts that increased racial diversity brings, ranging from higher levels of academic success to the improvement of interpersonal relationships. Increased diversity on college campuses can also play a major role in influencing the United States’ status on the global stage. Maintaining the United States’ success and status as a symbol for advancement in the 21st century requires that the nation takes advantage of the talents and abilities of all our citizens, in work settings that bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures. These benefits that affirmative action brings about may result in better economic outcomes and, among other payoffs, prepare students to work in a diverse global economy, increasing the productivity, effectiveness, and creativity of teams.

Finally, elite colleges and universities have closed their doors or made it virtually impossible to attend. As a result, students of color remain vastly underrepresented at the nation’s highly selective universities. Affirmative action helps work against the effects of admission-based discrimination by ensuring colleges are more straightforward in their analysis of applicants. Although the system has been corrupted to some extent over the years, at its core it is truly an effective and fair method of ensuring that the American education system serves those who can benefit from it the most.  

Works cited

  1. Kennedy, J. F. (1961). Executive Order 10925—Establishing the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. The American Presidency Project.
  2. Sander, R. H. (2004). A systemic analysis of affirmative action in American law schools. Stanford Law Review, 57(2), 367-483.
  3. Holzer, H. J., Neumark, D., & Sanders, D. (2009). Affirmative action and employment. Journal of Economic Literature, 47(3), 633-663.
  4. Choudhury, T., & Kaul, N. (2020). Affirmative action in university admissions: Evidence from a policy experiment. Journal of Public Economics, 183, 104130.
  5. Massey, D. S., & Charles, C. Z. (2003). The origins of the underclass: Evidence from a longitudinal study. American Sociological Review, 68(5), 673-701.
  6. Espenshade, T. J., & Chung, C. Y. (2005). The opportunity cost of admission preferences at elite universities. Social Science Quarterly, 86(2), 293-305.
  7. Kahlenberg, R. D. (2012). Affirmative action for the rich: Legacy preferences in college admissions. The Century Foundation.
  8. Gurin, P., Dey, E. L., Hurtado, S., & Gurin, G. (2002). Diversity and higher education: Theory and impact on educational outcomes. Harvard Educational Review, 72(3), 330-366.
  9. Sturm, S. (2001). Affirmative action for the privileged. Michigan Law Review, 100(6), 1371-1502.
  10. Loury, G. C. (2005). Affirmative action in higher education. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 19(3), 147-161.
Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Affirmative Action Policies: Reasons Pros And Cons. (2024, Feb 07). Retrieved from

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