Three Ideas for Post-Coronavirus Educational Recovery
There are many ways that schools can proactively address the inevitable and inequitable gaps caused by coronavirus-related school closures.
The Center / March 01, 2022
College admissions practices are coming under scrutiny at both the state and federal levels. Recently passed bills and those currently under review promise to ban consideration of students’ relationships with donors or alumni during the admissions process in an effort to increase the numbers of first-generation, low-income, and other students traditionally underrepresented in higher education. Taking into account these prior relationships to the institution when making admissions decisions is referred to as “legacy admissions” practices.
Last year, the Colorado General Assembly passed HB21-1173, which prohibits a governing board of a state-supported higher institution from considering legacy and family relationships to the institution’s alumni when making decisions in the admissions process. This law also allows public institution governing boards to collect data on admitted students’ family relationships to alumni. Through this legislation, the General Assembly sought to increase the number of admitted first-generation and other underrepresented students at the states’ public higher education institutions.
The Connecticut General Assembly is now considering H.B. 5034, which would take the Colorado legislation a step further and prohibit both public and private institutions of higher education from considering legacy status as part of the application process. This bill is currently in early stages of consideration and drawing strong opinions on both sides of the issue.
[The bills] promise to ban consideration of students’ relationships with donors or alumni during the admissions process in an effort to increase the numbers of...[those] traditionally underrepresented in higher education.
Yale’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid provided written testimony opposing the bill while the president of the Yale First-Generation, Low-Income Advocacy Movement joined a virtual hearing to testify in support. Other institutions, as well as legislators, expressed concern about interfering with the practices of private institutions. The bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Higher Education and Employment Advancement, and a vote has not been scheduled at the time of this post.
At the federal level, The Fair College Admissions for Students Act was introduced last month in the House by Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY-16) and in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). This bill would prohibit legacy considerations during the admission process for higher education institutions that participate in federal student aid programs. As written, these bills would apply to both public and private institutions of higher education.
This act would allow the education secretary to waive legacy preferences at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which already admit large numbers of students from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education. This act would most likely have a greater impact on private institutions, particularly those that are highly selective.
To #AdvocateFirstgen, reach out to your congressional representatives and share your thoughts on these bills. You can contact your senator or member of the House of Representatives and share how prohibiting legacy admissions would help promote access to higher education for students in your area.
What strategies have helped you to champion first-generation students successfully? Share your perspective on first-generation student advocacy and pertinent policy issues across social media with #AdvocateFirstgen.