The Supreme Court has just announced its long-anticipated ruling restricting the use of affirmative action in higher education admission. This decision has garnered significant attention and ignited passionate discussions across the nation. While many will have strong emotions and opinions surrounding this topic, I urge you all to be contemplative as we await the full implications, including insights from colleges who have been planning for this result. We can productively channel our energies and our work into encouraging colleges and universities to develop innovative new strategies to assure their campuses are diverse, reflective of the nation, and welcoming to all.

Affirmative action has long been a contentious issue, provoking a range of reactions from different individuals and communities. Some view it as a necessary tool to address historical inequalities and promote diversity, while others see it as an infringement upon merit-based principles. Regardless of your personal stance, we can all agree that as higher education institutions play a vital role in shaping the future of our society,  it is crucial to ensure that their admissions processes are fair, inclusive, diverse and effective. These principles speak to IECA’s guiding principles.

With the Supreme Court’s ruling against affirmative action in admission, it presents an opportunity for colleges and universities to reevaluate their admission practices and develop new game plans that align with the changing legal landscape. IECA and all of our members can actively engage in meaningful conversations and encourage institutions to explore alternative approaches that promote diversity, equity, and excellence simultaneously.

The post-affirmative action era could witness the emergence of creative and dynamic solutions aimed at fostering inclusivity while maintaining high academic standards. Universities may consider implementing socio-economic factors, holistic evaluations, or tailored outreach programs to ensure equal opportunities for all students, regardless of their background or ethnicity. By urging institutions to proactively embrace change, we can help shape a future in which diversity and merit coexist harmoniously.

It is important to remember that progress often emerges from challenges and adversity. Instead of allowing anger or resentment to consume us, let us channel our energies into supporting our colleges and universities as they navigate the evolving landscape. Engaging in constructive dialogue, advocating for transparency, and demanding accountability will be vital as we collectively work towards creating a higher education system that is fair, inclusive, and accessible to all.

In the coming weeks and months, IECA will explore avenues for such dialogue and innovation at conferences, in webinars, in Insights, and beyond. IECA’s Government Relations Committee has established a task force to study the Supreme Court’s action and colleges’ responses. Together as leading voices representing our clients and their families, we can pave the way for a brighter and more inclusive future in higher education.

Together, let’s champion progress, embrace diversity in all its forms, and promote constructive dialogue.


  1. Very well said. As always, guidance on these matters as we all try to navigate this decision in the days ahead is extremely appreciated.

  2. Dear Mark,
    As always, you show your calm, intelligent, and hopeful leadership to us in IECA as you look to the future and encourage us to be thoughtful in our viewpoints and true to our methods and philosophies. I look forward to hearing more from our Special Task Force and the organization.
    With a warm summer smile,
    Carolyn P. Mulligan
    Insiders Network to College
    Summit, NJ

  3. Dear Mark, et. al.,

    This timely, measured and highly thoughtful response to the Supreme Court’s decision today reminds me of how proud I am to be a member of this truly outstanding organization. Thank you.

  4. It is a good opportunity to brainstorm the opportunities and challenges of this decision:
    What should coaches recommend to their students?
    What should Hispanic and Afro-descendant students be doing now for their fall applications?
    Should we promote a webinar with some admission directors (Say Harvard, UNC, etc) to hear how they will be changing their admission processes going forward?

  5. Thank you for your thoughtful, measured and hopeful response. I appreciate IECA’s continued guidance and am proud to be a member of this organization. Working together we can achieve our goals.

  6. Can I ask why it seems this post is saying that high academic standards are at odds with inclusivity? Affirmative Action wasn’t at odds with that idea. I think we need to be careful of just accepting this as the “new way of doing things” and be more active in our advocacy for the protection and promotion of marginalized groups within admissions and our government. To be clear, “Affirmative action is intended to promote the opportunities of defined minority groups within a society to give them equal access to that of the majority population.” Taking away AA is leaving a hole in admissions and will be detrimental to those groups that are not in the majority (namely, non-white folks). I agree that colleges and universities will need to get creative in how this is addressed, since they are bound by this ruling, but we can also grieve this decision and plan to take action in our local and national governments.

    1. I am not sure why IECA would not be willing to articulate that we, as IECs, can “channel our energies into supporting our colleges and universities as they navigate the evolving landscape. Engaging in constructive dialogue, advocating for transparency, and demanding accountability will be vital as we collectively work towards creating a higher education system that is fair, inclusive, and accessible to all” while also challenging this decision. Sometimes there is a need for more than a thoughtful, measured response.

    2. Breanne, I never meant to imply that affirmative action is, in any way, at odds with high academic standards. Affirmative action has served as a means to assure that students with high academic abilities, but for whom under-resourced schools and economics, may have kept them from succeeding on traditional measures of standardized test scores, summer enrichment, and more, are not penalized for these historically-based challenges. I am heartened to read statement after statement from universities pledging to do more to assure diverse campuses, and yesterday to hear the President announce a plan to release guidance to college admission offices in 45 days with specific suggestions on assuring diversity. This is where I think IECs and IECA can contribute to the discussion. Over the next month or so, conversations about legacy admission, elitist sports (fencing, rowing, lacrosse), a renewed emphasis on character, and extensive outreach to under-represented communities should all be on the table for discussion.

      1. Mark,
        Thank you for this response. I think what you are saying above is what I was looking for initially and was hopeful there would be more of a proactive take on this. I am also heartened by the response from colleges and universities and I know the professionals in this space are in support of furthered action to support these students. As IECA works towards any future actionable items, I hope I can step and in to help as needed. I would like to see IECs supporting our colleagues that are already doing this work and putting our collective weight and expertise behind them while being open about the setbacks and potential trauma this SCOTUS decision has caused and will cause for many years.

        Priscilla, thank you for also articulating this.

      2. I also want to be clear that contributing to discussions isn’t an actionable response, nor will it get us to an equitable position in admissions after this decision. I would challenge IECs to step up and work with advocacy groups in their states and through IECA to take more action.

  7. Mark, thank you for your articulate response to this very sensitive issue. As always your words were carefully chosen and well thought out. As an organization we need to remain calm, listen, and think before lashing out.

  8. My first reaction was dismay, but then I read a similar article in the news; I think it was on the CNN app or in NYT . The author claimed he was a liberal and wrote a measured, optimistic article. I think the colleges will find innovative ways to have a diverse student body.

    1. Peggy, read my answer above to Breanne that I just posted. It gets to some of my reasons for optimism. I’m not blinded by positivity, but there are signs that universities will adjust.

  9. Thanks for your well-thoughtout response. I would just say that the court case was about race-conscious admission decisions, not about affirmative action so we might as group want to use the latter term. While this case may later impact affirmative action in general through other legal challenges, that term was not used in Robert’s opinion.

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