Supposedly, affirmative action is a great thing. By adding race as a factor of the holistic system, some top-tier colleges can supposedly help minority groups rise in their socio-economic status. Furthermore, it is completely legal to do this after the Supreme Court case Grutter v. Bollinger.
The issue is, these statements are theoretical, in practice the results are drastically different. The most glaring issue is that many students that are admitted into “selective” schools (schools that accept less than 50% of their applicants) via affirmative action are not succeeding. In fact, approximately 50% of blacks and 33% of hispanics end up in the bottom 20% of their class.
Furthermore, the students who are accepted due to affirmative action are not necessarily satisfied with their time at these high-level colleges. In a survey by the New York Times, upper-middle-class white students had the highest satisfaction, and working-class black students had the lowest satisfaction in colleges that utilize affirmative action. This means that minorities that are being “helped” by affirmative action are ending up behind, and they are unhappy with the results.
Affirmative action is also largely inadequate in a larger issue: the fact that, on average, black students go into school one year behind their white peers, and end up four years behind by the end of high school. This is an issue that can only be solved with better education before college, and the burden of helping minority students succeed should not be offhandedly given to colleges that chose to employ affirmative action.
Finally, the playing field is also already equalized on a school-to-school basis, for example, a 4.0 GPA at a high school in LA is likely to meet higher merits than a 4.0 GPA from Mount Carmel, assuming all else equal. This level of equalization should be enough; a less prepared student from the same school should not be favored over a student with potentially higher merits, all it leads to is higher dropout rates and lower satisfaction in supposedly elite-class schools.
It is a way of reverse discrimination, and feels like a half-hearted attempt to make up for the misdeeds we did to minorities in the past.