The Supreme Court’s decision to prohibit race as a consideration in higher education admission is expected to decrease the matriculation of underrepresented students. Now, the key question is how to build a diverse and equitable campus within these new parameters. Prospective and current students, alumni, and stakeholders are closely watching how institutions will respond. 

The Barthwell Group, a trusted DEI advisor to over 25 higher education institutions throughout the United States, proposes three key strategies to adapt to this decision.  


Enhance Recruitment Outreach Strategically 

Many underrepresented students may not have access to information or may be a first-generation student. It is critical to have trusted persons such as guidance counselors, current students, alumni, faculty, staff, and even parents who can speak to a student’s potential experience. Is there potential to diversify primary recruiting pools or the institution’s representatives? Efforts can be as small as expanding the locations of info sessions to as large as summer learning programs. Regardless of the approach, institutions should increase brand awareness among students and parents, cultivate relationships with trusted advisors of prospective students, and highlight that all students belong. 


Review Admissions Policies / Practices 

Consider whether current admission policies / practices may dissuade applications and matriculation from underrepresented students. For example, may costly application fees be waived or reduced? Are standardized test scores the best predictors of academic success? How might admission processes factor in resilience / determination to succeed? Institutions should make the process more accessible and reflect a holistic view of prospective students. Evaluate what is possible with the existing resources or constraints.  


Ensure Inclusive Campus Environments 

Often higher education institutions believe that their campuses are welcoming and inclusive. However, there may be a disconnect between the espoused values and the experiences of underrepresented students, faculty, and staff (both current and applicants). Prospective students make judgments on whether they are a “culture fit” or feel they will belong based on the information available. To appeal to prospective students and retain current students, an inclusive environment is imperative to both their experience and academic success.  


The Barthwell Group has advised our clients on higher educational challenges in a volatile environment. Some of our solutions have been to facilitate relationship-building between institutions, assess decision-making factors of high school applicants, conduct DEI climate surveys, create strategic plans (including university-wide, department / school levels, and DEI-focused), and more. The Barthwell Group continues to support our clients with tailored solutions to meet their needs. Even with the Supreme Court’s decision, a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion must remain a priority.  


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