It is no longer lawful for colleges to take race into account as one factor when admitting students. Though the recent Supreme Court decision still allows consideration of one’s racial or ethnic background in one’s lived experiences, race or ethnicity can no longer constitute a benefit in admissions. So how will you truly be affected?

Control what you can control. 

This decision primarily affects only those applying to the 80 or so selective colleges that reject the majority of their applicants. The other 2700-plus four-year colleges will continue to accept the vast majority of their applicants. 

As selective colleges now employ alternative strategies to enhance diversity on their campuses, their acceptance decisions may become even more mysterious and subjective. Rather than lament this opacity, go on offense. Control what you can control.

Do the best you can in school and on the ACT or SAT. Create volunteer opportunities or internships that connect and further your interests. Write essays filled with specifics that reveal you, strengthening your narrative throughout the application. Ask teachers, who can advance this story of you, to write your recommendations.

Whether seeking a big merit scholarship at a college you like or admission into a highly selective college, control what you can control: grades, scores, an extra-curricular or two, essays, recommendations, and a related volunteer experience or internship. 

Well before this court decision, I knew of an objectively excellent applicant who suffered many surprising rejection letters. Conversely, a high school counselor told me about a student who did not submit her low ACT score and won a full-tuition merit scholarship. 

So we already were in unchartered waters in selective college admissions. This court decision creates even more mystery regarding what admissions and scholarship gatekeepers are thinking.  

Some states, like California and Michigan, have previously experienced similar legal verdicts implemented by their state supreme courts. Their selective colleges initially saw big decreases in minority student numbers. In time, the numbers have returned nearly to where they had been. Let pundits speculate about the eventual impact of this Supreme Court Decision. Control what you can control: your grades, test scores, and the rest. 

Keep in mind what’s important.

If you can get into and can afford a selective college, terrific. But remember, it’s not so much where you go to college, but how you go to college. Life-changing four-year education can be had at less selective colleges at much lower costs. Get educated on where you, as a college shopper, can find your true values.

—John Baylor, Founder/CEO of OnToCollege