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Columbia University President on Test Scores, Racial Preferences, and Legacy Admissions

Columbia University President Lee Bollinger recently shared his views on the role of test scores, racial preferences, and legacy admissions in college admissions. In a conversation with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” Bollinger expressed concern about the Supreme Court striking down racial preferences and discussed the complexities surrounding legacy admissions.

Bollinger’s Perspective on Legacy Admissions

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Addressing the criticism raised by students and activist groups regarding legacy admissions, Bollinger acknowledged the potential privilege associated with longstanding families and accumulated wealth. However, he disputed the notion that eliminating legacy admissions would significantly increase diversity. Bollinger pointed out that universities vary in how much weight they give to legacy status when considering applicants. He emphasized that while the legacy issue deserves serious discussion and debate, eliminating legacy admissions would not be an effective approach to address the racial and ethnic diversity concerns brought forth by the court’s decision.

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Standardized Test Scores and Inequality

When asked about standardized tests, Bollinger highlighted an important aspect of the admissions process. He explained that standardized test scores were originally intended to promote equality of opportunity by providing a measure that was independent of family connections and wealth. However, in recent years, it has become increasingly evident that standardized test scores tend to reinforce existing inequalities rather than overcome them. Bollinger suggested that it might be time to reassess the significance placed on standardized test scores in college admissions.

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Looking Ahead

Bollinger’s comments reflect his belief that the elimination of legacy admissions would not be a panacea for achieving greater diversity, while emphasizing the need to reevaluate the role of standardized test scores. As conversations surrounding college admissions continue, it remains crucial to consider alternative approaches that foster inclusivity and equal opportunity for all students.

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