Affirmative Action: Alternatives For Systems Of Equality

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction to the Concept of Fairness and Equality
  2. The Historical Context and Shortcomings of Affirmative Action
  3. The Impact of Affirmative Action on Minority Communities
  4. Evaluating Affirmative Action's Effectiveness for Women
  5. The Need for Alternatives to Affirmative Action
  6. Implementing Socioeconomic-Based Solutions for Equality
  7. Work Cited

Introduction to the Concept of Fairness and Equality

Fairness is based on what? Fairness is an impartial and just treatment or behavior without favoritism or discrimination. I am a firm believer in this concept, and I believe a man, or a woman is free to choose a path in their life that is both challenging and fulfilling. These paths that each of us choose can be achieved through hard work and determination. We all want a chance to achieve a goal or a dream and an equal chance to do so. Equal chances for job opportunities, equal chances to be enrolled into schools, etc. The successes of people should not be based on race, gender, sex, ethnicity, but on individual achievement. These things that classify us as people are not negative things, unless they are treated as such. They are not qualifiers for success, disqualifiers, or roadblocks holding us back.

The Historical Context and Shortcomings of Affirmative Action

Many of the policies in society began as ways to bring diversity into higher education, opportunities for jobs and to achieve equality. They have fallen short of their intended purposes. Policies such as “Affirmative Action”, whose procedures were put in place in the 1960s during the civil right movement to give historically minority groups including women, equal opportunities in the workplace and in education. However, although this policy was great and perfect for its time to correct a long historical past of discrimination it is now out of date and miss-interpreted by colleges and universities who use quotas and points systems to close the gaps in enrollment. Is this fair? Accepting students based on skin color or gender rather than the grades, test scores, or other qualifiers? I think not. This system is outdated and needs to be re-formed so as to give equal opportunity to all students.

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If you took a person not from this country and someone that had no idea of the Affirmative Action policy and introduced them to the basic values and processes of this policy, they would recognize that it is most definitely discrimination based on of race, sex, gender. Whatever the case may be for why this policy started I think that it is important for all people discussing the topic to think about who it benefits or more specifically what are we as a nation getting out of it? Some say it is to bring diversity into school systems. To bring members from all walks of life together to learn from one another. If this is the reason, then I don’t think a lot of people would be arguing.

The Impact of Affirmative Action on Minority Communities

Does Affirmative Action help the black community as far as reaching the disconnected class? Those who don’t have jobs or are not applying for schools? As far as I can tell it is helping those in the black community who are already excelling. Those in the black community that don’t necessarily need it, students that are at no disadvantage, but that are now held to a lower standard of excellence who are handed a great advantage over others. It has help students who are applying for med school, master’s programs etc.… wouldn’t you say these people are capable of getting in without the people helping their cause along? They have already been competitive enough and are among the top of their classes if that is the case. It has not helped the intended community that has fallen behind get better educations, better jobs or any amount of progression at all.

Evaluating Affirmative Action's Effectiveness for Women

Have these policies helped the women in our communities? In recent studies women who now graduate at higher rates than men by more than two percent are still not being paid competitive wages compared to many males with similar or even lesser degrees. Does this seem like affirmative action has actually come up with a real solution? It seems these policies do not actually have the answers. This is why I don’t think Affirmative Action is helping our country, it sounds good when others advocate for it, but the numbers don’t match up. Women work the same jobs as men, yet they are not being promoted to leadership positions, they are not paid fairly, and they are more than qualified. Affirmative action may have helped them get through school, but if it hasn’t helped them significantly in the job market does it really matter at all?

Although the ideas of “Affirmative Action” began as a way to mend of society it has started what some are calling “reverse racism” both in higher education and in the work force. Those people who have work just as hard are now being punished because of their ethnicity or gender. Does this seem to be a fair system where the smartest and most qualified are accepted? Or is it a system where 'fairness' has become a twisted idea of punishing others for the cause of diversity?

The Need for Alternatives to Affirmative Action

Contrary to what advocates for Affirmative Action may say, it is time for a change. There are a few alternatives for Affirmative Action, alternatives that can help develop a system that answers the some of the questions surrounding the issues of equal opportunities in work, education and job promotions. Solutions like making changes in student admissions to allow more low-income students to attend. Another would be boosting financial aid. Finally, administering better recruiting and support systems for low income students to retain and help those struggling with tuition. These are just a few but certainly not all the alternatives that could possibly give students more equal chances to have success in education admissions, which will in turn increase job opportunities and promotions within those jobs. These alternatives have already been in use and have proved the race and gender-neutral systems can replace old the older policies that no longer deliver.

Student admissions that facilitate students from low income homes have been battle tested in schools and universities. Plans such as the Texas ten percent plan who examine the students in low income district and take the top ten percent of that graduating class and admit them into the school of their choice. (Citation) This is a system that could be a replacement for Affirmative Action, giving precedence to socioeconomics rather than race alone. Students that didn’t have equal opportunities in education, extracurricular activities out side of school, and home living situations but still had success despite these hardships a leg up to be admitted into college.

Another alternative that has been applied to certain colleges in Nebraska calls for a boost in financial aid for students. This program has help many students who find themselves balancing having to much family income to be considered for Pell Grants or other financial aid while at the same time not being able to have college tuition as an affordable option. The president of Nebraska university told the student residents of Nebraska that if they could meet all the requirement for the college admission system that they would be eligible for financial aid and pay no tuition for the undergrad programs. By requiring students to meet certain requirements whether that be GPA while attending they can monitor those that still qualify for these grants and those who do not. Universities of Nebraska is attempting to close the gap for those that think that college is out of reach because of financial circumstances. In the 2008-2009 year 4300 students were admitted into Nebraska University and received more that 3.5 million dollars to assist those students through the Collegebound Nebraska program. A policy like this could help bring equality to a certain extent into the Education system. Although there are some flaws in this system it is a step in the right direction. (Citation)

Implementing Socioeconomic-Based Solutions for Equality

One more alternative that has shown a lot of promise in the quest for equal opportunity is low income student recruiting and support systems such as the “American Talent Initiative” which spend a lot of the efforts reaching out to first generation and students who come from low income families. Thirty colleges and universities decided that they would make a greater effort in recruiting and admitting students with financial needs into their schools. They stated that one of the goals of the ATI was to “enroll an additional 50,000 such students at 270 selective colleges and universities by 2025.” Students that are talented and capable across the country are going to be given opportunities, otherwise lost to them, to go to college all across the country because of this group of people who will give them support. This will not only help these communities but also bring about a great change for diversity in race, gender, culture to the universities and colleges that join the “American Talent Initiative”.(citation)

Work Cited

  1. “Americans with a College Degree 1940-2017, by Gender.” Statista,
  2. “Applicants and Matriculants Data - FACTS: Applicants, Matriculants, Enrollment, Graduates, MD/PhD, and Residency Applicants Data - Data and Analysis - AAMC.” Association of American Medical Colleges,
  3. Anderson, Nick. “Selective Colleges Pledge to Recruit More Low-Income Students.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 13 Dec. 2016,
  4. Bautsch, Brenda, and Suzanne Hultin. Affirmative Action | Overview,
  5. Collegebound Nebraska Makes College More Affordable for More Nebraskans. 2008,
  6. Daughtery, Lindsay, et al. “The Texas Ten Percent Plan's Impact on College Enrollment.” Education Next, 3 Mar. 2016,
  7. Intern. “The Future of Affirmative Action.” Boston Review, 11 Apr. 2019,
  8. Potter, Halley. “Affirmative Action Alternatives.” The Century Foundation, 5 Oct. 2016,
  9. “Texas Medical School Will No Longer Consider Race In Admissions Decisions As Part Of Deal With Education Department.” Kaiser Health News, 10 Apr. 2019,
  10. “The NCES Fast Facts Tool Provides Quick Answers to Many Education Questions (National Center for Education Statistics).” National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a Part of the U.S. Department of Education,
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Affirmative Action: Alternatives For Systems Of Equality. (2021, August 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 22, 2024, from
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