Revised Title: Reshaping Essay Requirements at Harvard in Response to Affirmative Action Ban

**Harvard College Revamps Essay Requirements Following Affirmative Action Ruling**

Harvard College, in response to a recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down affirmative action in college admissions, is making changes to its essay requirements for high school seniors. The new guidelines will replace the previous single optional essay with five questions that aim to understand how applicants’ life experiences, academic achievements, and extracurricular activities have shaped them, and to discover their aspirations for the future. This adjustment by Harvard College is indicative of the challenges faced by US college admissions offices as they navigate the delicate balance between promoting diversity and adhering to the ban on race-based admissions.

**Revised Essay Requirements at Harvard College**

Under the revised guidelines, all applicants to Harvard College will be required to answer a set of five questions that delve into various aspects of their personal and academic lives. These questions are designed to gauge the impact of their experiences and achievements on their growth and development as individuals. Additionally, applicants are encouraged to articulate their future goals and aspirations. This change seeks to create a more holistic evaluation process that takes into account the diverse qualities and potential contributions of each applicant.

**The Supreme Court’s Ruling and Its Implications**

In June, Chief Justice John Roberts delivered a ruling that permitted universities to consider an applicant’s perspective on how race influenced their life, as long as it directly related to a unique quality of character or ability that could benefit the university community. However, the ruling also cautioned against universities attempting to establish a regime that could be deemed unlawful. This ruling prompted Harvard College and the University of North Carolina, among others, to reassess their admission processes.

**Similar Changes in Other US Colleges**

Harvard College is not the only institution adjusting its approach to admissions. The University of Virginia is providing applicants with an opportunity to explain their backgrounds and how their experiences could contribute to the university. This initiative aims to give all students a chance to share their unique stories, including descendants of university staff and individuals with other relationships to the institution. Furthermore, Sarah Lawrence, a liberal arts college in New York, has incorporated Chief Justice Roberts’s words into an essay prompt, requesting applicants to reflect on how they believe the Supreme Court’s decision may influence their college education goals.

**Promoting Diversity Amid Affirmative Action Constraints**

US college admissions offices continue to face the complex task of promoting diversity while adhering to the ban on race-based admissions. The recent Supreme Court ruling has limited universities’ ability to directly consider race as a factor in admissions decisions. As a result, colleges are exploring alternative methods to foster diversity and ensure a vibrant student population. The shift towards a more comprehensive evaluation process, as exemplified by Harvard College, seeks to assess applicants based on a broader range of factors beyond race.


In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action, Harvard College has revamped its essay requirements for prospective students. The new guidelines will replace the optional essay with a set of five questions aimed at understanding applicants’ personal and academic experiences, as well as their future aspirations. This change reflects the challenges faced by US colleges in finding ways to promote diversity while complying with the ban on race-based admissions. Similar adjustments have been observed in other institutions, such as the University of Virginia and Sarah Lawrence. These changes seek to create a more inclusive and comprehensive evaluation process that considers the diverse qualities and potential contributions of each applicant.

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