Paper Summary

Direct link:

Race-Conscious and Unconscious Holistic Admissions: Racialized Organizations Managing Selective College Access

Mon, April 12, 4:30 to 6:00pm EDT (4:30 to 6:00pm EDT), Division J, Division J - Section 3 Paper and Symposium Sessions


This constructivist grounded theory study sheds light on race-conscious holistic admissions work. We present an analysis of 51 individual interviews of professionals with experiences working in admissions offices that use race-conscious holistic practices to admit less than 35% of applicants. Applying Ray’s theory of racialized organizations, our analysis contrasted admissions professionals’ beliefs that their practices advanced racial diversity and equity with how their work produced color-evasive racism. Preliminary findings reveal how organizational structures in enrollment management reproduce racial inequalities through the maintenance of white dominance in selective college access. Less robust holistic (and questionable) practices accounting for race were more present at institutions with lower selectivity and yield rates. Our study bears implications for organizational learning and race-conscious admissions debates.