The Supreme Court Strikes Down Affirmative Action: 3 Questions with Dean of College Counseling Bob Hurley

In June 2023, the United States Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions. This decision puts an end to race-conscious admissions programs at colleges and universities.

Institutions of higher education across the country can no longer consider race as one of many factors during their admissions processes.

The Supreme Court Decision and Parker

Every year, our Upper School students work diligently with our college counselors to prepare for the admissions process and to submit their applications to their chosen schools.  

Understandably, many members of our community have wanted to know how the Supreme Court decision will affect the college counseling process at Parker. We sat down with Bob Hurley, Dean of College Counseling, to better understand what, if any, changes will be made in light of the decision. 

Answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question 1: How will the Supreme Court Decision affect the college counseling process at Parker?

Bob: We are not anticipating that the counseling practice will change dramatically. While we will remain very interested in observing any potential shifts employed by the colleges in their recruitment and evaluation efforts, our work with the students has and will continue to dig far beneath the surface of any checkbox on an application.  

When we work with students, we do not jump in looking for names of colleges. Rather, the college search begins by having the students look inward.It is through self-reflection that they arrive at an understanding of their upbringing, experiences, and values which allows them to look ahead and plot their educational goals. 

“Our work with the students has and will continue to dig far beneath the surface of any checkbox on an application.”

– Bob Hurley
Dean of College Counseling at Parker

At Parker, researching college offerings is secondary to the time our students spend recognizing their own strengths and character.

Question 2: What has been the widespread reaction among college counselors about the decision?

My colleagues on the high school side of this process are, for the most part, in agreement with the majority of our colleagues on the college side. We believe that the Supreme Court decision was misguided and potentially harmful to the inclusion of differing perspectives and lived experiences on the college campus.

Most colleges that have long valued the benefits sustained through Affirmative Action have reached out to the high school sector over the past month, reiterating their goal of welcoming and supporting a student community from a myriad of backgrounds and ideologies. While that goal goes unchanged at the colleges that utilize a holistic review of applications, the manner in which they go about their processes is particular to each school and, in large part, still to be determined.

“These schools will still recognize the profound talents and perspectives our students will bring to the table.”

– Bob Hurley
Dean of College Counseling at Parker

Question 3: How will this decision affect the competitiveness of some schools?

At this point, I do not think that the overall competitiveness will change noticeably at a school due to the Supreme Court’s decision. We have come to expect a highly selective process at many of the colleges our Parker students consider from year to year. That will undoubtedly remain the case. 

I am more invested in making certain that our high school students remain interested and pursue schools where they believe they can thrive.

The removal of an Affirmative Action policy has not altered the values of the colleges themselves. They still appreciate the benefits of a campus community that can draw from the diverse experiences and views of its students. These schools will still recognize the profound talents and perspectives our students will bring to the table.

The Future of College Counseling at Parker 

Despite the Supreme Court’s decision, our college counseling team is sticking to the process that best supports the unique students at Parker. Our counselors are committed to helping each student find schools that match their interests and are places where they can thrive in the long run.