The panel debate heated up when Trevor Burrus, research fellow at the Cato Institute, said institutions that employ affirmative action plans generally accept candidates who may not be prepared for college. Many in the audience, which included several Harvard alumni, grumbled, and the other panel members disagreed.
“No institution wants to admit students who cannot keep up in their classes,” said Greg Grauman, director of admissions at American University. He said the admissions process is mostly about test scores and grades, but merit and a holistic review process—including race, socioeconomic status, and extracurricular activities—are important too. Shirley Wilcher, executive director of the American Association for Affirmative Action, also added that the most selective schools report the lowest minority dropout rates.