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Majority of Americans believe merit should determine college admissions status

college degree booksAmericans still largely believe that students should be accepted to college based on merit and not their race, according to a new Gallup study.

In the poll, which was released Wednesday, 67 percent of U.S. adults said that merit should be the universities’ primary deciding factor on admitting students as opposed to the 28 percent who felt that race should be considered. These numbers remained fairly consistent with a Rasmussen Reports study from earlier in the summer in which 60 percent of American adults polled believe that merit should outweigh race in the college admissions process.

Seven in ten Americans who consider themselves to be Independent and 53 percent of Democrats also support prioritizing merit over race in the admissions process.

That doesn’t mean that Americans are completely on board with getting rid of affirmative action policies at the college level. The poll found that 58 percent of adults favor affirmative action programs for racial minorities compared to the 37 percent who oppose the programs.

Unsurprisingly, support for affirmative action is strongest among minority groups. Three in four African-Americans and 69 percent of Hispanics favor the programs, compared to only 51 percent of Caucasians.

While the Supreme Court avoided ruling on affirmative action by sending the case back down to the lower courts, the poll suggests that the issue of affirmative action still has a long ways to go.

“The recent University of Texas case suggests the issue is far from settled, and individuals denied admission may continue to go to court to challenge admissions procedures at other schools to see if their programs appropriately balance equal protection under the law versus achieving the goals of a diverse student body and helping raise the economic position of minorities,” the poll said.

Gallup surveyed 4,373 adults nationwide between June 13 – July 5, 2013. The study had a margin of error of +/- two percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.

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