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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Ivy dreams, but what's realistic?

"Safe to say Harvard is out," Demar Goodman, who's black, told a friend when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected race-based college admissions. He gave up on Harvard, but plans to apply to Cornell.

Cole Clemmons, who's white, dreams of Columbia, and decided to add Dartmouth and Harvard to his college list.

Photo: George Pak/Pexels

Washington Post reporter Hannah Natanson looks at how the affirmative action decision affected the aspirations of two high school seniors, one from a working-class family in Georgia and the other from a middle-class family in Tennessee.

Both students are hard-working and ambitious. Goodman earns A's and B's at an "underserved" school, and has an ACT score at the 85th percentile (probably a 27), while Clemmons is an A student with a perfect 36 and a National Merit scholar.

On the flip side, Goodman did well despite growing up in a low-income neighborhood with low-performing schools. He participates in a non-profit mentoring program.

Clemmons' parents sacrificed to live in an upscale town with excellent schools, and paid for a former teacher to help him with his college essays.

Goodman, who wants a career in politics, is very interested in District of Columbia schools such as Howard, George Washington University and American University. I'd bet he gets into all three. The key will be financial aid.

Would he do better if he gets into Cornell? Maybe. Prestige isn't chopped liver. But he seems destined for success.

Clemmons, who plans to major in environmental science or international relations, also seems destined for success. Financial aid is important to him as well.

Goodman decided not to mention his race in his Common App essay, writes Natanson. Instead, he wrote about his collection of flag-lapel pins, which represent his passion for politics and for America. "I don’t see the country the flag represents today, I see the country the flag should represent,” he wrote.

Clemmons responded to a University of Michigan prompt on "one of the communities to which you belong" by writing about being raised “on Southern ideals” but later pushing friends and family to consider “diverse viewpoints,” writes Natanson.

His passion for diversity is real, he told the reporter. But he guesses many white teens will be "saying the same thing."

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