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The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court’s decision on race-conscious admissions ends a forty-year precedent that has guided admission practice in higher education and led to more racially diverse student enrollment. It is unclear at this point how this ruling may impact independent school admission policies. We anticipate that NYSAIS and NAIS, Brearley’s state-accrediting body and national association, respectively, will offer guidance in coming weeks. What we do know is that the Court’s ruling will not alter our institutional priorities, which the School affirmed in its recently updated mission statement and strategic vision. Indeed, our plan, Stepping Through the Open Door, commits to refining and enhancing our recruitment of talented students within underrepresented communities to increase accessibility to a Brearley education. As always, we will be guided by our core values: purpose, integrity, excellence, courage, empathy and inclusion. 

As a former dean of admission, I was interested to read that the Court also ruled that colleges and universities may consider in admission decisions “an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.” Having read thousands of applications, I’m not sure it would be possible to separate a student’s race from his or her application in all instances, particularly applicants who, by describing their interests, activities and family history, often refer to their racial background. I have no doubt Brearley’s admission process and those of the colleges to which our students apply will continue to provide opportunities to share individual stories of growth, achievement, disappointment, adaptability and resilience, as well as the roles race and other aspects of identity have played in those experiences. It may be no surprise that Brearley students have always written lively and compelling personal essays as part of the college process, but over the last few years we have learned from these institutions that our students also excel in sharing how their backgrounds and leadership experiences in Brearley’s diverse community will enable them to positively impact their college communities.    

Our history as a school for girls informs our understanding, past and present, of the inequities that exist in society. Our legacy tells us that we must face these challenges head on. Our practice in school, where Brearley students frequently initiate discussions about race in classes, advisory and affinity spaces, shows us that these conversations help them to understand the experiences of their peers and to build community. It is our mission to teach our students to advocate for themselves and others. I believe that a diverse community provides the optimal classroom for them to develop these skills and a lifelong commitment to the greater good.   

Our mission calls us to challenge girls of adventurous intellect and diverse backgrounds to think critically and creatively and to act with courage and integrity. Our students from Kindergarten to Class XII each have a story to share and dreams to fulfill. For those with us now and for the students who join us in the future, we will help you tell your many stories and help you fulfill your dreams, just as you will help Brearley deliver on the promise of its mission for all students. 

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