This summer the Supreme Court ruled in an ideologically split decision that colleges could no longer use race-based affirmative action when weighing applicants. A majority of the justices found that race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.
The ruling upended the world of college applications, sending admissions counselors, teachers, parents and students scrambling to understand what the history-making decision meant, on a personal and practical level, for them. No one Googled, questioned and second-guessed more than this year’s crop of incoming high school seniors — seniors like Demar Goodman in Atlanta and, 400 miles west of him in Tennessee, 17-year-old Cole Clemmons.
They both wrestled with feelings of relief, guilt and inadequacy after the Supreme Court remade college admissions.
This story is part of a series called Deep Reads, which features The Washington Post’s best immersive reporting and narrative writing. Read more about Demar and Cole’s journeys by tapping the link in our bio.
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