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"Race" in College Applications FAQ & Discussion 12

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Replies to: "Race" in College Applications FAQ & Discussion 12

  • ChangeTheGameChangeTheGame Registered User Posts: 597 Member
    edited February 9
    @OHMomof2 Thank you for giving what you would look for to make AA obsolete. I agree with @ucbalumnus that elite schools are looking for the “right mix” that makes their schools most attractive to the largest group of students. That mix probably doesn’t include hitting National demographics by race of high school graduates and may never get there. Going to a demographic mix would be discriminatory against several groups as the racial groups are not at the same levels academically and it would cause a “lowering of the bar” pretty quickly as you go down the elite institution food chain.

    I think looking at this from an AP exam level may help some as AP classes are an approximation of college level work. The data below is from about 5 years ago and shows the demographic breakdown of high school students, the percentage of total students who take an AP exam, and the percentage of total exam takers that make a 3 or higher on the exam. For example, 4.6% of AP test takers who got a 3 or higher on at least 1 AP exam was a Black student.

    _______________% HS_________Take AP ex.______3 or higher
    American Indian___1.0%_________0.6%____________0.5%
    Asian____________5.9%________10.7%___________12.7%
    Black____________14.5%________9.2%____________4.6%
    Latino___________18.9%________18.8%___________16.9%
    White____________58.3%_______ 55.9%___________61.3%

    There could be many reasons (lack of access, avoidance of AP exams, or lack of money to pay for AP exams) that generate the numbers above for African American students. So I also took a look at the racial breakdown of actual scores on AP exams and those scores trended much lower for African American students in general and became even more pronounced when looking at what are considered to be harder level AP courses. For African Americans at least, the data points to not competing at the same level (lower level classes and lower scores on AP exams) in high school which makes it very difficult to make the jump up to elite level schools. Latino students are closer in every metric I saw and look to be closing the gaps which is a great sign. I have been in a couple of classes that overwhelmed me (I still hate Physical Chemistry and Electricity and Magnetism which I dropped), and I just don’t like the thought of putting kids in that position at the college level.

  • lloyddobler85lloyddobler85 Registered User Posts: 16 Junior Member
    @damon30 The outcomes of the 3 boys early admissions decisions to Penn and Princeton in the HBO special didn't come as a surprise but the story did humanize this discussion. If the outcomes were different, I think there would have been a completely different visceral reaction to the story. Reposting the link to the HBO report for those who may have missed it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=746jJ9jzNlQ

  • hebegebehebegebe Registered User Posts: 2,467 Senior Member
    I watched this video. To me it was clear that Ryan Henry, the black student who applied and was accepted to Princeton, was the most talented of the three. He was in the running for the school Val, which was not mentioned for the others, and had research published through MIT, and was an officer in one or more clubs. This was not an Affirmative Action admit. This was a pure talent admit.
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,385 Senior Member
    edited February 9
    ^ Honestly, I wasn't particularly impressed by the academic achievements listed for any of the kids in the video, in the context of the tippiest-top of colleges. Glen Ridge HS doesn't have a large concentration of top performers, and all I really heard as for achievements was top 5% (no big deal in my book for Ivies at a school like that) and an assortment of largely school-specific leadership roles in typical ECs (honors societies, math and physics clubs that don't win anything, tutoring, etc.) One of the kids was an EMT - frankly that was the most impressive thing I heard.

    Numbers of NMSF at a school are not the be-all and end-all of how strong the student body is, but imo are a useful guide. There was only one NMSF student at Glen Ridge for 2019 (one of the kids profiled). You can get a rough gauge of where the school falls by comparing all schools in NJ in the 2019 numbers here: https://www.scribd.com/document/388548175/National-Merit-Scholarship-Program-semifinalists-named-for-2019

    Bottom line, this isn't Stuyvesant, TJ, Bronx Science, Hunter College High School, HTHS or really anything like a strong magnet school. Or even a very strong open admission suburban school (e.g., Princeton HS on that list). Top 5% for HYP? Nah. Maybe the valedictorian. If you have a hook.
  • ChangeTheGameChangeTheGame Registered User Posts: 597 Member
    @hebegebe I agree that he was an awesome candidate for admission, but it there will always be those that doubt the black student's accomplishments. The worst part for me is to see the look on his face as his friends did not have the same results and to know that he will not be able to enjoy the accomplishment past that initial burst of happiness.
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,385 Senior Member
    edited February 9
    No doubt the black student was strong. Perhaps the strongest of the three. What I am focused on is the difference between how affirmative action is sold - an implied boost for kids who have faced significant hardships - and the reality.

    Take a look at the houses the kids live in. And if you know Glen Ridge, you know this is not the inner city. Nice houses, intact families, safe neighborhoods. No one is overcoming anything here. This is about as privileged as you can get.
  • Data10Data10 Registered User Posts: 2,698 Senior Member
    edited February 9
    To me it was clear that Ryan Henry, the black student who applied and was accepted to Princeton, was the most talented of the three. He was in the running for the school Val, which was not mentioned for the others, and had research published through MIT, and was an officer in one or more clubs. This was not an Affirmative Action admit. This was a pure talent admit.
    A vague notion of class rank and listing a few sentences about ECs is far too little information to estimate chance of admission. I have no idea who was the strongest applicant of the 3, and whether the admission decisions would have changed without racial preferences. I suspect that the student selection and corresponding admission decisions were contrived for television, such as following >3 students who were selected based on a combination of criteria beyond rank/race, then only airing a specific selection of those were followed.
  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk Registered User Posts: 2,059 Senior Member
    "To me it was clear that Ryan Henry, the black student who applied and was accepted to Princeton, was the most talented of the three. He was in the running for the school Val, which was not mentioned for the others, and had research published through MIT, and was an officer in one or more clubs."

    It was not clear at all, the report I think wanted to track students with similar profiles with only race separating them. There's no way to determine if val meant something because if they don't weigh classes than an A in a college prep class is the same as a A in an AP class. And presidents and vice presidents of clubs and honor societies are a dime a dozen at places like Princeton and Penn. An elected officer, or a national, international award would mean a lot more, but we didn't see any of the applicants mention them, but of course we don't know their full application including essays and recommendations.

    "And if you know Glen Ridge, you know this is not the inner city. Nice houses, intact families, safe neighborhood"

    I grew up in good ole NJ, and it's basically a binary state, there are really good places and really bad places. Yeah there's some middle class cities, but you have Hoboken and you have Upper Saddle River. So I googled average income and Glen Ridge is $170K, Upper Saddle River, $250K. That's bay area, Florida keys kind of wealth.

    It should be obvious in these days of soft quotas (legal), blacks are compared to other blacks, Asians compared to other Asians. Changethegame also mentioned many times the problem of young black men in today's society, and the difference between black men and women wrt academics, i.e. women do much better. So a black male from an affluent suburb who's a valedictorian is gold to place like Princeton, pure gold.

    "This was not an Affirmative Action admit. This was a pure talent admit."

    Can't you be both, he got in because he was talented and black? imo, that was one of the messages in the piece.
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,385 Senior Member
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,401 Senior Member
    I grew up in good ole NJ, and it's basically a binary state, there are really good places and really bad places. Yeah there's some middle class cities, but you have Hoboken and you have Upper Saddle River. So I googled average income and Glen Ridge is $170K, Upper Saddle River, $250K. That's bay area, Florida keys kind of wealth.

    https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/hillsboroughtowncalifornia,losaltoshillstowncalifornia,piedmontcitycalifornia,athertontowncalifornia,glenridgeboroughnewjersey/PST045218 indicates that there are not too many places in the San Francisco bay area that have higher incomes than Glen Ridge, NJ.

    Glen Ridge, NJ does have much less expensive housing, though.
  • hebegebehebegebe Registered User Posts: 2,467 Senior Member
    edited February 9
    Honestly, I wasn't particularly impressed by the academic achievements listed for any of the kids in the video, in the context of the tippiest-top of colleges.
    It was not clear at all, the report I think wanted to track students with similar profiles with only race separating them.
    A vague notion of class rank and listing a few sentences about ECs is far too little information to estimate chance of admission.
    I was focusing more on the "research published at MIT" part. So doing a quick search on "ryan henry mit", I saw the following link the on the first page of search results: ieee.scripts.mit.edu/conference/2018AcceptedPapers.pdf

    And in there, Ryan Henry is listed as a co-author on an accepted paper titled "Synthesis and Characterization of Simplified Nuclear Waste Glasses Containing Molybdenum", and his affiliation is listed as the The New Jersey Governor's School of Engineering & Technology, a summer program, so given the name, timing and location, that's a pretty good chance that's him.

    Most of the other accepted papers there were from college students, so it is a strong level of scholarship for high school students. While this is certainly below the level of a paper published in an academic journal, this is the level of accomplishment I typically see for science students of all races that are accepted at places like Princeton et al.
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,385 Senior Member
    edited February 9
    ^ Here's the paper: https://soe.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/imce/pdfs/gset-2018/Synthesis and Characterization of Nuclear Waste Glass Containing Molybdenum.pdf

    Yeah, that is something for sure. Co-author out of a summer program that is not very easy to get into. I really can't opine on the substance, but it looks like the kids had access to some fun equipment at Rutgers!

    The Governor's School summer program gives a boost to "diverse" economic backgrounds:
    The programs are open to students from diverse economic backgrounds.
    https://www.nj.gov/govschool/

    I'm not sure that Glen Ridge qualifies as "diverse" though ;)
  • hebegebehebegebe Registered User Posts: 2,467 Senior Member
    edited February 9
    Each school gets to submit one applicant, and one additional applicant for every 325 juniors. So places like Glen Ridge cannot monopolize the applicant pool. And of these applicants from all over the state, about 20 percent get admitted.
  • Data10Data10 Registered User Posts: 2,698 Senior Member
    edited February 9
    While it's an impressive paper and EC, it's still far too little information to estimate chances. For example, does his transcript suggest he excels in the field that he plans to study at Princeton, and took the most rigorous classes available to him in that field? How were his test scores? His LORs? His essays? His interview? How were the ECs/awards that he worked towards all year long , beyond a one time shared paper with many other co-authors, and how do they fit with his planned field of study? Does he have any additional hooks/tips/connections beyond race? Does his full application suggest he will be successful at Princeton both in and out of the classroom, and beyond?

    I interviewed for a HYPSM school and have spoken with several students who did a similar level of published research. Most times they were obviously passionate the research, drawing diagrams on my notepad, and acted like they could have talked all day about it. However, I've also interviewed persons whose research had nothing to do with their planned field of study, and appeared to be unable to provide much detail beyond a 10,000 foot overview. It's difficult to make assumptions without more information.
  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk Registered User Posts: 2,059 Senior Member
    "listed as a co-author on an accepted paper"

    Ok, there are six other authors, three other high school students, you make it sound like it was just one other person, we have no idea of who contributed how much, since the they're listed alphabetically.

    "this is the level of accomplishment I typically see for science students of all races that are accepted at places like Princeton et al."

    All races? Not true, an Asian or white with that research is not getting into Princeton early, they'll be deferred, now they may get in RD. If he had turned this into a intel science fair winner or finalist or science olympiad medalist, that would be significant, then you have the attention of MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Cal Tech - where the top 500 or 1000 best STEM students apply. His name was on a paper, good enough for Princeton, but MIT would figure out how much he contributed relative to his peers.

This discussion has been closed.