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"Race" in College Applications FAQ & Discussion 12

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

  • Data10Data10 Registered User Posts: 2,699 Senior Member
    edited February 10
    "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
    Maybe they'll get in early, maybe they won't. It depends on far more than a research paper. For example, looking at the most recent Princeton SCEA decision thread on this site, a brief summary of the two Asian acceptances is below. Both accepted students had impressive ECs related to their prospective field of study, high stats, excelled in many additional sections of the application, and sounded like they'd be extremely successful in their proposed field of study. It's unclear whether the same could be said for any of the 3 students at Glen Ridge

    1. Prospective political science with regional debate awards and law office work, High stats, Low income and Questbridge scholar, Thinks essays were the strongest part of her application
    2. Propsective CS with lots of robotics experience (captain of coached team) and NASA internship ; High stats, Took external college classes in CS and math

  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,385 Senior Member
    edited February 10
    @ChangeTheGame wrote:
    An African American kid will have his accomplishments questioned no matter how qualified the student is.
    Very well, and succinctly said.

    This whole debate about Ryan Henry is helping me to think about my own biases, and where they lay. I think most of my gut feel reaction against affirmative action stems from the way it is sold by the elite institutions. Namely, that boosts are being given for overcoming significant obstacles or discrimination, and the attendant reinforcement of a narrative of "us" versus "them," the reinforcement of a narrative that every black student (and no other) is automatically "oppressed," both of which I think are very damaging messages for society - even if it may have some elements of truth.

    So, when I see an obviously very high SES - very "privileged" black student - gaining an acceptance, the contrast with how affirmative action is sold is too jarring. (It's not hard to find on CC either the constant equating affirmative action with a "the elite are here to rescue you" that is its own form of paternalistic condescension, noblesse oblige.) You're right, part of the assumption is that race played a huge role in Henry's admission decision. That's unfair both to the student as well as the whole process. I think @Data10 has a good take on it: we just don't know precisely how much - if at all - race played a role here, and I guess I personally have to be careful that I am not letting assumptions cloud my thinking. I still think for me this is mostly about my distrust of the motives of elite admissions policies. But thank you to all the posters for helping me to think about this more deeply in the context of whether my distrust of elite admissions priorities really is too much coloring my perception of the results.
    Part of that come from an educational system that has treated my African American son differently most steps of the way (Teacher not testing son for gifted program without our intervention, my very quiet and introverted child getting conduct demerits for frivolous infractions when I have personally observed other children being a distraction to class without a receiving a warning, and a seemingly lack of expectations for my child in comparison to other children).
    Schools are terrified of testing African American children. Testing was originally conceived as a way to help kids, a way of figuring out what works for which kids. When disparities showed up by race, anyone supporting it was demonized. They still are. It is actually illegal to ability test black children - and I think the law is still technically only applicable to black children - but in practice really no kids of any race are ability tested any longer in elementary school.

    People interested in this history should start with the Larry P. v. Riles case, available here: https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/495/926/2007878/. It's been 40 years, a lot of liberals feel very good about themselves - the "Self Congratulation of the Anointed" - but we have lost two generations' time now in trying to help poor kids in bad school districts, many of whom are African American, but now increasingly Hispanic. There has been plenty of commentary about Riles over the years; it's not hard to find.
    Now that my son has proven himself as a high standardized test taker at the high school level, I have noticed a change and the system has “flipped” to his advantage.
    CC does URM a huge disservice in the forums by constantly minimizing test scores and peddling nonsense like schools can fill their classes with perfect score candidates. Take a look at the accept rates by test scores (academic index) in the Harvard litigation. While test scores are not a huge distinguishing factor for other races, they make a huge difference for black applicants. High scores are instant credibility in my experience, and the data appear to support that. (I wonder if Ryan Henry had been the only kid at Glen Ridge High School to have gotten NMSF rather than the Asian kid, would anyone - myself included - have questioned his early acceptance?) I do think that message should get out there, namely that one of the biggest things URM can do to boost their chances at elite schools is to prep, prep and prep some more to ensure that their scores match their true potential.
  • 1NJParent1NJParent Registered User Posts: 842 Member
    Diversity shouldn't be about race or geography. It should be, most importantly, about perspectives. Colleges need people to look at problems from different perspectives, to contribute ideas to solve these problems from different perspectives, to advance human knowledge by challenging each other from different perspectives.

    Unfortunately, we humans often tend to look at things from our own perspective (bias?). If we're used to work with extremely gifted kids, we tend to use that high bar to measure other kids. If our kids didn't test well (or we didn't test well ourselves), we tend to think the tests aren't meaningful, or at least not as meaningful as other measures. Kids really need to learn, in colleges and beyond, how to overcome their own biases and how to always look at things from other perspectives.
  • collegemomjamcollegemomjam Registered User Posts: 1,756 Senior Member
    I hope it's ok to go off topic here to ask a very quick question to this extremely informed group.

    Does anyone happen to know if in the states like California and Michigan where it is now illegal for race to be considered in admission to the state schools (UCLA, UC Berkeley, U of Michigan, etc.), is it still illegal to consider the race of out of state applicants, or is that only for instate applicants? So could an African American applicant get a bump if they are an out of state applicant, even though an instate applicant of the same race would not get the bump?

    Thanks.
  • ChangeTheGameChangeTheGame Registered User Posts: 602 Member
    edited February 10
    @calmom I do believe that another excuse would be found if AA disappeared tomorrow and I read an article a while back on the one that would bother me the most (Article on the top UC's and the belief that AA was still being used even though it is illegal in California to use race in admission). Because I think I would snap if I was a student at UC Berkeley and someone told me the only reason I got in was because of my race.

    @SatchelSF I definitely made standardized test scores a priority in our household for the instant credibility (I was a nobody in high school until I took the PSAT as a junior) that they bring and I think people have believed my children to be worthy in that aspect, but I think there will always be some who believe that race is the deciding factor for URM applying to elite schools (It might be for my son who truly only stands out for his standardized test score and dedication for volunteering currently). I am not sure how much Carnegie Mellon SAMS acceptance or possibly getting into MITES and doing well would mean to his academic resume.

    @1NJParent I don't disagree with your premise at all, and I believe that we will get to that point one day. The issue is that the prejudices/biases (lack of women, perspective, racial, geographical, and SES diversity) of the past at elite institutions have affected the way that those campuses try and build their student body's today. But you are right that a perspective diversity should be valued over all in a perfect world.

    @collegemomjam From what I have read on the subject in the past, both California and Michigan state law forbids race and ethnicity to be considered in admissions decisions at state schools which affects the out of state applicants as well.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,421 Senior Member
    I do believe that another excuse would be found if AA disappeared tomorrow and I read an article a while back on the one that would bother me the most (Article on the top UC's and the belief that AA was still being used even though it is illegal in California to use race in admission).

    UCs now have a strong tip in favor of low SES or otherwise disadvantaged applicants who overcame obstacles. To the extent that the Latino and black students are overrepresented among that category, a superficial view may make it look like there is still race/ethnicity-based tipping, even though there are plenty of Asian and white applicants who get favorable looks from that.
    Because I think I would snap if I was a student at UC Berkeley and someone told me the only reason I got in was because of my race.

    Even at colleges where race/ethnicity is specifically not considered in college admissions, there are posters on these forums who continue to believe that it is considered. This applies both to those resenting such consideration, and those who believe that they will benefit from such consideration.
  • LadyMeowMeowLadyMeowMeow Registered User Posts: 273 Junior Member
    What was missing from the HBO piece was the perspective of an admissions officer describing the supply and demand of top applicants of different races & ethnicities. If you want diversity on your campus and there aren't many Ryan Henrys to go around, then of course you'll accept him. You can safely defer the other two because there are plenty of fish in the pool like them.
  • Data10Data10 Registered User Posts: 2,699 Senior Member
    edited February 10
    An African American kid will have his accomplishments questioned no matter how qualified the student is. If either of the other 2 students were accepted, there would be no question of those kids qualifications or any debate about the merit of the acceptance. It is one of the toughest parts of the debate about AA for me because a co-author of published research from MIT and possible high school valedictorian will have his credentials questioned because he is black.
    I believe my comments would have been similar regardless of which races were accepted. A good class rank without context and research paper is far too little information to predict admission chances.

    Also note that the race thread on a forum centered around highly selective college admissions is not a good representation of the full population or the typical student at highly selective colleges. I wouldn't assume that life at and after HYPSM... is going to be similar to posters in this thread. For example, in the wake of the lawsuit, the majority of all races of entering freshman at Harvard said they had a favorable view of racially-conscious affirmative action programs. The specific numbers were 6% of Black students had an unfavorable view, and 26% of Asian students had an unfavorable view. Senior survey numbers were similar.

    This fits with my personal experience at a highly selective college. We did have a few discussions about racial preferences in college admissions as part of our ideas and values type graduation requirement classes. There were a wide variety of opinions -- some favored different AA implementations and had different views of long term effects and effectiveness. However, the overwhelming majority appeared to have a favorable view. During my years at college, I did not see anyone saying a person was only admitted because of their race, although I expect many of such comments were done in private settings with less direct language. Among the few Black students in my EE major, I did not observe anyone assuming they were poorly qualified because of race, nor did I as a lab partner I'm sure it happened in some way, but I did not see it in public settings, as I did with certain other discriminatory issues. For example, someone ripped down a rainbow flag in my dorm, and I observed multiple negative LBGTQ comments in dorm discussions (in response to issues such as an unwanted kiss from same gender during full moon at the quad). Another time, some adult worker employers made a "Eurotrash" comment to me, even though I've been living in the US for many generations.

    After college, employers as a whole are not obsessed with where a student went to college and whether they got in on merit vs hook preferences. For example, In the survey at https://www.chronicle.com/items/biz/pdf/Employers Survey.pdf , hundreds of employers were asked to rate the relative importance of different factors in evaluating resumes for hiring new grads. Among all the surveyed factors, college reputation was ranked least important by employers. Among specific industries, college reputation was ranked least important in all surveyed industries except education and media/communications. The lack of emphasis on college attended and college admission hook preferences generally gets even smaller after being out of school for a few years. Again their are some specific fields that are exceptions, but those exceptions are not the rule.

    Again this fit with my personal experience. Working in engineering positions, it was my experience that persons were primarily judged based on skills and past history, rather than college name or whether they had hooks at that college name. For example, if you need someone who has skill x, you'd contact the person with skill x, regardless of their college name or whether they are Black/Asian. From what I've observed from others and heard from others at multiple companies, the group that faces the most discriminatory issues in my field is women, rather than members of a specific race. I expect this has little to do with college name and whether persons felt that gender gave them an edge in college admissions. Instead I expect it more relates to some displaying a boys club type attitude when working with all males and just 1 or 2 women.

  • 1NJParent1NJParent Registered User Posts: 842 Member
    ...in the wake of the lawsuit, the majority of all races of entering freshman at Harvard said they had a favorable view of racially-conscious affirmative action programs.
    How can you expect anything different? These students are, by definition, not an unbiased group. They either benefited from or were unaffected by the policy. The same applies to the other schools.
  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk Registered User Posts: 2,059 Senior Member
    "had a favorable view of racially-conscious affirmative action programs."

    It is interesting, from a quick perusal of the Gallup polls and Pew research articles, there is a favorable view of AA when it's asked generally. However when you get into specifics of college admission, it becomes unfavorable.

    From gallup.com -

    (in Fisher v. University of Texas ): "The Supreme Court recently ruled on a case that confirms that colleges can consider the race or ethnicity of students when making decisions on who to admit to the college. Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the Supreme Court's decision? The results: 31% approval and 65% disapproval, a sharp reversal from what the broad affirmative action results show.

    Further,

    "The public, at least without further explanation or rationale, simply doesn't like the idea of colleges taking race or ethnicity into account in admissions decisions. Admissions decisions, the public is in essence saying, should be blind to the race and ethnicity of the applicant."

    Another poll asked what should be considered in admission, majorities said that high school grades (73%) and scores on standardized tests (55%) should be major factors in college admissions, while 50% said that the types of courses the student took should be a major factor. Well less than half said any of the other six factors should be major considerations. This includes in particular race or ethnicity, which 9% of Americans believe should be a major factor, 27% a minor factor and 63% not a factor at all in college admissions."

    Definitely not an easy topic as this thread as shown!


  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk Registered User Posts: 2,059 Senior Member
    edited February 10
    "You're right, part of the assumption is that race played a huge role in Henry's admission decision. That's unfair both to the student as well as the whole process. I think @Data10 has a good take on it: we just don't know precisely how much - if at all - race played a role here,"

    Yeah but Vice showed this because race did play a role, that's why they picked these kids and followed it all the way through, three non-white males, all in the top ten of the class with similar profiles, so no difference on gender, geography, upbringing. They probably don't show it if all the kids got the same result, imo. We don't know how big a role it played, agree there.

    Put another way, was anyone surprised at the decisions? I was not surprised at Ryan getting in, in fact would have been shocked if he didn't get in. I was slightly surprised by the kid that got deferred at Penn, since he didn't apply to the Princeton where the other two did, and there's a correlation (not causation) between NMSF and selective college acceptance.

    "I still think for me this is mostly about my distrust of the motives of elite admissions policies."

    Individually adcoms are just like us, but as a group in a university, should not be trusted. If Harvard is found guilty, then they have practiced some form of discrimination and racism. Does that mean the individual adcoms are racist, probably not.
  • Data10Data10 Registered User Posts: 2,699 Senior Member
    edited February 10
    How can you expect anything different? These students are, by definition, not an unbiased group. They either benefited from or were unaffected by the policy. The same applies to the other schools.
    However, that's the group that URM students predominantly spend time with at highly selective colleges -- the ones who were successful under the current admissions policy. Students who blame AA admissions policies for their rejection may be more likely to make unpleasant comments to URMs related to questioning admission qualifications, but those students are not in classes and dorms.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,340 Senior Member
    @SatchelSF
    You're right, part of the assumption is that race played a huge role in Henry's admission decision. That's unfair both to the student as well as the whole process.

    I think in for the students profiled in the HBO report, race played a small part in Ryan Henry's admission. Keep in mind that none of the kids were rejected -- Henry, who was in line for class valedictorian, was accepted EA at Princeton, whereas Chen was deferred - and he and his parents were absolutely delighted that it wasn't a rejection. (The other kid had applied to Penn, so essentially irrelevant -- different schools have different priorities).

    I think that the deferral means that both students were qualified for admission. So no need for AA -- Henry wasn't some marginal candidate who needed an admissions boost.

    But the difference between EA admission and deferral to the RD round depends on what each candidate brings to the college. I think that Henry ticked off more boxes -- he had the class standing box, the STEM achievement box -- and he also had the race box, enhanced by the combination of African American + high achieving in STEM. (So that's a little unusual --- URM's and women are particularly underrepresented in STEM fields).

    Here's an article from the NYT by a Korean-American student who feels that she got an admissions boost years ago to Berkeley, when her GPA & test scores seemingly fell short, because of her desire to be an English major. See https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/09/opinion/sunday/im-asian-american-affirmative-action-worked-for-me.html

    In other words, Henry didn't get accepted because he was African-American -- he was accepted because of all the ands in his application. He was a likely class valedictorian and he was a high-achieving STEM major and he was African-American. Maybe some white kid from Montana with similar credentials gets in because his particular and factor adds to geographic diversity.

    And Henry's acceptance actually diminishes the need for the college to use AA to accept any marginal candidates -- students who wouldn't make the cut but for their URM status --- because if they accept more high achievers who fill diversity goals during the EA round, then they have more flexibility in the RD round.

    That's not to say that the college shouldn't also properly use its resources to benefit lower SES students who truly need a boost -- just that they don't have to tie race to the SES boost criteria.
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