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"Race" in College Applications FAQ & Discussion 12

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

  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 12,619 Senior Member
    ...the overall admitted class had a mean SAT subscore of slightly over 740 (start of ~99th percentile), while African American admits had a mean of slightly under 720 (start of ~98th percentile).

    Yes, we should all be very concerned about those unprepared, mismatched admits. (where did the eyeroll smiley go?)
  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk Registered User Posts: 2,219 Senior Member
    edited April 18
    The issue is not unprepared, unqualified admits but the systematic discrimination against Asians where they are limited because of their race, compared to each other, and need higher scores/gpa, stronger interviews, ECs to get in. Harvard has been using soft quotas for a while now, it will be up to the judge or supreme court to figure out if it has used hard quotas.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 12,619 Senior Member
    I agree @theloniusmonk that a system of discrimination against Asian applicants is a bad thing that needs to stop, if it is happening.

    Separate issue from AA though.
  • wyzragamerwyzragamer Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    AA is the cover that’s used to justify the discrimination, though, so it’s not a separate issue.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 12,619 Senior Member
    How so @wyzragamer ? What's come out at Harvard with the personality rating etc has nothing to do with AA.
  • wyzragamerwyzragamer Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    It gives them plausible deniability for the discrimination.

    Under AA it is vaguely legal to do some kind of racial balancing. You could imagine that if there were a federal law against AA like California Prop 209, the data in admissions disparity that SFFA found would surely be a smoking gun in violation of anti discrimination laws. Most schools which proudly practice AA have much lower Asian percentages than comparable caliber schools which don’t, so that points to the conclusion not just a Harvard specific problem but rather AA in general.

    AA also allows schools to achieve “racial diversity” without getting rid of programs that go a long way towards limiting it, like legacy admissions.
  • havesomehearthavesomeheart Registered User Posts: 25 Junior Member
    The Arcidiacono report states that the mean SAT score (across all sections) from the year 2000 to 2017 for African-American admits was 704, whereas it was 767 for Asian-Americans (looking at the scores for many consecutive years rather than just one year paints a fuller picture of what actually happened historically). Hence out of 1600, this would be 1408 vs 1534. These are mean scores so this indicates that a large percentile of African-american admits (>25%) had scores in the 1300s. The SAT is not that demanding of a test. I would argue that a cohort with SATs in the 1300s (out of 1600) would indeed be relatively unprepared (and a bit mismatched) especially for Ivy league math, physics, engineering courses. Of course this does not mean that you couldn’t catch up if you were willing to put in the hard work and you had a great support system. But for perhaps up to 25% of african-american students, I think a mismatch might have been palpable. Hence the much better records of HBCs (compared with ivy league schools) for generating african-american scientists and doctors as @changethegame had noted earlier in this thread. Is ~25% of a cohort large enough to be concerned about mismatched admits? Perhaps not, and if so, feel free to eyeroll away.
  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger Registered User Posts: 2,760 Senior Member
    @OHMomof2
    I agree @theloniusmonk that a system of discrimination against Asian applicants is a bad thing that needs to stop, if it is happening.

    Separate issue from AA though.

    It’s not a separate issue at all. The SFFA isn’t taking this case only to affect Harvard.

  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 12,619 Senior Member
    If Asian Americans are being discriminated against in the way black and Hispanic and female students were at one time, then it's wrong and it needs to stop.

    That does not negate the need for affirmative action for those who were and are discriminated against.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 12,619 Senior Member
    I would argue that a cohort with SATs in the 1300s (out of 1600) would indeed be relatively unprepared (and a bit mismatched) especially for Ivy league math, physics, engineering courses.

    Go ahead and argue that, but IMO it has very little impact.

    1408 is still higher than 94th percentile. As the mean, there will be higher and lower scores, both. Not sure why you focus on the low. But even the low is 87th %ile.
  • wyzragamerwyzragamer Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    edited April 18
    If Asian Americans are being discriminated against in the way black and Hispanic and female students were at one time, then it's wrong and it needs to stop.

    That does not negate the need for affirmative action for those who were and are discriminated against.

    I believe Asian Americans have suffered at least as much discrimination in this country as Hispanics, as a group, but no one is rushing to give them any benefits. In fact, well-intentioned people are calling to defend the side that's discriminating against them in the name of affirmative action.

    Even nominally, affirmative action is meant to address diversity and not to correct for discrimination. But, as someone who works in the university, I suspect the true reason behind today's version of affirmative action is a lot more sinister even than that.

    It's long been an open secret that wealthy families can contribute to a school to curry favor with admissions officials. But major research universities, even public schools, receive a lot of private funding from sources that they don't have to disclose. For example, MIT recently had a discussion about whether to continue to accept funding from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With all of the moneyed special interest groups lobbying for certain segments of the population, it's not that big of a stretch to say that those groups could be applying inappropriate pressure on universities to maintain quotas of their constituencies, without any public disclosure.

    It makes sense then that the size of the preference for minority groups roughly lines up according to their political power in this country. The exception is whites, who---because they can't justify increased admissions by affirmative action, and because there generally aren't organizations representing their special interests---use other tactics instead, including legacy admissions, the Asian discrimination, "Z-list", athletics, and the central place of the Greek system.

    It might sound like a conspiracy, but if you think about how everyone's motivations line up, it makes more sense than the stories we've been fed about social justice and diversity. Hardly any university tracks what happens to the URM students when they arrive on campus. There are far more resources devoted to recruiting them than there are for ensuring their academic success. In my department, affirmative action hiring decisions are checked and enforced by the office of the president, by people without the right scientific expertise to evaluate. If you think about how even public schools are ratcheting up the number of full-pay international students every year, it's clear that MONEY is the main driver behind higher education (as with all industries) and this has something strong to do with AA.
  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger Registered User Posts: 2,760 Senior Member
    @OHMomof2

    Here's a quote from a SFFA legal motion:
    What Harvard will not admit—but what the record shows—is that race is not only an important factor, it is the dominant consideration in admitting Hispanics and African Americans. An Asian-American applicant with a 25% chance of admission, for example, would have a 35% chance if he were white, a 75% chance if he were Hispanic, and a 95% chance if he were African American. Harvard understands that, under Supreme Court precedent, racial preferences must be time-limited and can be no more than a “plus” factor in admissions. It just does not seem to care.

    The SFFA lawsuit is not only about whether Harvard discriminates against Asians relative to non-Hispanic whites, but whether African Americans and Hispanics receive an admissions boost over Asians.
  • wyzragamerwyzragamer Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    The SFFA lawsuit is not only about whether Harvard discriminates against Asians relative to non-Hispanic whites, but whether African Americans and Hispanics receive an admissions boost over Asians.

    Well, even under current affirmative action guidelines there are strong limits on the use of race. So the lawsuit is suggesting that Harvard's current considerations fall outside the acceptable limits (although the Asian discrimination is the main line of attack, as these arguments did not convince the judges in the Fisher cases).

    The main issue, though, is the amount of cover that affirmative action gives to these discriminatory practices. The current guidelines leave a lot to the discretion of the universities, and the universities in turn reward that trust by denying everything and withholding all information possible.
  • Data10Data10 Registered User Posts: 2,878 Senior Member
    edited April 18
    he Arcidiacono report states that the mean SAT score (across all sections) from the year 2000 to 2017 for African-American admits was 704, whereas it was 767 for Asian-Americans (looking at the scores for many consecutive years rather than just one year paints a fuller picture of what actually happened historically).
    There are quite a few differences in Harvard admission since the 1990s when the graph starts (class of 2000). For example, the graph suggests something changed near the class of ~2010, in which the number of URM applicants increased rapidly compared to other races, likely due to a combination of increased marketing to URMs and the Harvard FA Initiative. If we want to look at Harvard's admission practices in the 1990s prior to these changes, then we might also consider the old Harvard lawsuit which includes a sample from the 1980s and 1990s. However, if we want to paint a picture of more current admission practices, I think it's better to use more recent years. The most recent year in the graph was the class of 2017. This was not an anomalous year. Instead the class of 2017 fits well with the trend line of an increase in scores over time as the college becomes more selective, so I'd expect the gap between AA and the overall admitted class to further narrow in the current class than occurs in the 720- vs 740+ point gap per section that occurs in the class of 2017, perhaps being a gap of ~20 points per section today.
    These are mean scores so this indicates that a large percentile of African-american admits (>25%) had scores in the 1300s. The SAT is not that demanding of a test. I would argue that a cohort with SATs in the 1300s (out of 1600) would indeed be relatively unprepared (and a bit mismatched) especially for Ivy league math, physics, engineering courses.
    Harvard' s CDS indicates that under 7% of those submitting ACT had an ACT composite below the equivalent of 1370. These 7% of the class with below 1370 were almost certainly primarily recruited athletes and not primarily non-athlete URMs. Recall from the lawsuit that being a recruited athlete was orders of magnitude a stronger hook than anything else including the URM hooks, with odds ratios near 3000x. Athletes with a 4 academic rating had a 70% admit rate, while non-athletes had a 0.07% admit rate -- ~1000x lower.

    Ignoring the specific numbers, suppose 25% of URM admits do have scores, grades, HS courses, and rest of application suggest they are likely to do poorly in engineering. How do we know that those 25% are interested in engineering and are not instead planning on a more liberal arts focused field? I'd expect Harvard to consider the scores and rest of the application in the context of the proposed major. For example, a 1350 composed of 800 Math and 550 Verbal probably is more likely to be admitted as an engineering major than one who scored 550 Math and 800 Verbal. However, I doubt that either is likely to be admitted unless a recruited athlete and/or there is something really unique in the rest of the application beyond their scores.
  • havesomehearthavesomeheart Registered User Posts: 25 Junior Member
    OHMomof2 wrote:
    1408 is still higher than 94th percentile. As the mean, there will be higher and lower scores, both. Not sure why you focus on the low. But even the low is 87th %ile.

    As a metric, to be 87th percentile nationally is quite poor for ivy league caliber schools. This definitely has an impact on what type of courses you can take in college and greatly limits what you will likely major in.

    At Duke, if you have a math SAT or SAT II score of below 710 or ACT math score of below 30, it is recommended that you start with the very lowest math sequence as a freshman. At Princeton, if you have a math SAT below 670 or ACT score below 28, you basically have to take remedial math, the lowest of 7 tracks that are available for freshman.

    Since nearly all ivy+ schools require at least 1-2 math courses to graduate (in any major including nonSTEM) and you will be far below your peer group, there will likely be important effects on self-esteem. No impact? Hardly.
    Data10 wrote:
    Athletes with a 4 academic rating had a 70% admit rate, while non-athletes had a 0.07% admit rate -- ~1000x lower.

    As noted in my earlier post, African-americans with a 5 academic rating had an acceptance rate of 22.41%. Are all these admitted students “almost certainly primarily recruited athletes”? Doubtful.

    Even using the class of 2017 data, the gap between AA and asian americans is 51 points per section or 102 points (out of 1600). Your point regarding the trend line after 2014 or so is well taken, however, much of the discussion was whether there was or was not a sizable gap in academic performance over the last 5-20 years - the time period for the current Harvard lawsuit. Additionally, it is highly speculative to assume that the gap will continue to reduce in the future. Academic performance (for good or ill) is correlated with wealth and the wealth gap for URMs is currently growing not decreasing.
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