Email [Be sure to read the Comments and replies following the article where the analysis continues.
It has been just over a year since the Supreme Court ruled for the second time in the case Fisher v. University of Texas and for the fifth time on the consideration of race in college admission, and here we go again. A Justice Department spokesperson subsequently described the Times report as inaccurate, suggesting that the memo did not augur new investigations into race-based admission but was related to a previously filed complaint on behalf of Asian-American applicants to one institution.
In any case the report has generated a new spate of articles and op-eds about affirmative action and related issues. Are Asian-American applicants discriminated against in the college admissions process?
It depends on what evidence you cite and how you interpret that evidence. The primary argument against the idea that discrimination is going on is that Asian-Americans are not underrepresented in the student bodies of elite colleges and universities. The argument that discrimination is going on is that the percentage enrolled would be higher in a race-blind admissions process.
At places like California Institute of Technology, where race is not considered, the percentage of Asian-Americans is twice that found at Harvard.
A study by Princeton University sociologist Thomas Espenshade suggested that Asian-Americans needed much higher SAT scores than other groups to have an equal shot at being admitted to elite universities.
The villain in this case is not race but selective admission. A number of the pillars supporting and the assumptions underlying selective admission frustrate applicants and college counselors.
The first of these is hyperselectivity. Selectivity has become an end in itself. One of my students recently attended an information session for a selective university and was surprised at how much focus was on sales, on encouraging applications.
With greater competition, it is harder for admission committees to make fine distinctions among applicants, and more deserving kids get shut out. A second is holistic admission. Different candidates are admitted for different and often unclear reasons.
The biggest factor is the change a generation ago, identified by Karabel, from admitting individuals to admitting and sculpting a class. Colleges and universities use the admissions process to help achieve a number of institutional goals, and students are admitted not because they are deserving but because they contribute in some way to a class that achieves institutional goals ranging from academic profile to diversity to revenue.
What that means is that every applicant is not competing equally for every place in the freshman class.
I tell my unhooked students that superb academic and personal credentials are necessary for admission, but not sufficient. No combination of grades, scores and activities guarantees admission to the Ivies and near Ivies.
The hidden currency in selective admission is uniqueness. The rarer any talent or quality, the more valuable it is, and vice versa. If every applicant does community service or plays a musical instrument, those things are unlikely to be distinguishing.
One of my Asian-American students recently acknowledged the stereotype that many Asian-American applicants are pre-med and play musical instruments, and hoped that the fact that he played the viola rather than the violin might distinguish him.
The real question is how colleges and universities determine the composition of a freshman class. One of the arguments cited by those who believe that there is admissions discrimination against Asian-Americans at places like Harvard is that the percentage of Asian-Americans in the freshman class has remained consistent even as the percentage of applicants who are Asian-American has increased dramatically.
Is that evidence of an enrollment quota or ceiling? It may be evidence that selective admission involves reverse engineering.
Hyperselectivity and holistic admission provide insurance for the institution, because it is difficult to prove that an individual applicant should have been admitted. Is selective admission fair, and should it be? The current process works well for institutions.
But selective college admission can be seen as an example of a type of ethical dilemma known as distributive justice, where the challenge is finding a fair means of distributing a scarce good or resource.
Unfortunately fairness ranks low on the list of objectives for most selective institutions. University of Texas, but I hope we will always question our assumptions about selective admission and strive for a process that serves the public interest as well as it serves institutional interest.Affirmative Action in College Admissions Affirmative Action has become one of the most controversial issues regarding college admissions.
It is an issue that exposes profiling to its highest extent. Race, gender and income now become vital factors in education opportunities. Free higher education papers, essays, and research papers. A concise article describing several key misunderstandings of affirmative action.
Well worth reading! Aug 15, · Bluntly stated, there is systematic discrimination in all three categories of affirmative action in higher education: admissions, financial assistance, and faculty hiring.
Jun 11, · Affirmative action in higher education has been a hotly contested issue in courts for decades, and new discussions on the issue have been sparked as the country awaits a . Is affirmative action the college admissions gift that keeps on giving?
In any case the report has generated a new spate of articles and op-eds about affirmative action and related issues. Means for Higher Education. Gubernatorial Winners and Higher Education.