I’ve been volunteering at my son Ben’s high school this semester so I’ve been sitting in on some presentations by visiting college admission reps.
As they are packing up, I often ask the reps about their admission requirements for minority students since there are a significant number of these kids at Ben’s school. What I’ve discovered is that the college admission requirements for minority applicants are almost always lower.
Colleges want their student bodies to be ethnically diversified so they are willing to reduce the admission standards for minority students who don’t have access to SAT prep tutors and other advantages that many suburban teenagers enjoy.
It’s a touchy subject, however, which is why colleges don’t publicize the lower admission requirements for minority applicants.
An explosive new book by Thomas J. Espenshade, a professor at Princeton University, is shedding light on this issue of college affirmative action. (FYI, I am in favor of affirmative action, but I think it should be reserved for low-income and middle-income students of color and not affluent applicants.)
Espenshade discovered that there are significant differences among the SAT and ACT test scores that colleges want from racial and ethnic groups. He made this conclusion after looking at the admission records for 9,000 applicants at 10 highly selective, unnamed colleges.
In his book, No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal; Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life, Espenshade notes that the biggest testing advantage belongs to African-American students. Black students who were accepted into these elite schools could have SAT scores on a 1600 scale that were 310 points lower than a white, middle-class applicant. Hispanic applicants enjoyed a 130 point advantage.
Low-income students, regardless of race, also enjoyed a 130-point advantage and working-class applicants got a 70-point advantage. Upper-middle class students enjoyed a 50-point advantage.
The applicants who were hurt the most by the affirmative-action admission policies were Asian students, who had to earn 140 points more than the typical middle-class, white applicant to gain admission.
You can learn much more about the book’s affirmative-action statistics and findings by reading this article entitled, The Power of Race.