admission

Why Size Matters in College Preferences

By Stuart Taylor, Jr. and Richard Sander Even for people who approve in principle of some use of racial preferences in university admissions — notably including Justice Anthony Kennedy — the size of the preferences, and of the resulting racial gaps in academic performance in college and beyond, should matter a great deal.  So it’s […]

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The Anti-Defamation League Reverses Course on Affirmative Action

In explaining why the American Jewish Committee had (with his help) supported Alan Bakke’s lawsuit against the University of California but also supported the University of Michigan’s racial preferences in Gratz and Grutter, Alan Dershowitz wrote that We feared that our hard-earned right to be admitted on the merits would be taken away. The WASP […]

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A Questionable New Student

Tablet brings news of the unfortunate case of Sheherazad Jaafari, who was admitted to Columbia‘s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) despite her background as a public relations aide for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. The admission raises important questions of standards and program policies.

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Harvard’s PR Machine and the Cherokees

Seemingly lily-white Elizabeth Warren’s supposed claim of Cherokee heritage may make for good campaign fodder–incumbent Senator Scott Brown has gone so far as to demand that Warren apologize for allowing Harvard to claim her as a minority–but the real lesson in this latest of partisan battles has more to do with university rather than electoral […]

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Stereotype Threat Coming to the Supreme Court

Get ready for a brand new defense of affirmative action that you’ve never heard before: preferences are necessary to assure selection by merit. How can that be? Simple. Just rework Claude Steele’s theory of stereotype threat–that minorities do less well on tests than their abilities warrant out of fear that their performance will confirm negative […]

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Admission Standards and How to Lower Them Legally

Surprise, surprise. Affirmation action for college admissions is yet one more time in the hands of the Supreme Court (Fisher v. Texas). Given the Court’s changed personnel from the last go around (Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 2003), race-based preferences may soon be history. But, would this judicial outcome finally doom preferences? Opponents of […]

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Confusion over Anti-Asian Discrimination

At the request of the unidentified Asian-American student who filed discrimination complaints against Harvard and Princeton, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has ended its investigation. The civil rights office had folded the complaint against Princeton … into a compliance review begun in 2008 of whether that university discriminates against Asian-Americans. The allegations […]

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Are Too Many People Going to College?

These are the opening statements of a luncheon debate co-sponsored by the Manhattan Institute’s Center for the American University and the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.  The debate, held January 11 in New York City, pitted George Leef, research director of the Pope Center, against Peter Sacks, economist and author of Tearing […]

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Best Books of 2011

What were the best books of the year on higher education? A panel of ten prominent people in the field, invited to vote by Minding the Campus, picked as their top two choices, “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses” by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa; and “Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting […]

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Jerry Brown Disappoints Backers of Preferences

Say what you will about California’s enigmatic governor, Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown, but on major issues involving votes of the people, Brown is very reluctant to go against the will of the people, no matter what his personal views happen to be. In 1978, during his first term as governor, Brown opposed the highly popular […]

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‘Cutthroat Admissions’ at Elite Colleges?

The Chronicle Review is notorious for publishing outlandish opinion pieces more in the nature of white-hot rants than well-reasoned essays. A good case in point is Professor John Quiggin’s “A Vicious Duo” (September 16 – subscriber site), is one of the most overwrought pieces I’ve read there. Quiggin, who teaches economics at the University of Queensland […]

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What the Madison Confrontation Reveals

Most observers have framed the recent disruption by backers of racial and ethnic preferences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a free-speech conflict. Free speech is clearly involved but lying below the surface are three issues that warrant close attention, specifically how Wisconsin once handled “inclusion;” how the protest reflects the transformation of the idea […]

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Preferences for Homosexuals?

Elmhurst College, in what is apparently a first, will ask this question on its admissions application:  “Would you consider yourself a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community?”  Answering the question will be optional; applicants may chose “yes” or “no” or “prefer not to answer.”  Those answering yes to the LGBT question will […]

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The US News Rankings Are Consistent with Aristocratic Values

In the current New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell entertainingly explains why computing a unidimensional ranking of educational quality from multidimensional indicators is a fool’s errand. In the case he examines, the project is to identify the best schools in order of quality, when the best school does not exist any more than a best kind of […]

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Malcolm Gladwell and Those Shaky Rankings

As the author of a college guide that tries to help college-going students identify schools that would be a good “match” for them as individuals, I’ve always had three main gripes with the U.S. News & World Report rankings. First, you can’t quantify the really important factors that go into selecting the right college, such […]

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“Bake Sales” Still Cooking On Campus

When the history of the decline and fall of the regime of racial preference is written, recognition will of course be given to the power of the moral, philosophical, historical, legal, and political arguments arrayed against the repugnant notion that benefits and burdens should be distributed on the basis of race. But it seems to […]

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Are Blacks and Hispanics More “Holistic” Than Whites And Asians?

In “Rising Admissions Standards Have Kept Top Colleges Out of Many Minority Students’ Reach,” Peter Schmidt reports in the Chronicle of Higher Education on yet another study of blacks and Hispanics being “channelled” into less selective colleges. The most selective colleges have raised the bar for admission over decades in which more black and Hispanic […]

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Seeing Ghosts in Class

The Chronicle of Higher Education has just added a new nail to the coffin of American Academia. Lax admission policies, politically correct texts, underpaid assistants who do the teaching in place of the big name professors busy on their next books, incompetent management, to name just a few liabilities, are wrecking the once-proud reputation of […]

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The Quiet Preference for Men in Admissions

It’s a well-known fact that there’s a severe gender imbalance in undergraduate college populations: about 57 percent of undergrads these days are female and only 43 percent male, the culmination of a trend over the past few decades in which significantly fewer young men than young women either graduate from high school or enroll in […]

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Embarassing Graduation Rate Data?

I was struck by the title of an article that appears in the Chronicle of Higher Education this morning, “Education Dept. Data Show Rise in Enrollment and Student Aid but Flat Graduation Rates.” Unless the purpose of student aid is simply to boost enrollments, it sounds like some people — taxpayers come immediately to mind […]

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The Tortured Logic of BAMN

People who have followed the effort to put initiatives on state ballots eliminating racial preferences from college admissions might remember this advertisement from 2008, which set Ward Connerly in Klan regalia. Two years before, a group called Think Progress posted a video on its web page under the headline “Leader of Michigan Initiative To End […]

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Why Selectivity Is Important

While selective colleges and universities have become more selective, middling and lower-tier schools have become less selective, according to a new study reported on Inside Higher Ed. The study’s author, Stanford’s Caroline M. Hoxby, correctly noted that “typical college-going students in the U.S. should be unconcerned about rising selectivity. If anything, they should be concerned […]

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Too Many Talented Students?

When I came out of high school in 1977, I had a GPA of 3.1, a straight B average. My SAT scores were 710 Math and 590 Verbal, pretty good but not stellar. My entire college application process took a half hour. I sauntered into the counselor’s office at Torrey Pines High School north of […]

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Mother Jones’ Mini College Guide

Some of the college selections seem premised on the strength of a college’s activist community (University of Kansas) or environmental studies programs (several) but most of the others are quite sound. The modest list is here.

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Colleges: Who Had The Money To Apply?

If you thought last fall’s staggering endowment drops were the end of collegiate financial troubles, you haven’t been paying attention. Another minefield awaited – application season. It wasn’t simply colleges that were feeling a pinch, so were their future customers. After decades of tuition increases that failed to dent application numbers, colleges were suddenly forced […]

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When Campuses Became Dysfunctional

In recent years the stakes for entrance to the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities have risen to absurd heights, with students (or, their families) not only now paying significant sums for private school tuitions (or the entry cost into good school districts, namely expensive housing), SAT training, and coaching for application writing, but increasingly […]

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The End Of Merit-Based Admission

Students applying for college admission now face a new reality—the SAT is increasingly optional at our colleges and universities. The test-optional movement, pioneered by FairTest, a political advocacy group supported by George Soros and the Woods Fund—now list 815 schools that do not require SAT scores. That number may seem impressive, but it includes institutions […]

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Beachcombing For Students

The New York Sun reports that Mercy College is creating an “instant, on-the-spot evaluation that allows students to learn whether they have been admitted 24 hours after showing their high school transcripts.” Where to find such impatient prospects? Admissions officers will also be canvassing local beaches and malls in the five boroughs and Westchester in […]

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The Model Minority Myth?

A recently released report that claims to poke holes in the idea of Asian-American students as the “model minority” – excelling academically and outperforming white students in mathematics, engineering, and the sciences – looks more like the latest phase of a long-running effort by Asian-American activists to persuade college administrators to establish admissions quotas and […]

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Abandoning The SAT – Fraud or Folly?

What are we to make of the decision by a growing number of “highly selective” colleges to scrap the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) as a criterion for college admission, something brought to our attention recently when another pair of semi-elite schools (Smith and Wake Forest) joined these ranks? The New York Times story of May […]

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