The Sciences

The acceptance letter

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanApr 26, 2010 8:29 PM


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I heard an interview on the radio by the author of No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life. The study focused on elite universities. I decided to poke around and see what I could find. The chart on probability of acceptance by SAT score broken down by race has no surprises.

Equalizing standardized test scores I assume everyone knows that at elite universities there's an Asian penalty, and blacks and Hispanics tend to get a bonus, with whites as a reference population in the middle. The author warned though that looking at standardized test scores may not indicate any discrimination against Asians, as it didn't include in other "soft" aspects of the application such as leadership, which Asians naturally must lack because of their conformist and collectivist nature (OK, I added the last part!). But the class chart was more interesting to me....

It looks like you better not be too dumb if you're middle class. Lower class people get a nice handicap, while presumably the low scoring upper class types are stereotypical legacies. But at elite universities if you're of middle socioeconomic status I guess all the leadership and exceptional talents can't help; acceptance rates ~0 once your SAT scores approach the national norm. But is this a matter of the confounds? In other words is this is a real signal of class based discrimination, or are there differences in the makeup of each class demographically skewing this? Here's a regression model which seems to suggest there isn't much to class, but more to race. The blacks in this case are broken down between descendants of slaves, and those who are presumably the children of immigrants or immigrants from the West Indies and Africa.

The racial effects are the ones which are statistically significant. It's interesting that black Americans who don't have any recent immigrant ancestry get a very significant boost vis-a-vis West Indians, etc.

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