Color counts

Work, study, get rejected for medical school: Discriminations posts Association of American Medical Colleges’ data for med school applicants from 2005 to 2007.

1. An Asian American with a GPA of 2.8 to 2.99 and a MCAT score of 36 to 38 has a 36.8% chance of being admitted to a U.S. medical school.

2. A White with a GPA of 2.8 to 2.99 and a MCAT score of 36 to 38 has a 40.7% chance of being admitted to a U.S. medical school.

3. An African American with a GPA of 2.8 to 2.99 and a MCAT score of 36 to 38 has a 100% chance of being admitted to a U.S. medical school.

Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., now summering on Martha’s Vineyard, opposes race-based affirmative action, Discriminations notes. Affirmative action served as a “class escalator” for some black people, who now use it to perpetuate their status, Gates told the Vineyard Gazette.

“I think we need a class-based affirmative action. I grew up in the hills of West Virginia with poor white people and I can testify from my own experience the culture of poverty is color-blind,” Professor Gates said.

Many of those rejected Asian-American applicants grew up in struggling immigrant families, but they weren’t raised in a culture of poverty.

Update: Readers point out that the AAMC data show only one black applicant with a 2.8-2.99 GPA in the 36-38 MCAT range. However, 100 percent of the 44 black applicants with grades of 3.2-4.0 were accepted, while acceptance rates ranged from 64.1 percent to 94.2 percent for Asians with the same scores and GPAs above 3.2.

I also looked at a larger category:  Applicants with grades from 3.0 to 4.0 and scores in the 27 to 29 range, Wikipedia says 28.1 is the median score. Asians with 3.8 to 4.0 grades had a 72 percent acceptance rate, compared to 76 percent for whites and 95.9 percent for blacks.  At 3.6 to 3.79, the rate was 56.7 percent for Asians, 60.8 percent for whites and 92.1 percent for blacks. At 3.4 to 3.59, 42.9 percent of Asians, 45.8 percent of whites and 90 percent of blacks were admitted. 3.2 to 3.39: 27.3 percent Asian, 31.8 percent white, 83.6 percent black. 3.0 to 3.19: 15.6 percent Asian, 23 percent white, 76.3 percent black admitted.

I think it’s fair to say that Asian-American medical school applicants are held to slightly higher standards than whites and much higher standards than blacks.

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  1. Some interesting coded language here. What exactly is a “culture of poverty”?

  2. I guess my first reaction here is”

    People with lower than a 3.0 get into Med School????

    WTF… would you let a C average student operate on you!!!

  3. This has been going on since the 80s. At that time, I was told by a medical school staff member that a black applicant opened his interview with the comment “I know I can go to any school in the country, so why don’t you tell me why I should go here?” His college coursework, grades and especially his MCAT scores were mediocre and would not have been close to granting an interview to a white or Asian male. At least 15 years ago, I read a comment by a black columnist saying that his doctor was retiring and he would, regretfully, limit his search for a replacement to either a white or Asian man or anyone over 50. Not only does affirmative action weaken the overall med school population, but it poisons the reputation of those URMs who are admitted on merit.

  4. Margo/Mom says:

    That’s an interesting slice of data, but only a slice. What does the 3.0-4.0 crowd look like? What percentage of applicants fall into each of the three racial groups cited? Why was this particular sector of the GPA selected for study/citation?

    For example–assume that all merit criteria are equal, as the data seem to be indicating–and the school has ten slots to fill (again–I don’t know what happened to all of the students above a 3.0–but maybe they all applied to some other medical school with better financial aid, or more glitzy rep). Then assume a field of 90 white applicants, 120 asian applicants and 2 black applicants. Also consider that perhaps there is some value (as the U of M ruling supported) to having a diverse student body. One might select a class of 2 blacks, 5 whites and 3 asians. If all that was reported was the percentage of applicants from each group that was selected, you come out with a scenario like the one described. It doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about a preference for one race over another.

  5. Aardvark says:

    If you look at the raw data from which these statistics are drawn, you will note that the 100% African American rate represents one applicant and one acceptance.

  6. This is…surprising. My best friend — who is Asian — applied to med school with a 4.0 GPA and an MCAT score of 42 (I think). And she still got a number of rejections. How can someone with a C average and not-so-stellar MCAT results (not terrible, of course, considering that the average MCAT score for applicants, according to Wiki, is 28.1…but not stellar) have a remote shot? Isn’t the med school admissions scene supposed to be insanely competitive and cutthroat?

    I guess it depends on what schools they’re applying to…

  7. If Aardvark is correct, then what a total sham of a “study.”

  8. Margo/Mom says:

    Aardvark is correct, although it took some poking and clicking to get to the raw data. For those who are worried about it, the acceptance rate among those with both high grades and high MCATs is higher in all three race categories than those further on down the scale. But there are clearly far more both white and Asian applicants of every level than those who are black. Again, not certain why they selected that mid-range as their example–but the thesis of the article was that Asians were being denied equal opportunity. Clearly there are (as there should be) criteria in addition to GPA and MCAT that are being considered–or we would see 100% selection for all in the upper echelons. There are also applicants selected from all three race categories who did not have the highest scores.

  9. Margo/Mom says:

    BTW–it’s not a study, just an article of editorial nature.

  10. Cardinal Fang says:

    If the one black applicant had the same 40% chance of acceptance as the whites and Asians, then the results we see– that he/she was accepted– would happen just under half the time. In other words, Discriminations gave us a completely deceptive description of the data. If I ever see any other data presented by Discriminations, I’ll be sure to ignore it, since I now know Discriminations twists data to support his/her position.

  11. litsskad says:

    Cardinal Fang:

    You can ignore whatever you want, I suppose, but the data can hardly be considered to be cherry-picked when you get the same result for any combination of GPA and MCAT scores. The data is all available in the pdfs in the comments at the Discriminations post.