Abigail Fisher, a white student rejected in 2008, claims her dream school used “holistic review” as a cover for racial discrimination. “There were people in my class with lower grades who weren’t in all the activities I was in, and who were being accepted into UT, and the only other difference between us was the color of our skin,” Fisher said.
“Affirmative-action policies at selective colleges are very vulnerable,” writes Richard Kahlenberg in The Atlantic. Race is weighed “very heavily” in admissions decisions. That helps “fairly well-off African-American and Latino students.”
“By the 1990s, one study found that 86 percent of African American students on selective campuses were middle or upper class, and the white students were even richer,” he writes.
“Underrepresented minority students receive a 28-percentage-point increase in their chances of being admitted, according to one careful analysis,” he writes. ” Low-income students receive no boost whatsoever.”
Affirmative action based on economic disadvantage — help for low-income students of all races — could reproduce current levels of racial diversity at 193 selective colleges, a 2014 simulation concluded. “Socioeconomic diversity would rise substantially,” writes Kahlenberg.
Samuel Goldman, a poli sci prof at George Washington University, proposes a lottery open to all qualified applicants to replace the opaque, dishonest and expensive college admissions system.
The application would involve a checklist of more or less objective, externally verifiable criteria. These might include GPA above a certain cutoff, scores of 4 of 5 on a given number of AP tests, and so on. . . . there might be a box to be checked by applicants who played a varsity sport. The application could even ask about socio-economic status, allowing applicants to indicate that their parents had not attended college or that they grew up in a high-poverty census tract.
Suppose the checklist contained ten criteria. Applicants who satisfied, say, six of them would be entered into a lottery for admission.
“Elite universities might lose a bit of their cachet,” he writes in The American Conservative. He’s OK with that.
A college-admissions lottery would reduce stress, writes Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore psychology professor.
Every selective school should establish criteria that students would have to meet to have a high likelihood of being successful. Then, the names of all applicants who meet these criteria would be put into a hat and the winners would be drawn at random.
Students wouldn’t have to be “best,” he writes. “Good enough” would be good enough.