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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Ivy dreams, but what's realistic?

"Safe to say Harvard is out," Demar Goodman, who's black, told a friend when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected race-based college admissions. He gave up on Harvard, but plans to apply to Cornell.


Cole Clemmons, who's white, dreams of Columbia, and decided to add Dartmouth and Harvard to his college list.


Photo: George Pak/Pexels

Washington Post reporter Hannah Natanson looks at how the affirmative action decision affected the aspirations of two high school seniors, one from a working-class family in Georgia and the other from a middle-class family in Tennessee.


Both students are hard-working and ambitious. Goodman earns A's and B's at an "underserved" school, and has an ACT score at the 85th percentile (probably a 27), while Clemmons is an A student with a perfect 36 and a National Merit scholar.


On the flip side, Goodman did well despite growing up in a low-income neighborhood with low-performing schools. He participates in a non-profit mentoring program.


Clemmons' parents sacrificed to live in an upscale town with excellent schools, and paid for a former teacher to help him with his college essays.


Goodman, who wants a career in politics, is very interested in District of Columbia schools such as Howard, George Washington University and American University. I'd bet he gets into all three. The key will be financial aid.


Would he do better if he gets into Cornell? Maybe. Prestige isn't chopped liver. But he seems destined for success.


Clemmons, who plans to major in environmental science or international relations, also seems destined for success. Financial aid is important to him as well.


Goodman decided not to mention his race in his Common App essay, writes Natanson. Instead, he wrote about his collection of flag-lapel pins, which represent his passion for politics and for America. "I don’t see the country the flag represents today, I see the country the flag should represent,” he wrote.


Clemmons responded to a University of Michigan prompt on "one of the communities to which you belong" by writing about being raised “on Southern ideals” but later pushing friends and family to consider “diverse viewpoints,” writes Natanson.


His passion for diversity is real, he told the reporter. But he guesses many white teens will be "saying the same thing."

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6 Comments


Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Nov 24, 2023

Our nation would be better off if it had a baccalaureate student examination, to provide better information about the likelihood of student success than either the ACT or GPAs do; but since we don't (unless students are pursuing an IB Diploma, or its equivalent through a combination of AP or Cambridge A-level grades), these ACT composites generally favour Clemmons, and the rest of the strategizing would be moot, if American university colleges decided suddenly to start practising equal justice under law.

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professorcynic
Nov 24, 2023

The black student is drawing the wrong conclusion. Harvard is test-optional through at least 2026. They, along with other elite schools, are now looking to maintain their desired quotas in ways that will not be so obviously discriminatory. Don't submit the ACT score formally. Write a personal statement that makes race obvious, note the 27 ACT (which in the class of 2023 would be in the 89th percentile overall, and very likely for a black male at the 97th percentile or above) in the body of the personal statement, and if the school is really "underserved," write truthfully about it. Ditto for the counselor's rec letter.

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superdestroyer
Nov 24, 2023
Replying to

The testimony in the lawsuits showed that Harvard's admission process really hurt poor blacks since all black applicants received the same admission tip and poor whites received a much smaller tip for poor students but poor black students did not get both. That way Harvard ensured that most of the black students admitted would be the children of upper class college-educated blacks, most of whom were recent immigrants to the U.S.

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LetThemEatCash
Nov 23, 2023

Where would we be without reporters like Hannah Natanson?

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superdestroyer
Nov 22, 2023

A few things for both students. The black student should probably go to Howard since the chance of success will be much higher than being around the rich white kids at American of GW.


The white should really decide if environmental science or international relations is the way to go. If he pursues environmental sciences then going to UT-Knoxville for a full scholarship and taking honors classes would be a better deal since environmental science is going to require a graduate degree. The international relations would be better off at an Ivy or Ivy like such as Georgetown but the parents need to be prepared to fund at least one semester abroad and many more along with more travel.


One…

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Steve Sherman
Steve Sherman
Nov 22, 2023

This is the whole problem with identity politics - it skews every score to the point that merit only periferally matters meaning that it doesn't really matter at all

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