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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Whites vs. Asians in college admissions

Preferences for the children of wealthy donors — mostly white — are keeping high-scoring Asian-Americans out of elite private colleges, argues Daniel Golden on Bloomberg View. Affirmative action for Latinos and blacks is a less significant factor, he argues.

Who gets into Harvard?

The Justice Department is investigating a discrimination complaint against Harvard by Asian-American groups. Reportedly, Asian-American applicants must have much higher SAT scores — 140 points higher than whites — to get in to elite colleges.

“Right victim, wrong culprit,” writes Golden.

“Asian-Americans are indeed treated unfairly in admissions,” as Jews were in the past, he writes. However, “affirmative action is a convenient scapegoat for those who seek to pit minority groups against each other.”

A more logical target would be “the preferences of privilege,” as I called them in my 2006 book, The Price of Admission. These policies elevate predominantly white, affluent applicants: children of alumni, big non-alumni donors, politicians and celebrities, as well as recruited athletes in upper-crust sports like golf, sailing, horseback riding, crew and even, at some colleges, polo.

Asian-American students look alike to admissions officers, writes Jeannie Suk Gersen. Applicants must prove they are “not like other Asians” to have a chance.

In liberal California 72 percent of residents say state universities should treat all applicants the same, regardless of race, ethnicity or other factors, reports the KPIX 5 SurveyUSA poll. Only 14 percent — 10 percent in the even more liberal Bay Area — think race should be a factor in admissions.

In the Bay Area, 83 percent of whites, 66 percent of Asian-Americans, 63 percent of Hispanics and 57 percent of blacks opposed preferences in college admissions.

Whites are 37 percent of the population, but 24 percent of undergraduate admissions at the elite University of California system, reports KPIX. African-Americans make up 6 percent of the state population and 5 percent of UC admits; Latinos are 37 percent of the  population and 33 percent of admits. Asian-Americans, who are more likely to complete the college-prep sequence of courses with high grades and test scores, make up 13 percent of the population but 34 percent of UC admissions.

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