Affirmative action on admissions is over, and as I noted here, the progressive left is basically scared of what will happen next. What we have seen in California, which banned affirmative action in 1996, is that the percentage of black and Hispanic students is likely to decline until schools take legal steps to offset the advantage that affirmative action was giving these students. He Washington Post has a story today about how schools could do that. (emphasis added)
“Expect a scare,” said Michael V. Drake, president of the University of California, who is in a position to know. A 1996 state law has prohibited UC from using affirmative action in admissions for the past quarter century. After the initial thunderbolt, he said, came the hard work of making up lost ground. “We had to adapt. We are still chasing, but we have made progress.”…
Some steps are easy, experts say. Universities will work harder to get diverse applicants from previously overlooked high schools and regions. They will examine an applicant’s essays, recommendations, and life experience, often gathering relevant information about racial and ethnic origin.
Later in the article we learn that college admissions officers across the country have been strategizing about what they could legally do if the court struck down affirmative action. And the general idea seems to be to make students focus more on writing sad story essays.
Before the ruling, admissions leaders and attorneys across the country strategized for months about what would be allowable. Shannon R. Gundy, assistant vice president for enrollment management at the University of Maryland, which has so far considered race as a factor, told higher education leaders in April that universities should advise counselors on strategies for write letters of recommendation and to students on admission writing. essays
“Right now, students write about their soccer practice, they write about their grandmother dying,” Gundy said. “They write about things that are personal to them. They don’t write about their trials and tribulations, they don’t write about the challenges they’ve had to experience, and they don’t know how to do it and they don’t want to do it. We’re going to have to educate students on how to do that.”
Two points on this. First of all, I find it hard to believe that students aren’t already writing about their trials and tribulations. An associate professor wrote an article for the The New York City Times this week saying that affirmative action had turned almost every student into one who was doing everything possible to highlight or hide their racial identity.
Chinese and Korean kids wanted to know how to make their application materials look less Chinese or Korean. Rich white kids wanted to know ways to appear less rich and less white. Black kids wanted to make sure they were black enough. The same is true for Latino and Middle Eastern children.
Seemingly everyone I interacted with as a tutor—white or brown, rich or poor, student or parent—believed that getting into an elite university required what I called racial gamification.
She went on to predict that the end of affirmative action would only make matters worse: “Writing college essays will descend further into a perverse, racialized version of the Keynesian beauty pageant.” He also admitted that a lot of this was already happening.
I still believe, as I said here, that the situation cannot get worse on the part of the students because they already know what the schools are looking for. However, it could get worse from the school. As schools move away from test scores and even grades to provide a more “holistic” application process that gives more minority students an opportunity, they will focus more on essays, scanning them for clues as to where they came from. racial status of a student.
And this is where it occurs to me that this is probably creating an even greater incentive for students to just lie.
Of course, this is probably already a problem. Some students may already be lying or exaggerating to create a compelling essay. But IIn the past, students still had to submit their SAT scores and grades and those scores mattered a lot. Only the students with the best grades and scores had a chance at Harvard, regardless of the story they had to tell. Maybe a big trial might give them an advantage, but it wasn’t enough on its own to get them to participate.
But if test scores are increasingly neglected and the importance of grades is discounted in an effort to include more minority students, what’s left as the core of the application is a bunch of written essays (maybe? ) by students who know their best chance of being accepted. is a story about his struggles against racism or some other ism.
Of course, there are students who may have genuinely fought against racism. I am not denying or dismissing that. I’m just pointing out that by elevating the importance of the essay, we create a huge incentive for some people to just… make something up.
The advantage of grades and test scores is that they are quite difficult to fake. You can take a few test prep classes and maybe add 100-200 points to your overall SAT score, but you’re still the one filling in the little circles on the form. But how are admissions offices supposed to verify the veracity of students’ essays about their experiences? How do they know that the essays were created by an AI program?
Granted, parents and family members may know if a story is true, but they are also highly motivated to see their child get into Harvard. And who’s going to ask them anyway?
Simply put, affirmative action racially gamified the system. Now, to maintain “equity” without affirmative action, let’s move further away from quantitative evidence of academic merit toward qualitative evidence of personal merit (essays, recommendations) that might be concocted out of thin air or based on the whims of teachers. with their own agendas. Maybe the admissions officers should give this some thought.