Should Harvard start admitting kids at random?

by Andrew Gelman on December 22, 2012 · 2 comments

in Education

Now that the topic of discrimination in college admissions has hit the papers again, I thought I should repost this from the sister blog:

Ron Unz provides evidence that Jews are way overrepresented at Ivy League colleges, with Asians-Americans and non-Jewish whites correspondingly underrepresented. Unz attributes this to bias and pressure in the admissions office and recommends that, instead, top colleges should switch to a system based purely academic credentials (he never clearly defines these, but I assume he’s talking about high school grades, SAT scores, and prizes in recognized academic competitions). He recommends that Harvard, for example, get rid of preferences for athletes, musicians, and rich people, and instead reserve one-fifth of their slots based on pure academic merit and with the remaining four-fifth “being randomly selected from the 30,000 or so American applicants considered able to reasonably perform at the school’s required academic level and thereby benefit from a Harvard education.”

A lot would depend on where that lower threshold is set. . . .

{ 2 comments }

steve December 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Yes, they should. The current system rewards those who pay professionals to prepare their admissions for them. It penalizes kids who need to work or can only afford activities that are low cost, like 4-H. A system that results in just 20% of white Catholic/Protestant kids being accepted, when by test scores, according to Unz, it should 50%-60% is broken.

Steve

del2124 December 24, 2012 at 11:12 am

I fail to understand how that would improve either Harvard or society itself.

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