6 December 2004
Beyond the best and the brightest
The National Bureau of Economic Research has conducted a study to answer the question: if racial preferences were abolished, would highly-qualified minority students be less willing to apply to top-rung schools?
And why would they be? Is it possible that not having a substantial minority population at these schools might discourage minority applicants?
The NBER study suggests otherwise:
Comparing data from all SAT-takers in California and Texas in the 1994 to 2001 admission cohorts with administrative data from the eight University of California campuses covering 1995 to 2001, [the researchers] determine that the probability that a student asks the College Board to send his SAT score to a particular campus is a good proxy for the probability that a student will apply to the same institution. They conclude that students' decisions to send SAT scores to a particular campus can substitute for actual applications data.
[T}he end of affirmative action [in those two states] produced few changes in before-and-after score-sending behavior. There was a small, short-lived dip of less than 5 percent in the relative probability of sending scores to selective schools in both states from 1997-9, but the probabilities recovered after 1999. There was no change in behavior for highly qualified students, with the exception of high-GPA Hispanic students in California. They were significantly more likely to send their scores to the most selective University of California schools after affirmative action was abolished.
I infer from this that the best students, minority or otherwise, pay little attention to racial preferences. But look farther down the scale:
After preferences were banned in California in 1998, admission rates among black freshmen applicants to Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Diego fell from 45-55 percent in 1995-7 to 20-25 percent in 1998-2001. Between 1997 and 1998, the fraction of blacks and Hispanics in Berkeley's freshman class fell from 22 percent to 12 percent. System-wide, changes in minority admission were far more muted. In California, acceptance rates fell by about 7 percent for blacks and 4 percent for Hispanics.
Banning affirmative action admissions had similar effects at Texas schools. At Texas A&M the decline began in 1996. Black admission rates fell by an estimated 30 percent and Hispanic admission rates fell by an estimated 15 percent.
Or, as John Rosenberg explains:
Ending preferences, in short, tends to prevent the admission of students whose admission depends on receiving the preference.
Well, at least she won't have Kweisi Mfume to kick around anymore.Posted at 10:06 PM to Almost Yogurt