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Earlier we had noted that the tests used to select NMS semifinalists actually tilted substantially against Asian students by double-weighting verbal skills and excluding visuospatial ability, but in the case of Jews this same testing-bias has exactly the opposite impact.
Thus, the number of high-ability Jews we are finding should be regarded as an extreme upper bound to a more neutrally-derived total. Therefore, assuming an admissions system based on strictest objective meritocracy, we would expect our elite academic institutions to contain nearly five Asians for every Jew; but instead, the Jews are far more numerous, in some important cases by almost a factor of two.
This raises obvious suspicions about the fairness of the Ivy League admissions process. Once again, we can turn to the enrollment figures for strictly meritocratic Caltech as a test of our estimates. It is intriguing that the school which admits students based on the strictest, most objective academic standards has by a very wide margin the lowest Jewish enrollment for any elite university. Let us next turn to the five most selective campuses of the University of California system, whose admissions standards shifted substantially toward objective meritocracy following the passage of Prop.
The average Jewish enrollment is just over 8 percent, or roughly one-third that of the 25 percent found at Harvard and most of the Ivy League, whose admissions standards are supposedly far tougher. Meanwhile, some 40 percent of the students on these UC campuses are Asian, a figure almost five times as high. Once again, almost no elite university in the country has a Jewish enrollment as low as the average for these highly selective UC campuses.
Large numbers of Jewish students also attend the schools in the lowest-tier community college system as well, such as Pierce College in the San Fernando Valley. If these Jewish students had had higher academic performance, most would almost certainly have selected the much more prestigious University of California campuses. Another interesting example is MIT, whose students probably rank fifth in academic strength, just below the three HYP schools and Caltech, and whose admissions standards are far closer to a meritocratic ideal than is found in most elite schools, though perhaps not quite as pristine as those of its Caltech rival.
Karabel notes that MIT has always had a far more meritocratic admissions system than nearby Harvard, tending to draw those students who were academic stars even if socially undistinguished. As an example, in the s Feynman had been rejected by his top choice of Columbia possibly due to its Jewish quota, and instead enrolled at MIT.
Milton and Jagdish Mehra, Climbing the Mountain: The Scientific Biography of Julian Schwinger , , p. From my own perspective, I found these statistical results surprising, even shocking. I had always been well aware of the very heavy Jewish presence at elite academic institutions. But the underwhelming percentage of Jewish students who today achieve high scores on academic aptitude tests was totally unexpected, and very different from the impressions I had formed during my own high school and college years a generation or so ago.
An examination of other available statistics seems to support my recollections and provides evidence for a dramatic recent decline in the academic performance of American Jews. Math Olympiad began in , and all the names of the top scoring students are easily available on the Internet. During the s, well over 40 percent of the total were Jewish, and during the s and s, the fraction averaged about one-third.
However, during the thirteen years since , just two names out of 78 or 2. The Putnam Exam is the most difficult and prestigious mathematics competition for American college students, with five or six Putnam winners having been selected each year since Over 40 percent of the Putnam winners prior to were Jewish, and during every decade from the s through the s, between 22 percent and 31 percent of the winners seem to have come from that same ethnic background.
But since , the percentage has dropped to under 10 percent, without a single likely Jewish name in the last seven years. During every decade from the s through the s, Jewish students were consistently 22—23 percent of the recipients, with the percentage then declining to 17 percent in the s, 15 percent in the s, and just 7 percent since Indeed, of the thirty top ranked students over the last three years, only a single one seems likely to have been Jewish.
Similarly, Jews were over one-quarter of the top students in the Physics Olympiad from to , but have fallen to just 5 percent over the last decade, a result which must surely send Richard Feynman spinning in his grave. Other science competitions provide generally consistent recent results, though without the long track record allowing useful historical comparisons. Over the last dozen years, just 8 percent of the top students in the Biology Olympiad have been Jewish, with none in the last three years.
Between and , only 11 percent of the winners of the Computing Olympiad had Jewish names, as did just 8 percent of the Siemens AP Award winners. And although I have only managed to locate the last two years of Chemistry Olympiad winners, these lists of 40 top students contained not a single probable Jewish name.
Further evidence is supplied by Weyl, who estimated that over 8 percent of the NMS semifinalists were Jewish,  Weyl p. Since Jews were then approximately 2. Moreover, in that period the math and verbal scores were weighted equally for qualification purposes, but after the verbal score was double-weighted,  David W.
Taken in combination, these trends all provide powerful evidence that over the last decade or more there has been a dramatic collapse in Jewish academic achievement, at least at the high end. Several possible explanations for this empirical result seem reasonably plausible. In support of this hypothesis, roughly half of the Jewish Math Olympiad winners from the last two decades have had the sort of highly distinctive names which would tend to mark them as recent immigrants from the Soviet Union or elsewhere, and such names were also very common among the top Jewish science students of the same period, even though this group represents only about 10 percent of current American Jews.
Indeed, it seems quite possible that this large sudden influx of very high performing immigrant Jews from the late s onward served to partially mask the rapid concurrent decline of high academic achievement among native American Jews, which otherwise would have become much more clearly evident a decade or so earlier. This pattern of third or fourth generation American students lacking the academic drive or intensity of their forefathers is hardly surprising, nor unique to Jews.
Consider the case of Japanese-Americans, who mostly arrived in America during roughly the same era. However, the older mean age of this group implies that it probably represents a relatively reduced fraction of the high school population. Meanwhile, Chinese, Koreans, and South Asians are 6 percent of California but contribute 50 percent of the top scoring students, an eight-fold better result, with a major likely difference being that they are overwhelmingly of recent immigrant origin.
In fact, although ongoing Japanese immigration has been trivial in size, a significant fraction of the top Japanese students have the unassimilated Japanese first names that would tend to indicate they are probably drawn from that tiny group. He also mentions the disappearance of the remarkable Scottish intellectual contribution to British life after about Although the evidence for both these historical parallels seems very strong, the causal factors are not entirely clear, though Weyl does provide some possible explanations.
In some respects, perhaps it was the enormously outsize Jewish academic performance of the past which was highly anomalous, and the more recent partial convergence toward white European norms which is somewhat less surprising. For the first 14 studies conducted during the years —, the Jewish IQ came out very close to the white American mean, and it was only in later decades that the average figure rose to the approximate range of — American Jews are certainly a high-ability population, but the innate advantage they have over other high-ability white populations is probably far smaller than is widely believed.
This conclusion is supported by the General Social Survey GSS , an online dataset of tens of thousands of American survey responses from the last forty years which includes the Wordsum vocabulary test, a very useful IQ proxy correlating at 0. But Americans of English, Welsh, Scottish, Swedish, and Catholic Irish ancestry also have fairly high mean IQs of or above, and their combined populations outnumber Jews by almost to-1, implying that they would totally dominate the upper reaches of the white American ability distribution, even if we excluded the remaining two-thirds of all American whites, many of whose IQs are also fairly high.
We should also remember that Jewish intellectual performance tends to be quite skewed, being exceptionally strong in the verbal subcomponent, much lower in math, and completely mediocre in visuospatial ability; thus, a completely verbal-oriented test such as Wordsum would actually tend to exaggerate Jewish IQ.
Stratifying the white American population along religious lines produces similar conclusions. Finally, in the case of Jews, these assimilation- or environment-related declines in relative academic performance may have been reinforced by powerful demographic trends.
For the last generation or two, typical Jewish women from successful or even ordinary families have married very late and averaged little more than a single child, while the small fraction of Jewish women who are ultra-Orthodox often marry in their teens and then produce seven or eight children. As a consequence, this extremely religious subpopulation has been doubling in size every twenty years, and now easily exceeds 10 percent of the total, including a far higher percentage of younger Jews.
But ultra-Orthodox Jews have generally been academically mediocre, often with enormously high rates of poverty and government dependency. Therefore, the combination of these two radically different trends of Jewish reproduction has acted to stabilize the total number of Jewish youngsters, while probably producing a sharp drop in their average academic achievement.
Although the relative importance of these individual factors behind Jewish academic decline is unclear, the decline itself seems an unmistakable empirical fact, and the widespread unawareness of this fact has had important social consequences.
But the objective evidence indicates that in present day America, only about 6 percent of our top students are Jewish, which now renders such very high Jewish enrollments at elite universities totally absurd and ridiculous.
I strongly suspect that a similar time lag effect is responsible for the apparent confusion in many others who have considered the topic. For example, throughout his very detailed book, Karabel always seems to automatically identify increasing Jewish enrollments with academic meritocracy, and Jewish declines with bias or discrimination, retaining this assumption even when his discussion moves into the s and s.
He was born in , graduated Harvard in , and returned there to earn his Ph. But he seems strikingly unaware that the world has changed since then, and that over the last decade or two, meritocracy and Jewish numbers have become opposing forces: Most of my preceding analysis has focused on the comparison of Asians with Jews, and I have pointed out that based on factors of objective academic performance and population size, we would expect Asians to outnumber Jews by perhaps five to one at our top national universities; instead, the total Jewish numbers across the Ivy League are actually 40 percent higher.
This implies that Jewish enrollment is roughly percent greater relative to Asians than should be expected under a strictly meritocratic admissions system. Obviously, all these types of analysis may be applied just as easily to a comparison of Jews with non-Jewish whites, and the results turn out to be equally striking.
The key factor is that although Jewish academic achievement has apparently plummeted in recent decades, non-Jewish whites seem to have remained relatively unchanged in their performance, which might be expected in such a large and diverse population. As a consequence, the relative proportions of top-performing students have undergone a dramatic shift.
We must bear in mind that the official U. It amounts to everyone who is not black, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian, and currently includes an estimated 63 percent of all Americans. Determining the number of whites among NMS semifinalists or winners of various academic competitions is relatively easy.
Both Asian and Hispanic names are quite distinctive, and their numbers can be estimated by the methods already discussed. Meanwhile, blacks are substantially outnumbered by Hispanics and they have much weaker academic performance, so they would produce far fewer very high scoring students. Therefore, we can approximate the number of whites by merely subtracting the number of Asian and Hispanic names as well as an estimated black total based on the latter figure, and then determine the number of white Gentiles by also subtracting the Jewish total.
Once we do this and compare the Jewish and non-Jewish white totals for various lists of top academic performers, we notice a striking pattern, with the historical ratios once ranging from near-equality to about one-in-four up until the recent collapse in Jewish performance. For example, among Math Olympiad winners, white Gentiles scarcely outnumbered Jews during the s, and held only a three-to-two edge during the s and s, but since have become over fifteen times as numerous.
Between and , Putnam Exam winners had averaged about two white Gentiles for every Jew, with the ratios for each decade oscillating between 1. The elite science competitions follow a broadly similar pattern. Non-Jewish whites had only outnumbered Jews 2-to-1 among the Physics Olympiad winners during —, but the ratio rose to at least 7-to-1 during — Meanwhile, white Gentiles were more numerous by nearly 6-to-1 among — Computing Olympiad winners, 4-to-1 among the — Siemens AP Award winners, and over 3-to-1 among — Biology Olympiad champions.
The evidence of the recent NMS semifinalist lists seems the most conclusive of all, given the huge statistical sample sizes involved. As discussed earlier, these students constitute roughly the highest 0. In California, white Gentile names outnumber Jewish ones by over 8-to-1; in Texas, over to-1; in Florida and Illinois, around 9-to Needless to say, these proportions are considerably different from what we actually find among the admitted students at Harvard and its elite peers, which today serve as a direct funnel to the commanding heights of American academics, law, business, and finance.
Based on reported statistics, Jews approximately match or even outnumber non-Jewish whites at Harvard and most of the other Ivy League schools, which seems wildly disproportionate. When examining statistical evidence, the proper aggregation of data is critical. The Asian ratio is 63 percent, slightly above the white ratio of 61 percent, with both these figures being considerably below parity due to the substantial presence of under-represented racial minorities such as blacks and Hispanics, foreign students, and students of unreported race.
Thus, there appears to be no evidence for racial bias against Asians, even excluding the race-neutral impact of athletic recruitment, legacy admissions, and geographical diversity. However, if we separate out the Jewish students, their ratio turns out to be percent, while the residual ratio for non-Jewish whites drops to just 28 percent, less than half of even the Asian figure.
As a consequence, Asians appear under-represented relative to Jews by a factor of seven, while non-Jewish whites are by far the most under-represented group of all, despite any benefits they might receive from athletic, legacy, or geographical distribution factors. The rest of the Ivy League tends to follow a similar pattern, with the overall Jewish ratio being percent, the Asian figure at 62 percent, and the ratio for non-Jewish whites a low 35 percent, all relative to their number of high-ability college-age students.
Just as striking as these wildly disproportionate current numbers have been the longer enrollment trends. In the three decades since I graduated Harvard, the presence of white Gentiles has dropped by as much as 70 percent, despite no remotely comparable decline in the relative size or academic performance of that population; meanwhile, the percentage of Jewish students has actually increased. This period certainly saw a very rapid rise in the number of Asian, Hispanic, and foreign students, as well as some increase in blacks.
But it seems rather odd that all of these other gains would have come at the expense of whites of Christian background, and none at the expense of Jews. Furthermore, the Harvard enrollment changes over the last decade have been even more unusual when we compare them to changes in the underlying demographics. Between and , the relative percentage of college-age blacks enrolled at Harvard dropped by 18 percent, along with declines of 13 percent for Asians and 11 percent for Hispanics, while only whites increased, expanding their relative enrollment by 16 percent.
However, this is merely an optical illusion: Thus, the relative presence of Jews rose sharply while that of all other groups declined, and this occurred during exactly the period when the once-remarkable academic performance of Jewish high school students seemed to suddenly collapse.
Most of the other Ivy League schools appear to follow a fairly similar trajectory. Between and , the official figures indicate that non-Jewish white enrollment dropped by 63 percent at Yale, 44 percent at Princeton, 52 percent at Dartmouth, 69 percent at Columbia, 62 percent at Cornell, 66 percent at Penn, and 64 percent at Brown.
If we confine our attention to the last decade or so, the relative proportion of college-age non-Jewish whites enrolled at Yale has dropped 23 percent since , with drops of 28 percent at Princeton, 18 percent at Dartmouth, 19 percent at Columbia and Penn, 24 percent at Cornell, and 23 percent at Brown.
For most of these universities, non-white groups have followed a mixed pattern, mostly increasing but with some substantial drops. I have only located yearly Jewish enrollment percentages back to , but during the six years since then, there is a uniform pattern of often substantial rises: Fourteen years ago I published a widely-discussed column in the Wall Street Journal highlighting some of the absurdities of our affirmative action system in higher education.
In particular, I pointed out that although Jews and Asians then totaled merely 5 percent of the American population, they occupied nearly 50 percent of the slots at Harvard and most of the other elite Ivies, while non-Jewish whites were left as the most under-represented student population, with relative numbers below those of blacks or Hispanics.
Since then Jewish academic achievement has seemingly collapsed but relative Jewish enrollment in the Ivies has generally risen, while the exact opposite combination has occurred for both Asians and non-Jewish whites. I find this a strange and unexpected development. It is important to recognize that all of these enrollment statistics are far less precise than we might ideally desire. Similarly, nearly all our figures on Jewish enrollment were ultimately drawn from the estimates of Hillel, the national Jewish campus organization, and these are obviously approximate.
Furthermore, so long as any latent bias in the data remained relatively constant, we could still correctly analyze changes over time. For these sorts of reasons, any of the individual figures provided above should be treated with great caution, but the overall pattern of enrollments—statistics compiled over years and decades and across numerous different universities—seems likely to provide an accurate description of reality. Meanwhile, an ethnic distribution much closer to this apparent ability-ratio is found at Caltech, whose admissions are purely meritocratic, unlike the completely opaque, subjective, and discretionary Ivy League system so effectively described by Karabel, Golden, and others.
One obvious explanatory factor is that the Ivy League is located in the Northeast, a region of the country in which the Jewish fraction of the population is more than twice the national average. So this factor would probably explain only a small portion of the discrepancy.
Furthermore, MIT utilizes a considerably more meritocratic and objective admissions system than Harvard, and although located just a few miles away has a ratio of Jewish to non-Jewish whites which differs by nearly a factor of four in favor of the latter compared to its crosstown rival. By the late s Jewish students had become a substantial fraction of most Ivy League schools and today some of their children may be benefiting from legacies.
But until about twenty-five years ago, white Gentiles outnumbered their Jewish classmates perhaps as much as 3-to-1, so if anything we might expect the admissions impact of legacies to still favor the former group. Anyway, the research of Espenshade and his colleagues have shown that being a legacy provides an admissions advantage in the range of 19—26 percent,  Espenshade p.
Many Jewish alumni are very generous to their alma maters, but so are non-Jews, and indeed nine of the ten largest university donations in history have come from non-Jewish individuals, nearly all in the last fifteen years;  See http: Perhaps Jews simply apply to these schools in far greater relative numbers, with successful, educationally-ambitious Jewish families being much more likely to encourage their bright children to aim at the Ivies than the parents of equally bright non-Jews.
However, since these elite schools release no information regarding the ethnic or racial skew of their applications, we have no evidence for this hypothesis. And why would high-ability non-Jews be percent or percent more likely to apply to Caltech and MIT than to those other elite schools, which tend to have a far higher national profile? Anyway, the numbers alone render this explanation implausible.
Each year, the Ivy League colleges enroll almost 10, American whites and Asians, of whom over are Jewish. The situation becomes even stranger when we focus on Harvard, which this year accepted fewer than 6 percent of over 34, applicants and whose offers of admission are seldom refused.
It is quite possible that a larger percentage of these top Jewish students apply and decide to attend than similar members from these other groups, but it seems wildly implausible that such causes could account for roughly an eight-fold difference in apparent admissions outcome.
But it seems very unlikely that any remotely neutral application of these principles could produce admissions results whose ethnic skew differs so widely from the underlying meritocratic ratios. Harvard could obviously fill its entire class with high-scoring valedictorians or National Merit Scholars but chooses not to do so.
In , Harvard rejected well over half of all applicants with perfect SAT scores, up from rejecting a quarter a few years earlier, and in Princeton acknowledged it also admitted only about half. In , roughly students with perfect SAT scores of applied to Harvard, and fewer than were accepted.
For the rates, see Steinberg p. It is important to note that these current rejection rates of top scoring applicants are vastly higher than during the s or s, when Harvard admitted six of every seven such students and Princeton adopted a policy in which no high scoring applicant could be refused admission without a detailed review by a faculty committee.
Thirty or forty years ago, Jewish names were very common on the PBK lists, but more recently they have dropped to fairly low levels. In recent years, Jewish conservatives have often been in the forefront of accusations that ethnic favoritism leads elite academic institutions to unfairly admit large numbers of blacks and Hispanics, who subsequently underperform once on campus. But perhaps such critics should consider looking into a mirror.
Having considered and largely eliminated these several possible explanatory factors, we can only speculate as to the true causes of such seemingly anomalous enrollment statistics at our Ivy League universities. However, we cannot completely exclude the possible explanation that these other top students are simply not wanted at such elite institutions, perhaps because their entrance in large numbers might drastically transform the current ethnic and cultural mix.
After all, Karabel devoted hundreds of pages of his text to documenting exactly this pattern of Ivy League admissions behavior during the s and s, so why should we be surprised if it continues today, at least at an unconscious level, but simply with the polarities reversed? Indeed, Karabel points out that by Harvard, Yale, and Princeton all had presidents of Jewish ancestry,  Karabel p.
At most universities, a provost is the second-ranking official, being responsible for day-to-day academic operations. A similar degree of massive overrepresentation is found throughout the other top administrative ranks of the rest of the Ivy League, and across American leading educational institutions in general, and these are the institutions which select our future national elites.
I have not the slightest reason to doubt that the overwhelming majority of these individuals are honest and sincere, and attempt to do their best for their institutions and their students. As a perfect example of such a situation, consider an amusing incident from the mids, when Asian groups first noticed a sharp decline in Asian admissions rates to Harvard and accused the university of having begun a quiet effort to restrict Asian numbers, criticism which was vigorously resisted by senior Harvard officials.
It is also curious that the weighty defense of preferential ethnic admissions policies at elite institutions written by former Harvard President Derek Bok and former Princeton President William G.
Unconscious biases may become especially serious when combined with an admissions system based on the extreme flexibility and subjectivity that exists at these colleges.
But when machinery already exists for admitting or rejecting whomever a university wishes, on any grounds whatsoever, that machinery may be unconsciously steered in a particular direction by the shared group biases of the individuals controlling it.
Perhaps the most detailed statistical research into the actual admissions practices of American universities has been conducted by Princeton sociology professor Thomas J. Their findings provide an empirical look at the individual factors that dramatically raise or lower the likelihood of acceptance into the leading American universities which select the next generation of our national elites.
But as we saw earlier, even more significant are racial factors, with black ancestry being worth the equivalent of points, Hispanics gaining points, and Asian students being penalized by points, all relative to white applicants on the point Math and Reading SAT scale.
And on the face of it, these claims may seem plausible. But the difficulty comes from the fact that such subjective factors must necessarily be assessed subjectively, by the particular individuals sitting in the Yale or Columbia admissions offices, and their cultural or ideological background may heavily taint their decision-making. Consider that these reported activities were totally mainstream, innocuous, and non-ideological, yet might easily get an applicant rejected, presumably for being cultural markers.
When we recognize the overwhelmingly liberal orientation of nearly all our elite universities and the large communities of academics and administrators they employ, we can easily imagine what might become of any applicants who proudly proclaimed their successful leadership roles in an activity associated with conservative Christianity or rightwing politics as their extracurricular claim to fame. Our imagination is given substance by The Gatekeepers , a fascinating and very disturbing inside look at the admissions system of Wesleyan, an elite liberal arts college in Middleton, Conn.
The author was Jacques Steinberg, a veteran National Education Correspondent at the New York Times , and now its editor focusing on college admissions issues. Although Wesleyan definitely ranks a notch or so below the Ivies in selectivity, Steinberg strongly suggests that the admissions decision-making process is very similar, and while his book described the selection of the Fall entering class, his afterword to the edition states that the overall process has remained largely unchanged down to the present day.
Consider the case of Tiffany Wang, a Chinese immigrant student raised in the Silicon Valley area, where her father worked as an engineer. Although English was not her first language, her SAT scores were over points above the Wesleyan average, and she ranked as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist, putting her in the top 0.
Somehow I suspect that a student who boasted of leadership in pro-death penalty activism among his extracurriculars might have fared rather worse in this process. And presumably for similar reasons, Tiffany was also rejected by all her other prestigious college choices, including Yale, Penn, Duke, and Wellesley, an outcome which greatly surprised and disappointed her immigrant father.
Finally, there was the case of Becca Jannol, a girl from a very affluent Jewish family near Beverly Hills, who attended the same elite prep school as Julianna, but with her parents paying the full annual tuition. Despite her every possible advantage, including test-prep courses and retaking the exam, her SAT scores were some points lower on the point scale, placing her toward the bottom of the Wesleyan range, while her application essay focused on the philosophical challenges she encountered when she was suspended for illegal drug use.
Eventually he got her shifted from the Reject category to wait-list status, after which he secretly moved her folder to the very top of the large waiting list pile. See Kahlenberg p. The overwhelmingly liberal orientation of the elite university community, the apparent willingness of many liberals to actively discriminate against non-liberals, and the fact that American Jews remain perhaps the most liberal ethnic community may together help explain a significant portion of our skewed enrollment statistics.
Indeed, Golden states that admissions officers at top universities are constantly being offered explicit bribes, sometimes even including promises of houses or cruises. Yet in fact, Jews were heavily, often massively over-represented in the Ivy League throughout the entire Twentieth Century, and by constituted 25 percent of Harvard undergraduates, a rate some percent higher than their share of the general population.
Steinberg is an award-winning journalist who has spent most of the last 15 years covering education for the New York Times , and surely ranks near the very top of his profession; his book was widely reviewed and almost universally praised. For such huge factual errors to pass unnoticed is a very disturbing indication of the knowledge and assumptions of the individuals who shape our public perceptions on the realities of higher education in our society. In fact, it seems likely that some of these obvious admissions biases we have noticed may be related to the poor human quality and weak academic credentials of many of the university employees making these momentous decisions.
As mentioned above, the job of admissions officer is poorly paid, requires no professional training, and offers few opportunities for career advancement; thus, it is often filled by individuals with haphazard employment records. The vast majority seem to possess minimal academic expertise and few intellectual interests, raising serious questions about their ability to reasonably evaluate their higher-quality applicants.
As additional evidence, we can consider What It Really Takes to Get into the Ivy League , a advice book written by Chuck Hughes, who spent five years as a Senior Admissions Officer at Harvard, after having himself graduated from that university. Although he strongly emphasizes his own college participation in varsity sports, he never says a word about any personal academic interests, and near the end of his book on elite college admissions, he appears to describe Duke, Northwestern, and Rice as being members of the Ivy League.
A more explicit statement of this exact problem is found in A for Admission , a very candid description of the admissions process at elite private universities written by Michele A. Near the beginning of her book, Hernandez explains that over half of Ivy League admissions officers are individuals who had not attended such academically challenging universities, nor probably had the intellectual capability to do so, and were sometimes confused about the relative ranking of SAT scores and other basic academic credentials.
She also cautions students to avoid any subtlety in their essays, lest their words be misunderstood by their readers in the admissions office, whose degrees are more likely to have been in education than in any serious academic discipline.
She suggests that the Harvard is the only Ivy League university in which a majority of the Admissions Officers tend to have an Ivy League background. The last point is not a trivial one, since although our country is only about 13 percent black, according to a Gallup survey most people thought the figure was 33 percent, with the average non-white putting it at 40 percent.
A very recent survey found that Americans believe Protestants outnumber Jews in this country by only 2. Such shocking demographic ignorance is hardly confined solely to the uneducated. Velvel of the Masschusetts School of Law interviewing Prof.
The remarks described appear in the last nine minutes of the second hour segment. For example, in Princeton discovered that its Jewish enrollment had declined to just percent of parity, down from more than percent in the mids, and far below the comparable figures for Harvard or Yale. This quickly resulted in four front-page stories in the Daily Princetonian , a major article in the New York Observer , and extensive national coverage in both the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Where Have Jewish Students Gone? I suspect that the combined effect of these separate pressures, rather than any planned or intentional bias, is the primary cause of the striking enrollment statistics that we have examined above.
In recent decades, elite college admissions policy has frequently become an ideological battlefield between liberals and conservatives, but I would argue that both these warring camps have been missing the actual reality of the situation.
My own position has always been strongly in the former camp, supporting meritocracy over diversity in elite admissions. But based on the detailed evidence I have discussed above, it appears that both these ideological values have gradually been overwhelmed and replaced by the influence of corruption and ethnic favoritism, thereby selecting future American elites which are not meritocratic nor diverse, neither being drawn from our most able students nor reasonably reflecting the general American population.
The overwhelming evidence is that the system currently employed by most of our leading universities admits applicants whose ability may be unremarkable but who are beneficiaries of underhanded manipulation and favoritism. Nations which put their future national leadership in the hands of such individuals are likely to encounter enormous economic and social problems, exactly the sort of problems which our own country seems to have increasingly experienced over the last couple of decades.
And unless the absurdly skewed enrollments of our elite academic institutions are corrected, the composition of these feeder institutions will ensure that such national problems only continue to grow worse as time passes. We should therefore consider various means of correcting the severe flaws in our academic admissions system, which functions as the primary intake valve of our future national elites.
But this same simple solution could always be proposed for any other obviously failing system, including Soviet-style Communism.
Nearly all the figures mentioned were of Jewish origins. However, even leaving aside the rights and wrongs of such a proposal, it would be extremely difficult to implement in practice.
The pattern of American ethnic origins is complex and interwoven, with high intermarriage rates, leading to categories being fluid and ambiguous. Furthermore, such an approach would foster clear absurdities, with wealthy Anglo-Saxons from Greenwich, Conn. An opposite approach would be to rely on strictest objective meritocracy, with elite universities automatically selecting their students in academic rank-order, based on high school grades and performance on standardized exams such as the SAT.
This approach would be similar to that used in many other developed countries around the world, but would produce severe social problems of its own. Consider the notorious examples of the single-minded academic focus and testing-frenzy which are already sometimes found at many predominantly Asian immigrant high schools, involving endless cram-courses and massive psychological pressure.
This seems very similar to the stories of extreme educational effort found in countries such as Japan, South Korea, and China, where educational success is an overriding social value and elite admissions are fully determined by rank-order academic performance.
At present, these severe educational pressures on American teenagers have been largely confined to a portion of our small Asian-American population and perhaps some of their non-Asian schoolmates, but if Harvard and its peers all selected their students based on such criteria, a huge fraction of American students would be forced to adopt similar work-habits or lose any hope of gaining admission.
Also, we would expect such a system to heavily favor those students enrolled at our finest secondary schools, whose families could afford the best private tutors and cram-courses, and with parents willing to push them to expend the last ounce of their personal effort in endless, constant studying.
We should also consider that under such a selection system, any interest or involvement not directly contributing to the academic transcript—including activities associated with artistic talent, sports ability, or extra-curricular leadership—would disappear from our top universities, since students who devoted any significant time to those pursuits would tend to lose out to those who did not.
Even those highest-ability students who gained admission would tend to forego the benefits of encountering classmates with a somewhat more balanced mix of interests and abilities, a group closer to the American mainstream, and might therefore develop a very one-sided and unrealistic view of our national population.
And if every student admitted to Harvard believed, not without some justification, that he had been objectively determined to be among the smartest and hardest working 0. These same problems would also manifest themselves in an admissions system based on strict meritocracy as adjusted by socio-economic status, which Richard Kahlenberg prominently advocated in his book The Remedy , and various other writings. We should remember that a significant fraction of our Asian immigrant population combines very low socio-economic status with extremely strong academic performance and educational focus, so it seems likely that this small group would capture a hugely disproportionate share of all admissions spots influenced by these modifying factors, which may or may not be fully realized by advocates of this approach.
Perhaps an important starting point would be to recognize that in any normal distribution curve, numbers widen greatly and differences become far less significant below the very top. The authors, former presidents of Harvard and Princeton, also emphasize that the crucial factor is to ensure that all admitted are above a high academic threshold and able to reasonably perform the work in question p.
One obvious problem with this analysis is that if elite universities admit many under-qualified white students based on favoritism or corruption, these would constitute the bottom decile in question, and the comparison made would merely highlight this fact. The average student at Harvard is going to be an average Harvard student, and perhaps it would be better if a large majority of the admitted students would not find this prospect a horrifying disappointment after their previously stellar career of having always been the biggest student fish in their smallish academic ponds.
The notion of top universities only selecting a slice of their students based on purest academic merit certainly seems to be the standard today, and was so in the past as well. As already mentioned, according to Hughes, who served five years as a Harvard Senior Admissions Officer at Harvard, by the mids only 5 percent or less of Harvard undergraduates were selected purely on academic merit, with extracurricular activities and a wide variety of unspecified other criteria being used to choose among the other 80—85 percent of applicants who could actually handle the academic work; and this same pattern is found at most other highly selective universities.
Given a widening funnel of ability, it is absurd to base admissions decisions on just a small difference of twenty or thirty points on the SAT, which merely encourages students to spend thousands of hours cramming in order to gain those extra crucial twenty or thirty points over their competitors.
But if our elite colleges were to select only a portion of their students based on purest academic merit, how should they pick the remainder, merely by flipping a coin? Actually, that might not be such a terrible idea, at least compared with the current system, in which these decisions are often seemingly based on massive biases and sometimes even outright corruption.
After all, if we are seeking a student body which is at least somewhat diverse and reasonably representative of the American population, random selection is hardly the least effective means of ensuring that outcome.
And the result would be true diversity, rather than the dishonest and ridiculous pseudo-diversity of our existing system. The notion of using random selection to overcome the risk of unfair bias has been used for centuries, including in our own country, and is regularly found in matters of the greatest civic importance, especially those involving life and death.
Our jury system relies on the random selection of a handful of ordinary citizens to determine the guilt or innocence of even the most eminent and powerful individuals, as well as to render corporate verdicts with penalties reaching into the billions. The millions of Americans ordered to fight and perhaps die in our major wars were generally called into the military by the process of a random draft lottery. And today, the enormous growth of games of chance and financial lotteries, often government-run, have become an unfortunate but very popular aspect of our entire economic system.
Compared to these situations, requiring an excellent but hardly spectacular student to take his chances on winning a spot at Harvard or Yale hardly seems unreasonable. Supreme Court in Douglas, and he repeatedly considered the possible use of random lotteries as the fairest means of allocating college admissions slots below the top tier of most highly qualified applicants. Also, almost any American students in this group or even reasonably close would be very well aware of that fact, and more importantly, nearly all other students would realize they were far too distant to have any chance of reaching that level, no matter how hard they studied or how many hours they crammed, thus freeing them from any terrible academic pressure.
And our vast and growing parasitic infrastructure of expensive cram-schools, private tutors, special academies, and college application consultants would quickly be reduced to what was merited by their real academic value, which may actually be close to nil.
But the class would be filled with the sort of reasonably talented and reasonably serious athletes, musicians, and activists drawn as a cross-section from the tens of thousands of qualified applicants, thereby providing a far more normal and healthier range of students. The terrible family pressure which students, especially immigrant students, often today endure in the college admissions process would be greatly reduced. Even the most ambitious parents would usually recognize that their sons and daughters are unlikely to ever outrank And losing in a random drawing can hardly be a source of major shame to any family.
One of the most harmful aspects of recent American society has been the growth of a winner-take-all mentality, in which finishing even just slightly below the top rung at any stage of the career ladder seems to amount to economic and sometimes personal failure. An aspect of this is that our most elite businesses tend to only recruit from the top universities, assuming that these possess a near-monopoly on the brightest and most talented students, even though it actually appears that favoritism and corruption these days are huge factors in admission.
But if it were explicitly known that the vast majority of Harvard students had merely been winners in the application lottery, top businesses would begin to cast a much wider net in their employment outreach, and while the average Harvard student would probably be academically stronger than the average graduate of a state college, the gap would no longer be seen as so enormous, with individuals being judged more on their own merits and actual achievements.
A Harvard student who graduated magna cum laude would surely have many doors open before him, but not one who graduated in the bottom half of his class. It is possible that some universities such as Caltech, which today selects its entering freshmen by purely meritocratic academic rank-order, might prefer to retain that system, in which case the Inner Ring would constitute the entire enrollment.
Other universities, which glorify the extremes of total diversity, might choose to select almost all their students by random lot. But for most, the sort of split enrollment I have outlined might work reasonably well. Since colleges would still be positioned in a hierarchy of national excellence and prestige, those students whose academic record just missed placing them within the Inner Ring of a Harvard or a Yale would almost certainly gain automatic admission to a Columbia, Cornell, or Duke, and the same sort of cascading effect would be found down through all subsequent layers of selectivity.
Since essays, personal statements, lists of extracurricular achievements and so many other uniquely complex and time-consuming elements of the American admissions process would no longer exist, students could easily apply to long lists of possible colleges, ranking them in order of personal preference. Meanwhile, the colleges themselves could dispense with nearly their entire admissions staff, since the only remaining part of the admissions process would be determining the academic ranking of the tiny fraction of top applicants, which could be performed quickly and easily.
Harvard currently receives almost 35, applications, which must each be individually read and evaluated in a massive undertaking, but applying a crude automatic filter of grades and test scores would easily winnow these down to the 1, plausible candidates for those Inner Ring slots, allowing a careful evaluation of those highest-performing students on pure academic grounds.
The late James Q. However, one of his teachers arranged his admission to a small college on a full scholarship, which launched him on his stellar academic career. But filling out a few very simple forms and having their test scores and grades scores automatically forwarded to a list of possible universities would give them at least the same chance in the lottery as any other applicant whose academic skills were adequate. Following the collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union, some observers noted with unease that the United States was left as about the only remaining large and fully-functional multi-ethnic society, and the subsequent collapse and disintegration of ethnically diverse Yugoslavia merely strengthened these concerns.
China is sometimes portrayed by the ignorant American media as having large and restive minority populations, but it is 92 percent Han Chinese, and if we exclude a few outlying or thinly populated provinces—the equivalents of Alaska, Hawaii, and New Mexico—closer to 95 percent Han, with all its top leadership drawn from that same background and therefore possessing a natural alignment of interests.
But such success should not be taken for granted. Many of the Jewish writers who focus on the history of elite university admissions, including Karabel, Steinberg, and Lemann, have critiqued and rebuked the America of the first half of the Twentieth Century for having been governed by a narrow WASP ascendency, which overwhelmingly dominated and controlled the commanding heights of business, finance, education, and politics; and some of their criticisms are not unreasonable.
This does not seem like a recipe for a healthy and successful society, nor one which will even long survive in anything like its current form. Power corrupts and an extreme concentration of power even more so, especially when that concentration of power is endlessly praised and glorified by the major media and the prominent intellectuals which together constitute such an important element of that power. But as time goes by and more and more Americans notice that they are poorer and more indebted than they have ever been before, the blandishments of such propaganda machinery will eventually lose effectiveness, much as did the similar propaganda organs of the decaying Soviet state.
The only difference today is that this period of economic stagnation has now extended nearly three times as long, and has also been combined with numerous social, moral, and foreign policy disasters. Leaving aside the question of whether these methods have been fair or have instead been based on corruption and ethnic favoritism, the elites they have produced have clearly done a very poor job of leading our country, and we must change the methods used to select them.
Ron Unz is publisher of The American Conservative. The Shape of the River William G. Bowen and Derek Bok. Kurzweil, and Eugene M. Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford.
The Price of Admission Daniel Golden. Twilight of the Elites Christopher Hayes. The Chosen Jerome Karabel. Choosing Elites Robert Klitgaard. The Big Test Nicholas Lemann. These arbitrary point systems while well intended are not a reflection of AA design. School lawyers in a race not be penalized for past practices, implemented their own versions of AA programs.
Because there redal goal was to thwart any real challenge that institutions were idle in addressing past acts of discrimination. To boost their diversity issues, asians were heavily recruited. Since AA has been in place a lot of faulty measures were egaged in: Quotas for quotas sake. Good for PR, lousy for AA and issues it was designed to address. I think the statistical data hides a very important factor and practice. Most jews in this country are white as such , and as such only needed t change their names and hide behaviors as a strategy of surving the entrance gauntlet.
That an elite system is devised and practiced in members of a certain club networks so as to maintain their elite status, networks and control, this is a human practice. And it once served as something to acheive. It was thought that the avenues of becoming an elite were there if one wanted to strive for it. Hard work, honesty, persistence, results. And while I am not as focussed on the poverty ve wealth dynamic.