How Harvard makes admissions decisions

Here are some new and very thorough results from Peter Arcidiacono, Josh Kinsler, and the excellent Tyler Ransom:

The lawsuit Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard University provided an unprecedented look at how an elite school makes admissions decisions. Using publicly released reports, we examine the preferences Harvard gives for recruited athletes, legacies, those on the dean’s interest list, and children of faculty and staff (ALDCs). Among white admits, over 43% are ALDC. Among admits who are African American, Asian American, and Hispanic, the share is less than 16% each. Our model of admissions shows that roughly three quarters of white ALDC admits would have been rejected if they had been treated as white non-ALDCs. Removing preferences for athletes and legacies would significantly alter the racial distribution of admitted students, with the share of white admits falling and all other groups rising or remaining unchanged.

Am I allowed to observe that this seems wrong to me?  And that our “liberal elite” (not my preferred term, but what you see in the discourse and I don’t know which other referent to use) has failed us?

And from Garett Jones:

Controlling for academic traits and much else, being Asian American predicts a substantially lower probability of Harvard admission… And being female predicts a substantially higher probability of admission.

Here is the full paper.  For the pointer I thank various MR readers.


As a lawyer,

I would advise that in order to get your kid into Harvard

You should publicly disavow, disclaim and disinherit your child


Have that child then

Be adopted by a Harvard Alum who is also on the Faculty.

I don’t see the point in controlling for academics. That misses the forest for the trees. The most selective admissions committee in the United States consistently rated the personalities of Asians as statistically and scientifically worse than everyone else.

Bad personalities combined with zero athletics participation is the reason for lower admissions rate. Jeremey Lin was accepted, remember?

Do we want even more bad personality unathletic students at our Ivy League schools? Back me up here Bill.

Get help. You will never be hired to supervise a diverse workplace.

Come on Bill I know you’re on my side! Don’t you remember?! Here, I got ya.

Just search for Bill! And we can reminisce together about your views of Asians’ personalities.

Remembering is fun.

You are a fraud who depends on persons not to read the links. Where did you learn your disinformation strategy. Nothing I said contradicts anything above.

Furthermore, some of the links did not link to anything I wrote.
Second, what I did write did pertain to Card's mythology and the use of interviews of persons who score high but are read into it that this is Asian. You can be a bad interviewer and not Asian, but in your mind you must be.

methodology, interviewee

Its not my first time to go to see this web site, i am visiting this website dailly and take pleasant facts from here everyday.

Nice site. Realistic inventor seeking for those looking to save up money faster by sharing in high money output consumer products. Check this out http://www.Multiply-Your-Money. com

... and who makes less than $50,000 per year, thus qualifying the kid for free tuition instead of the non-discounted $47,400 USD price tag.

Unfortunately this would probably not work. I've had friends apply to Ivy League graduate programs at age 30 who were forced to jump through an unbelievable series of hoops to prove that, yes, they were actually estranged from their parents and had had not contact with them for over a decade. University financial aid offices would make for a fascinating study in the intractable problem of how to institute a means-testing regime based on family wealth.

The liberal elite is neither.


In this case it is a misnomer, right? This is not a project of the liberal elite from across the country conspiring to shape the Harvard freshman class.

This is just plain old institutional corruption.

You gotta do some readin'.

Stop reading that crap propaganda your Russian handlers give you.

The progressives live apartheid lives in gated communities - gated by physical walls or virtual walls of zoning regulations.

How did we get here? Listen to Thomas Frank. Maybe you don't know him. He might have been missing from your agent provocateur training.

From the book listing :

"Hailed as “the most prescient book” of the year, Listen, Liberal accurately described what ailed the Democratic Party even before the election of 2016 made their weaknesses obvious. It is the story of how the “Party of the People” detached itself from its historic constituency among average Americans and chose instead to line up with the winners of our new economic order.

Now with a new afterword, Thomas Frank’s powerful analysis offers the best diagnosis to date of the liberal malady. Drawing on years of research and firsthand reporting, Frank points out that the Democrats have over the last decades increasingly abandoned their traditional goals: expanding opportunity, fighting for social justice, and ensuring that workers get a fair deal. With sardonic wit and lacerating logic, he uncovers the corporate and cultural elitism that have largely eclipsed the party’s old working- and middle-class commitment. And he warns that the Democrats’ only chance of regaining their health and averting a future of ever-increasing inequality is a return to their historic faith."

The progressive left conspires to gain unfair advantage for themselves and their families, all the while loudly proclaiming their virtue. They get their kids into into Harvard, Yale, and USC but not MIT or Caltech.

The Dems did pass a healthcare law when they had the majority which the Republicans now have done their best to destroy. The result is a proliferation of healthcare plans don't even cover the basics but will be happy to take (a lot of) your money for it.

I do not have a subscription so take this as it is, but the article start with heart bypass, should insurance cover heart bypass?

Obamacare is terrible and only subject to adverse selection. The only people who like it are the worst of the worst who are mostly sitting on the couch, smoking, drinking, and eating themselves to death and would be rejected by any solvent insurance company. Those people are the ultimate moral hazard, choosing not to insure themselves when they are healthy.

Our POTUS has inspired many businesses to go an a hiring spree, a welcome relief after 8 years of "you didn't build that" and "at some point you have enough money" Obummer. He single handedly killed thousands of American with opioids. Thank God he's gone. Where is he now ...? Oh yeah, he just bought a mansion on Martha's Vineyard.

Btw, I have a friend who is without insurance and is grateful he doesn't have to pay the Obamafine. Anecdotal yes, but close to home.

Obvious troll is obvious.

At what point do you realize that all you're really selling is your own madness?

Hi mouse.

A far more interesting question is "when are the commenters and readers on this blog going to realise you and your numerous sock puppets are an agent provocateur working for the Russians?"

Your IP address has already been discovered to be in Central Asia somewhere.

You have targeted the blog of one of the top 100 influential people alive today. Then you pick away at the scabs from our culture wars with the intent to destabilize the USA. Of course, it's not going to work. We are going to duke it out on our own, and you are just one flea in a herd of camels. But, hey, it's a living. Right?

You are no Eli Cohen.

Useless ad hominem attacks.

Just because he refers to Wikipedia articles, press releases from MI6, press releases from the British equivalent of the State Department, Haaretz, the Wall Street Journal, Vox, New York Times, the Jerusalem Post, and Vanity Fair ...

as QAnon and Alex Jones type conspiracy mongering, does not make him a Russian troll. He’s a solid Democrat convert who lives in California and spends his time making scissor statements to improve the world.

Interestingly, whites who don't have an in at Harvard (not legacy, athletes, dean's special list, or whatever) have an even lower admission rate than Asians, much less blacks or Hispanics:

Non-ALDC Admit Rate white 0.0489 black 0.0758 Hispanic 0.0616 Asian 0.0513

Table 10:

Over 62,000 Whites applied (from the same Table 10 you cited), the most of any group. The bigger the denominator the lower the fraction. Too many people have no business applying. Whites also score lower than Asians on academics and extracurriculars (Table 5). Again, because too many people who should not be applying will bring the averages down.

How many of the should not be applying whites would be near guaranteed admission if they were black or legacy?

Did you read the study? White legacies have a higher admit rate than Black or Hispanic legacies. See table 9 for the probabilities.

I think he meant NON-legacy whites.

Why should they be applying anyways? They have all of the racial privilege of legacies without any of the historical, familial, or cultural ties to the schools.

Whites without familial ties would only take a slot for someone more deserving and more in line with Harvard’s goal of helping to achieve racial and educational justice.

This seems like some kind of obvious troll. The legacies and donors are much more likely to have greater privilege than the non legacies and donors. White racial privilege is indeed something in this country, but it is far from the only source of privilege, and not all white people have exactly the same amount of privilege.

It's seems odd to forthrightly argue for preferring more privileged whites to less privileged.

White:Asian application rates in the "general" (non-ALDC) category, compared to their proportion of the general population, are about 6:1. I'm not sure that's what we would expect from the SAT? Or is it?

White and Asian application rates within all the other ALDC categories (Athlete, Legacy, etc.) are at about the same level relative to general pop.

Admission rate relative to application rates are slightly higher for Asians than Whites within every category. Asian legacy applicants are slightly favoured over White legacy applicants, and there are more of them relative to the general population.

Asians would still do better under a system of purely academic admits, because it's their largest advantage, but they are advantaged in every category.

"Interestingly, whites who don't have an in at Harvard (not legacy, athletes, dean's special list, or whatever) have an even lower admission rate than Asians, much less blacks or Hispanics"

Sure, that is the direct reading. It's what I called institutional corruption. But perhaps that's not fair. If they make no bones about it, if it is what the Dean's List is for, it's their institutional purpose.

And Felicity Huffman just paid at the wrong window.

I can't think of a single fact that more succinctly lends credence to the grievances of the stereotypical Trump supporter demographic: white elites are securing unfair advantage for themselves, and they're disguising the extent of their privilege by taking opportunities away from non-elite whites and redistributing them to non-whites. In the process, non-whites get screwed, non-elite whites get screwed even harder, and "white people" writ large get blamed for the injustice to non-whites, with the majority of this anger aimed at any non-elite whites who grumble about the disadvantage they face relative to non-whites.

Of course, the solution to this problem is socialism (i.e. solidarity between white and non-white workers as against elites). As an elite white, I publicly support socialism while reaping the benefits of the corrupt system as it stands (and will no doubt continue to stand). It's a sweet gig, and I highly recommend it.

Sure, but.

That same demographic hates on Harvard for such practices, while hating on California and its "no race in admissions" public universities.

Is there any university they like? Just Liberty?

Why Most Republicans Don’t Like Higher Education

Obviously they are simply too stupid to appreciate the value of higher education. And their worldview is strongly anti-science and anti-progress.

Their solution to science proving Progressive policies correct is to tear down and defund universities. This is how they square the circle of their cognitive dissonance.

"That same demographic hates on Harvard for such practices, while hating on California and its "no race in admissions" public universities"

The same demographic loves the "no race in admissions" policy at California, and certainly supported Prop 209. Note that California public universities eliminated legacy preferences after Prop 209-- removing racial affirmative action always results in eliminating legacy preferences, because that's the only way to make the numbers better. (Contra Justice Sotomayor, who likes legacy preferences.)

That's different from not liking California in general. There are plenty of Southern states whose top tier public universities have racial preferences, yet progressives may dislike those states for other reasons. There's also plenty of police departments that have some form of racial hiring policies, yet of course progressives are free to be skeptical of the police in general. Etc.

Nice graphic here:

It isn't hating on California per say, it is part of a continuing split between the educated and successful .. and iincreasingly "the Republicans."

They are becoming the party of farmers and 4chan.

I'm not sure it's productive to try to hold a "demographic" accountable for its views, which in any case are bound to be incoherent.

But an individual within a demographic is a different matter.

So if you hear an individual non-elite white person grumbling about elites and non-whites and Harvard (or another prestigious university) and how they're all shitting on non-elite whites, I'd say that person might have a point and may not be motivated by racism or anti-education sentiments.

Semantics aside, I think these two links I have just given you are more than just gotchas.

They show politics splitting on something other than innate belief or personal nature.

Situations of relative success and optimism may end up facing (politically) situations of stagnation and pessimism.

Well said anon.

Next on the list, Stuyvesant. Race might not be real, but I agree with you there’s too many Asians.

Maybe de Blasio can add a personality test to the admissions process. As Bill the MR commentor (maybe it’s de Blasio!) has repeatedly told us throughout the last 2 years, we know they have terrible personalities.

And as you said it’s time to add this back to the UC system criteria. Too many Asians at Berkeley and UCLA.

See also:

(If you don't have a Wall Street Journal subscription, a trick is to search "red economy blue economy" on Twitter. The WSJ allows Twitter readers a pass or two on the paywall.)

Although the appearance is bad, it fortunately It appears than the whole thing is about what parents get to brag and that is not that important:

Does the math still work when you consider that half the students got in for reasons other than merit?

Does that improve the return to attending a selective college or worsen it? Does it matter if you're in the politically favored groups or not?

"All other groups" = Asians.

Asian Harvard alums don't accomplish as many things as White Harvard alums. Zero Supreme Court Justices, zero Senators, zero Presidents, zero CEO of major companies. Lacking in such accomplishments no wonder Harvard is only giving them a few legacy slots.

Asian-Americans like Nikki Haley, Elaine Chao, Bobby Jindal, etc. are being held back by racist Red State Trumpsters and need sit at the back of our Blue Bus for the indefinite future if they want to have any hope of advancement.

Elaine Chao is a commie Chinese spy under investigation by Congress. I guess that counts as an accomplishment for Asian Americans. But nobody you listed are Harvard Alums. I'm sorry you can't read but you are from a Blue state.

Elaine Chao has a Harvard MBA (and Bobby Jindal was accepted to Harvard Medical School but went elsewhere), but you're just another troll.

You two trolls suck at this.

"need sit at the back of our Blue Bus for the indefinite future"
Heard of Andrew Yang? Kamala Harris? Tulsi Gabbard? They are all Asians on the blue team running for highest office in the land.

"Elaine Chao has a Harvard MBA (and Bobby Jindal was accepted to Harvard Medical School but went elsewhere)"
Good on Chao's MBA but Jindal's coulda woulda shoulda means he didn't.

Yang and Gabbard are going nowhere. Harris is mixed race and playing up her black heritage (her debate moment was about busing) because blacks are a big portion of the vote in the Democratic primaries.

Bad troll. Read your name and then read what you wrote. You came out of character way too early and easily. Where's Thiago? He can show you.

"Asian-Americans like Nikki Haley, Elaine Chao, Bobby Jindal, etc. are being held back by racist Red State Trumpsters ..."

Ok, I'll bite and feed the troll. We victorious Trumpsters LOVE lNikki Haley, Elaine Chao, Bobby Jindal, etc.

In the last 20 years, there have been lots of funny and kind and wonderful people who matriculated at Harvard.

Zero geniuses.

Kind of sad, when you think about it.


Ain't gonna happen, because I am not wrong.

Does Obama going to Harvard Law count?

Just kidding.

Thanks for the laugh

Two of the eight richest men in the world are Harvard dropouts, so I'm guessing Harvard is doing okay on its admissions.

Now we'll be getting a NYTimes editorial about parity in dropout success. Quit controlling their minds!

Excellent point! Harvard is great at selecting geniuses who are immediately able to calculate the high opportunity cost of staying there until graduation.

Rich dummy losers know their only hope is a piece of sheepskin and a premium set of contacts - all dummies whose set of intersecting contacts is large.

Trump went to Ivy and he'll tell you he's a very stable genius.

Well he is not that important in the great scheme of things.

Exponentially funnier than Kennedy or the sad Bushes (the other three Ivy League presidents in our day) but of course being funny is not that important.

Although for the love of God both Bushes and the other Ivy League loser (Kennedy) were tremendous failures.

Remember that. They had every advantage in life and when we expected them to be competent they were just simply stupid little people, who did no better than one would expect from rich little men who never had to struggle for anything worth struggling for in this world.

Or maybe you are one of those people who think the James Bond movies are realistic.

"Well he is not that important in the great scheme of things."

He's President of the United States. He supported the war in Yemen against the wishes of Congress which has escalated into an attack on Saudi Arabia and some are clamoring for a war with Iran, which isn't very funny. Neither was the drone strike in Afghanistan the other day that killed 30 pine nut workers, noncombatant casualties. I agree though that the Ivy League is now a marker of incompetence in the Oval Office as the current streak continues.

and no, Obama was not really a Harvard student.

We all know if he had applied as Barry Soetero that he would never have been admitted.

Tom "I'm not gay" Cotton?

Harvard’s job is not to nurture geniuses. That is MIT’s job. Harvard’s task is to educate “leaders”. This is why conservatives have traditionally resisted opening Harvard to “diversity.””

Really? Harvard grads are grossly underrepresented as CEOs and senior military officers. The only area of leadership where they are overrepresented is politics where "leadership" selection is largely a popularity contest. That is, they arent particularly skilled at being leaders, they are only particularly skilled at being Harvard alums.

And as the results of the paper show, a large percentage of Harvard admits wouldn't qualify to be there if judged solely on academic, entrepreneurial or leadership abilities.

I went to an Ivy law school. I assure you there were lots of rather unremarkable people admitted who graduated and passed the bar, somewhere, eventually. Not being an LDC, I'm confident I made the academic cut.

I wonder if this messes with the academic work on the payoff of attending selective colleges?

If half the admits at high end schools are there for reasons other than their achievement potential, that would at least dilute any apparent teaching effect the school is supposed to have.

You might also have issues with the fraction of non-merit admits declining as school prestige declines, assuming Bates does this less than Harvard, Middlebury less than Bates, and UMass hardly at all.

My basic understanding of admissions standards relates (perhaps naively) to the probability of success. With Harvard's notoriously inflated grades, it is possible that any fair to middling student, if admitted, could graduate. And given Harvard's resources, that middling student might be a more able graduate than the same student attending State U.

So I dont think that the fact Harvard admits some low grade talent necessarily disproves the human capital hypothesis. It adds some evidence for the signalling hypothesis, but it is not dispositive.

Aside from gaming college rankings, Harvard and the Ivies appear to have a durable reputation. It admits, on average, a substantially better student than all state schools. Its maximal order students increase its prestige further. Even its dropouts do well in objective measures. So I think it is clear they add value to a group of already highly talented people.

I myself have been a shameful disappointment to my mentors for choosing not to pursue a more prestigious path. I was devoted more to justice, country, and family than my own status. I have zero regrets. I could have been on an federal Circuit court or state supreme court by now.

I'd just like to see Dale Kreuger redone with access to this kind of categorization data.

I'm not really sure how it would play out.

What is so special about Harvard that so many can't stop thinking about that school? I suppose a large part of whatever it has that people want a piece of in applying there is its legacy, being part of an institution with a multi-hundred year past and rubbing shoulders with people with very strong ties with that past. Would Harvard still be "Harvard" without the favored sons and daughters?

> What is so special about Harvard that so many can't stop thinking about that school?

Americans, being deprived of a hereditary nobility, are forced to create one in its place.

Tyler, what part of 'country club' do you not understand?

Table 11 is most revealing with all race, legacy, athlete preferences removed. Total admits: whites go from 4,802 to 4,917, African-Americans go from 1,367 to 428, Hispanics go from 1,365 to 792, Asian-Americans go from 2,358 to 3,564.

Why do Asian-Americans have to bear a disproportionate burden to benefit the other groups?

Harvard Asians tend not to be legacy nor athletic. Would it kill them to put on some running shoes or have smarter parents?

Nerdy white trolls need not worry about having much a legacy.

Note that the analysis in Table 11 assumes the removal of race, legacy and athlete preferences but not other non-academic fudge factors that Harvard uses. If the admissions criteria were strictly academic (and I'm not saying they should or should not be), the consequences for racial composition would be ever more pronounced. See my comment below for details.

The amusing thing to me about the admissions scandals was all the kids signing up for rowing crew and sailing. These are expensive activities that only rich people can afford so it avoids competition and therefore meritocracy. I'd be more impressed with a kid that knew how to change the oil to his parents car or knew their way around a breaker box.

Pardon my ignorance, but how is rowing expensive? I gather that owning your own boat helps you improve your skills faster, but isnt rowing a team sport?

Seems to me that these are just more obscure and elitist rather than inherently biased in favor of the wealthy. A poor black kid could easily become a world class fencer, but there isnt a lot of interest in that sport in the inner city.

I admit that some sports are very capital intensive. This describes, for example, the wealth and race gaps between ice hockey and basketball.

Rowing for purposes of college admissions can mostly be done via a 2K time on the erg in your high school gym or the local Y. It's the classic easy way in if you're tall and fit, because colleges assume they can teach all the skill components of actual boat racing. It's the physique they need.

"Seems to me that these are just more obscure and elitist rather than inherently biased in favor of the wealthy. "

There's a lot to that, which makes it more an implicit bias in favor of the wealthy than an explicit one. (It's more explicitly a class bias.)

Doesn't really save it from criticism, though. It's related to the pointing out that something is "socially constructed" rather than inherent. Social constructed things that are very difficult to change are just as real as things with a biological basis.

The Bob Jones University precedent establishes that colleges that engage in racial discrimination are to be denied tax-exempt status by the IRS. Given Harvard very clearly discriminates against Asians, why are they still tax-exempt?

[Bob Jones University v. United States] establishes that colleges that engage in racial discrimination are to be denied tax-exempt status by the IRS. [Why is Harvard] still tax-exempt?

Good question.

This is probably up to the IRS in enforcing its regulations, and no individual citizen has standing to sue. But the Trump administration could nudge the IRS, which is in the executive branch.

I’m guessing that there is an argument that Bakke/Fisher type holdings that race can be used as one factor to promote the “compelling interest” of a more proportional student body give the IRS enough room to distinguish Bob Jones U from Harvard, UC, and almost every other university. Bob Jones U just up and refused to admit applicants in mixed marriages on religious grounds. So the facts are different enough to give the IRS wiggle room.

Agreed that schools may use race as an admissions factor, but the instant complaint alleges that Harvard deliberately gave Asians low personality scores to exclude them. This is outright invidious discrimination, unless one can demonstrate that Asians actually have poor personalities. Whites suffered this same fate to a somewhat lesser degree. Blacks and Hispanics were deliberately given star status for personality scores.

Bear in mind also that these scores were most often given without even meeting the student.

I fail to see how this qualifies as discrimination.

As Bill has demonstrated many times in these comment sections, Asians simply have terrible personalities when judged on a scientific scale. Bill has cited Card’s exhaustive econometric analysis. And any way you slice it, Asians simply are not as ... “human” as the rest of us.

Yes, the alumni interviews did not demonstrate a statistically significant difference when said alumni completed their personality evaluation forms. But when the admissions committee gathered together in person it was clear that they collectively and scientifically rated Asians as boring, unfit for leadership, and yellow automatons lacking creativity.

Veritas! Vote blue across the board, for justice!

What's the "this" in "this seems wrong"?
The paper and its findings?
Or the ALDC process?

When I went to law school they told us that statistically the side with more money usually wins a lawsuit. Is this wrong too? I say "might makes right", people vote with the dollars, it's the free market at work. Speaking as somebody who graduated from both a public school and a private one (I have several diplomas).

Anti-virtue signalling.

The vast majority of civil cases settle.

Which arguably means "Plaintiff always wins something." It's just a question of degree and cost-effectiveness. Plaintiffs don't necessarily spend less because they have less to spend, they spend less because that maximizes their return on capital.

There is a mixed bag of truth to this. Money obviously buys talent and prestige in attorneys, but it also buys time and dedication to your case.

Public defenders are often swamped with cases. But so too are us prosecutors. We could choose to reduce our caseload through pre-trial agreements or dropping charges, while public defenders could not. This gives an enormous advantage to private defense attorneys, regardless of hourly rate, but especially those who can afford to devote time and effort to the defense. A defense attorney with sufficient resources could make prosecutors miserable through motion practice. It is more fatigue and tactical factors than knowledge of law. But they do amass a file of pre-packaged motions and cases to pull out when the need arises.

I’m glad we finally have numbers for this, but this has been common knowledge for at least 20 years. Nevertheless, most people still regard the Harvard undergraduate degree as the most prestigious degree, even more so than schools like CalTech, MIT, or the University of Chicago with more merit-based admissions. Isn’t that a market judgment that Harvard’s admissions policies are successful at creating a respected student body? It’s also notable that Asians haven’t attempted to found their own Asian institutions like Jews or blacks did when faced with discrimination; instead they still overwhelmingly want to go to Harvard.

Asians tend to be culturally passive. They take the conditions given to them. This might work in Asia but in the West, the loudest gets heard. They could learn a lot from blacks and Jews.

"culturally passive"

Is that what you call someone who is not an extroverted bs-artist a-hole jerk?

One of my family went to Harvard and he turned out bad. He decided at if he couldn't get into Harvard Law (which he didn't), he might as well become a street criminal (which he did). That's what Harvard does to people. I "went to" Harvard too, although as a researcher for a year, not a student. I simply requested that they open their facilities to me, and they did. I was under the impression that almost anyone (almost anyone) could do the same.
"Every game has its rules", to quote a well-known pedophile (you all know whom I talking about).

One wonders what ending these preferences would do to alumni donations (and possibly faculty retention).

Because Harvard's $37 billion endowment, $500 million in annual federal research grants, etc. isn't nearly big enough!

Well, yes; that's the whole purpose of legacy admissions. That's where the endowment came from. The University would presumably say that legacy admissions are what funds the need-blind admissions available to others.

There will be a delay, but over time this has got to affect Harvard’s reputation among the public and among potential employers, in the same way that affirmative action makes people leary of black graduates of elite universities (or at least that portion of black graduates who are descendants of slaves and not recent immigrants).

On the other hand, prior to WWII and the SAT, Harvard was just this sort of mishmash of eggheads, jocks, geniuses, and dumb preppies. Back to their roots (with the addition of Jews)!

While always prestigious, Harvard and the other Ivies have always been a Mutual Admiration Society for the privileged. Nothing has really changed. Indeed, on average, the students are extraordinary. That's what usually happens from twelve years of private schooling.

Would be interesting to compare the stats of non-ALDC admits coming from private high schools vs. those from publics, including public magnets.

I don't think just removing the ALDC standards would actually change the numbers of white students admitted, it would only change their identity. In other words, it would just be a different group of white students that weren't family members of staff, weren't athletes, and weren't the children of alumni.

So if you are white but you don't have an in at Harvard, you're pretty much out of luck no matter how smart you are?

By the way, I'm sure Harvard and the other universities with over $10 billion endowments have done in-depth modeling of which applicants can be expected to donate the highest net present value to the endowment. Have these models ever been leaked? I had somebody who'd worked on one describe it to me, but has one ever been published.

My impression is that the biggest donors to colleges tend to be straight white male Republican legacy jock fraternity boys with children or grandchildren who also attend the Alma Mater as legacies: basically, Haven Monahan.

This is kind of related to the question I have. Once you discount the ALDCs, is there even still an "Asian score penalty" relative to White?

One measure is Table 5 Panel B that shows the percentage of students given a 2 or higher rating for the different categories. Basically a larger percentage of non-ALDC Asian admissions received a high rating in academics and extracurricular than non-ALDC Whites, Hispanics, and Blacks. So there is still an Asian penalty.

Not to mention low personality scores for the Asians.

Raw SAT would probably be more interesting, since subjective academics rating can get padded out by academic effort that does not necessarily represent raw ability in the matter of a SAT (X does spelling bees, blah blah blah sort of thing). I want the stuff that can't be padded out by grinding. But I thank you for the pointer nonetheless.

Raw admit rate for White non-ALDC is certainly than for Asian non-ALDC, 4.89% vs 5.13%. So it would be useful to look at applicant rate relative to SAT - does the Asian non-ALDC set applying to Harvard have lower or high SAT than the White non-ALDC ?

Gerald and Ronny Chan gave $350 million to Harvard. Not sure what their politics were but they weren't white legacy jock frat boys.

Harvard's model assuming it exists would be skating as it were to where the puck's going to be. That means China.

Monsieur Anecdote, Puis-je vous présenter mon grand ami le Marqui du Data.

Steve, from table 11 in the paper, they estimate about 4800 admissions from the model and 4600 with no legacy admissions. That doesn't seem like that much of a difference all things considered.

Ah, but, John Hall, there's no reason to conclude that the 4600 with no legacy admissions are a subset of the 4800 admissions with the current model. The result entirely depends on how many of the 4800 are legacy admits that would not be a part of the 4600. It could easily be a huge difference.

If, say, half the 4800 with legacy admissions are legacy admits, and half of those 2400 would not be admitted under a fair system, then the 4600 would feature 1000 admits who were not admitted under the 4800, replacing 1200 legacies.

Athletes don't "have an in at Harvard." You can argue about whether we should value those merits, but they are getting in on the basis of some sort of merit.

Removing preferences for athletes and legacies would significantly alter the racial distribution of admitted students, with the share of white admits falling and all other groups rising or remaining unchanged

There are lots of interesting things in the reports Arcidiacono wrote as an expert witness in the Students for Fair Admissions vs. Harvard case, so it's disappointing that for his academic work he's leveraging this experience for fashionable anti-white race baiting. By focusing on athletes and legacies, he is giving the false impression that those two categories of preferential admission have a big effect on the racial demographics of elite colleges.

A more illuminating result is seen in Table 5.3R of Arcidiacono's rebuttal expert report. The table shows that if Harvard selected students based on strictly academic criteria, the admitted class would be roughly 35% white, 1% black, 3% Hispanic and 52% Asian. In other words, eliminating preferences would substantially decrease the white share and greatly increase the Asian share, while Hispanics and especially blacks would be almost completely wiped out.

That table demonstrates the dilemmas that elite colleges are facing. If they adopted meritocratic admissions standards, their student bodies would be shockingly lacking in diversity. This is simply a reflection of the low average IQs of Hispanics and blacks and the effect that fact has on the racial/ethnic composition of the right tail of America's IQ distribution. Given the great moral significance that the modern liberal ethos gives to having significant numbers of black people in particular hanging around in elite spaces, meritocracy must give way to diversity.

On the other hand, by importing millions of Asians, many of them from the upper crusts of their own societies, America's cognitive upper class has become disproportionately Asian. This means that the traditional white elites of America who, among other things, created those elite educational institutions, have trouble getting their progeny admitted without a thumb on the scale.

Is it a problem if the American elite will increasingly consist of recent transplants from Asia with no deep roots in the country? I think it's generally a bad idea if elites are so detached from the general population. Also looking at, say, India, it's obvious that a ruling class consisting of Indians is a horrendous idea.

+1. That's exactly what I'd expect. A category 5 Steve Sailor event.

This is America. We shouldn't be having an aristocratic system in the first place. The Bush clan has produced some of the worst Presidents and they all come from the old aristocracy. It is no wonder Americans from Jefferson all the way to Warren Buffett think a hereditary elite is a bad idea. So work towards reducing the influence of the old kingmaking institutions (including Harvard) then work towards better more dynamic signals of merit like the market for newly formed companies or crowd-funding for non-profit work. If the winners are of immigrant extraction so what? Does Elon Musk lack deep roots because he came from Africa? Does the ruling class of Indian-American CEOs at Microsoft and Google make those companies "horrendous" instead of the trillion dollar enterprises they are now? No and no.

The Iron law of Oligarchy binds all institutions. Dread it, run from it, Oligarchy still arrives.

Exactly. Also, the idea that running a country takes the same skills and dispositions that a good CEO would have is precisely the problem (and neither Microsoft nor Google was founded by Indians).

I've seen somewhere that the SAT scores of legacy admits isn't all that different then the Harvard average. So I don't think it's a massive crime against meritocracy. My guess is that there are lots of applicants with the right SAT scores but the sons and daughters of wealthy and powerful people get tie breakers in their favors.

According to Table 11 completely eliminating legacy and athlete would only reduce white share by 3%, mostly coming out of Asians (black would remain unchanged). This is hardly a big deal inter-race (though as Sailer points out, within white people its an exclusive club).

Which makes sense, Harvard isn't selling education. It's selling a social network. Even those Asian kids need to share a student body with rich white/jewish kids so they have someone to fund their startup and introduce them to there right people. Matching talent with money is part of what Harvard does, and it doesn't help the talent if there is no money on campus.

Hispanics haven't been here that long, and blacks aren't really a part of our society. What do these people do on campus besides either become tokens on the investment banking track or go into grievance studies and actively make our society worse. Diversity doesn't make us better.

According to the same table the distribution if you eliminate legacy, athlete, and race (but not some other games they do) you get 50% White, 4.4% Black, 8.1% Hispanic, and 36.6% Asian. That's a bit more diverse than pure meritocracy, but probably a lot fairer and more stable. Blacks being way out of proportion at 13.8% (probably ten times their merit) is a big part of the problem, and not even very justifiable on representation grounds (they aren't that big a % of the population).

Also note that despite being a firm majority of the population, whites will be a minority at Harvard (note that perhaps 50% of the white numbers are really Jewish).

Imagine you are born, raised, grow up in, live in, and have all of your friends and family in some country. You spend your whole life reading or hearing stuff like the quote above, applying to the color your skin happens to have, through no fault or agency of your own.

Is it crazy to think you might have some difficulty in that country? Maybe you'll have a chip on your shoulder, and think the system is biased against you? Nah, that's crazy.

The system wildly favors blacks in every single possible way and they are treated like gods. But their genetics are so bad most can't succeed despite these advantages, and they take this fact out on the whites that desperately try everything they can to list them up.

At a certain point you just have to admit they are fundamentally intransigent.

Have a nice day.

Never fear, fellow Americans

We can still band together and

Agree to exclude Asians from schools

Vote Democrat in 2020 to federalize an Asian quota of 3% for the top 50 Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges. Together we can protect our education system!! Vote Blue, no matter who!!

Have the mettle to quota the yellow! - Biden 2020

No funds for schools

For over 5% Yellow

My kids can’t compete with automatons

India has done drastically better under its decades of an Indian ruling class than under its centuries of an elite white ruling class.

Judging by Singapore, I also wonder if an East Asian ruling class might also be better for America.

India has done drastically better under its decades of an Indian ruling class than under its centuries of an elite white ruling class.

Damning with faint praise. And is that even true? For example, it seems that malnutrion is worse in India than sub-Saharan Africa these days. But if you're right, your point does underline the importance of an elite having their roots in the country. (India had a white ruling class for 150 years max, not centuries.)

Judging by Singapore, I also wonder if an East Asian ruling class might also be better for America.

That's not on offer, but why do you think an authoritarian city state would be a good model for governance in America? If you are hankering for less democracy and fewer civil rights, wouldn't PRC be an even better model?

If you like levels of absolute consumption welfare that are at the Western European average (not their urban area average), at urban densities like New York, and which have shown no growth since 2008 the financial crisis, while foreign profits soar as % of GDP, then Singapore may be for you.

Socially you'll also get free speech chilling racial speech laws and a number of other restrictions as well (forget about drinking much, or having a car), if that's your thing...

"This means that the traditional white elites of America who, among other things, created those elite educational institutions, have trouble getting their progeny admitted without a thumb on the scale. "

That would be true even without Asians because enrollment has not increased. I had 2 uncle go to Brown and one to Yale, but no one in our generation could get in to those schools in the 1960's and 70's before many Asians came and that though some were pretty smart and accomplished.

I also think it doesn't matter that Asians dominate (I wish we could Asian levels of sensibleness in Government).
The USA Government should admit that there are really just 2 ethnic groups that matter in the USA, blacks and non-blacks. Everyone else intermarries and adopts the majority culture fast. You could even add recent immigrant blacks to non-blacks group.

This isn’t true. Whites have the lowest rate of intermarriage. And while Asians have the highest intermarriage rate, it is still a minority and there is a huge gender gap—Asian men have a lower rate of intermarriage than black men.

That doesn't hold for the UK - Asians intermarry most, with whites. Whites intermarry a moderate amount, with Asians and some blacks, Blacks intermarry a small amount, with whites. Indians intermarry rarely, and Pakistanis marry their cousin's goat.

What are you talking about? Asian-Americans are significantly underrepresented among the US elite and ruling class. They are less than 3% of Congress. There’s never been an Asian president or Supreme Court justice.

Just going to Harvard does not make you an elite or ruling class. Most Harvard students end up with unremarkable middle/upper-middle class lives.

"And that our “liberal elite” (not my preferred term, but what you see in the discourse and I don’t know which other referent to use) has failed us?"

We should all enjoy Tyler while we can. One day, this website will suddenly be gone, and no-one will say they remember a Prof Cowen working about here.....

...and the site will then mysteriously redirect you where the terrible consequences of thoughtcrime and heterocognition will be explained by bright, cheerful, animations.

The sentence struck me as a bit funny, given that Tyler is a Harvard (PhD) man himself.

>“liberal elite” (not my preferred term, but what you see in the discourse and I don’t know which other referent to use)

This is the best part of the post. In it, Tyler reveals that "liberal elite" is both the most accurate term imaginable, and one that he is uncomfortable using. He is disturbed by using the most accurate term he can imagine!

Why is this? Probably because the liberal elite have failed us repeatedly and spectacularly, at universities, in border policy, in Obamacare, in running Chicago/Detroit/San Francisco.... and it's the group that Tyler continuously supports, and yearns to be a part of. Best not to label it so clearly, eh?

I was looking for the phrase that would perfectly encapsulate TPM's idiocy. But it's simple above, where he claims San Francisco, the city of billionaires and global prominence, is a 'failure'. And before you bring up anecdotes about the shitty parts of SF, note that there are parts of Houston, Charlotte, and Cincinnati just as shitty.

Harvard and the ivies are really vile, irredeemable institutions.

You can be admit tens of thousands of students and still be an exceptional university. See UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan, for example.

Harvard's business model has been extraordinarily successful, so I'm not going to question or criticize it. The admission criteria are designed to perpetuate Harvard's status, and it works! Not only is Harvard ranked as one of the best colleges (behind only Princeton in this year's US News rankings), the Harvard endowment is approaching $40 billion, by far the largest (Yale is next with less than $30 billion). Should our leading colleges be required to adopt admission criteria designed to reduce inequality?

Harvard is to academics what Kennedys are to politics. With that name, resources and launch pad, there are no excuses for failure and every reason to question whether the reputation is deserved, but it hardly matters if it isnt.

Did we really need a research paper to know that people admitted based on non-academic criteria would likely fail to meet the academic criteria?

The ALDC stats by race say nothing other than "there was racial disparity in faculty and admissions in the past, so there is some racial disparity today because of it." This isnt a compelling reason to rid admissions of ALDCs, just to reach arbitrary diversity goals. Why would a school NOT want to reward legacies, donors, faculty, and athletes? What are the costs of not doing so? Thos costs are far greater than being underrepresented in the arbitrary, nonacademic characteristics of race and sex.

Are athletic admissions in Harvard disproportionately white? Seems odd.

"What are the costs of not doing so?"

The costs are being CalTech (which rewards NONE of those) instead of Harvard. When it comes to being in politics or making the right friends, perhaps that is too much of a cost.

"Are athletic admissions in Harvard disproportionately white? Seems odd."

Yes, absolutely. Why does that seem odd, that's true at most universities. The high profile "revenue sports" are mostly black, but there's a lot of scholarship spots for lower profile sports, and those are disproportionately white.

You're not really clear about on what dimension the "liberal elite" has "failed us."

The craziest thing to me is from Table 6 which shows how hard it is for Asian applicants to be accepted into Harvard.

An Asian American in the TOP academic decile (10th, acceptance rate: 12.7%) has less than half the chance of acceptance as an African American 4 deciles below (6th, acceptance rate: 29.7%).

Think carefully about footnote 9 on page 5. My guess is that everyone is underestimating (at least publicly) the effect of alumni being the interviewers.

It is typical for academics to underestimate the value and importance of sports. Athletes learn teamwork, leadership, and grit.

If anything, colleges would have a better result if they made competitive team sports mandatory every year for every student.

There has never been an elite that did not seek to benefit itself, and particularly its children. The mistake is to assume that liberal elites, educated elites, black, white, yellow or green elites would behave any different than an elite defined only by income or wealth.

If we want diverse and fair admissions, establish tests of ability that demonstrate whether a candidate is capable of thriving in freshmen classes at that institution (write an essay, do some math, demonstrate a grasp of history and geography). Everyone who meets the threshold is put in a pool, from which the entering class is selected at random. No athletics, no extra-curriculars, no legacies.

When Harvard talks about choosing future leaders, that translates fairly directly into choosing the children of today's leaders, i.e. perpetuating the ruling class.

Sampling of my son’s high school graduating class going on to “top” schools (HYPS- eight kids, all white, all athletic recruits in “white sports”, good students, but not in the top of the class, well to do parents), MIT (Asian, brilliant),..........Cal And UCLA (dozens of Asians all with perfect GPAs and high test scores- and rejected from Ivies).

In SoCal the white folks begin this sport thing around age five. They concentrate on distance running, crew, lacrosse, volleyball (especially beach for the girls), soccer, crew, and especially water polo and swimming. The sports are year round with expensive club dues, camps, personal trainers and coaches.

For fun look at the rosters of the water polo teams at Princeton, Stanford and Harvard. Almost a perfect sampling of the richest and whitest California zip codes. And the roster pictures look like a dream of the Aryan Nation- which no doubt helps clamp down on the angst of the older wealthy alums who fear an Asian takeover.

In general I think the guiding force here is keeping Asian % below 20%. You can admit as many brown people as you like, but none of them really belong or have the ability to challenge white elites. They are ultimately dismissible servants. Meanwhile, if Asians ever get a really strong foothold in the elite they are capable of turning on and replacing whites (I'm going to include jews in white for this purpose).

You could easily take 5% chunks out of White, Hispanic, and Black to get Asians to a more meritocratic 35% and remain pretty "diverse", but that wouldn't achieve the goal of keeping the Bamboo Ceiling intact.

+1 (from across the country). It's not going to get you any scholarship money, but I've just come to the realization (my youngest is now a senior in HS, and not an athlete) that for a lot of colleges, because they want to field teams in all of these sports (including a lot of sports that skew to the rich), they give a huge admissions preference to competent athletes in those sports. If you look at small liberal arts colleges, it's a huge percentage of their admits (no exaggeration, over 30% of the freshman class plays a varsity sport at some schools - we visited one school where they said it was something like 36 or 37%)

Wow, just wow. The authors dont include personal ratings in their analysis which is precisely where the plaintiffs allege the discrimination took place. They claim that personal rating does not alter the results, but that cant possibly be true.

Talk about omitted variable bias!

The personality rating thing is appalling. Funny how it gets so little press.

Page 62: " Finally, Harvard’s personal rating is a subjective measure of an applicant’s leadership skills and courage. This is a highly contentious variable, since there is ample evidence that the personal rating is heavily influenced by preferences for ALDCs and particular racial groups. As a result, we estimate admissions models with and without this variable."

Personal ratings are also listed in Table 5. White admits have the highest personal ratings for non-ALDC and Black admits have the highest personal ratings for LDC. Asians are the lowest in each of these two categories. The authors even mention that the criteria for personal ratings were "surprisingly vague" which of course limits any kind of conclusion you can draw for Harvard's selection process. But as noted above, they still incorporated it into a few of their models.

Does the son of a Harvard janitor get the same admissions preference as the son of a Harvard faculty, all else being equal.

Does the illegitimate child of a Harvard alum get preference? What if he is a large donor, but doesn't speak with the child or denies paternity? And, 23andMe establishes he is the father?

Does a cousin qualify as a descendant on the theory that one drop of blood establishes the qualifying bloodline?

Does a child of two Harvard alums get a double preference?

What if your grandfather, and father were Harvard alums and a building was named after your grandfather?

And more importantly

How do we as a moral society

Keep the yellow automatons out

Oh Man, I didn't catch the missing term in 'Removing preferences for athletes and legacies'... But this guy did:

It’s notable that so many progressives, including here the Harvard administration, have become professional racists, i.e. making their living discriminating on the basis of race.

They have fallen a long way from the moral high ground of content of character over color of skin.

Why does this seem wrong to you? All colleges require people smart enough to make a lot of money and dumb enough to donate it back to their alma mater. A bunch of geniuses and their intersectional sidekicks don't fit the bill.

This is equally true of the public university I attended, which is also rich as Croesus. Success is measured in building projects, and dreaming up initiatives that are hiring opportunities.

Just don't throw away the books or demo the old buildings. The people don't much matter.

If you compare "Panel B: Racial Distribution of Applicants by ALDC Status", to the % of population at college age (, then you find some interesting ratios:

Ratio to General Population

***** Non-ALDC Athlete Legacy Dean’s List Faculty/Staff
White 0.75 1.28 1.27 1.26 0.99
African American 0.78 0.77 0.38 0.26 0.23
Hispanic 0.57 0.21 0.26 0.26 0.28
Asian American 4.72 1.44 1.76 1.98 4.38

Asians actually "recruit" all the mechanisms involved at a higher per capita rate than Whites (just as African Americans and Hispanics recruit the mechanisms less). There are more Asian "athletes", relative to gpop than White "athletes" and more Asian "legacies" than White legacies, relative to gpop.

But as the degree they do so is lesser than their stonking overall application level it still reflects an under-representation relative to a world in which these mechanisms did not exist.

It doesn't seem like upper-class Whites particularly recruit these mechanisms relative to Asians, instead they recruit them quite a bit less. But rather they are inherently leveling to Whites relative to academic intensification, where the gap is even larger.

Though this is less the case compared to other minorities, where the gap in ALDC is larger or comparable to non-ALDC.

Above ratios, normalizing Hispanic to 1:
Asian: Non ALDC - 8.2, Athletes - 6.85, Legacy - 6.76, Dean's List - 7, Faculty - 15.64.
White: Non ALDC - 1.3, Athletes - 6, Legacy - 4.8, Dean's List - 4.84, Faculty - 3.53.

Now, above is only application ratios, but let's look at admit ratios compared to the general population:

Pop Non-ALDC Athlete Legacy Dean’s List Faculty/Staff
White 0.67 1.28 1.28 1.24 0.97
AfricanAm 1.09 0.75 0.32 0.20 0.10
Hispanic 0.65 0.21 0.27 0.26 0.25
AsianAm 4.44 1.43 1.83 2.22 4.48

Pretty similar in most categories. Now let's look at population adjusted ratios of application to admission:

Pop Non-ALDC Athlete Legacy Dean’s List Faculty/Staff
White 0.90 1.00 1.01 0.98 0.98
AfricanAm 1.39 0.98 0.84 0.76 0.43
Hispanic 1.13 1.01 1.05 0.98 0.91
AsianAm 0.94 0.99 1.04 1.12 1.02

Asians are about equally successful to using all routes as Whites, and they use all routes per capita more than Whites (again not the case that they only use academics more and other means less, per capita)... but despite all this they'd still be better off under an system without these routes (except faculty / staff admits).

“White” is a weasel word here, given that something like 20%-25% of the student body is Jewish. “White” also includes Muslims, Armenians, and other distinct minorities. The real story is that gentile whites are dramatically underrepresented at Harvard and most elite schools, and that’s doubly true for heterosexual gentile whites.

Also, being both intelligent and good at sports is impressive and a noble goal. I have no problem with athletes getting an admissions edge, so long as they are still capable of rigorous academic work. It’s certainly more justifiable than giving preference for having been born to a faculty family.

I still feel Harvard basically knows what it's doing - they're smart over there, after all, it would be a mistake to outthink them - but I looked at the various twitter threads that delved into this model, you can follow the same trail by starting with that which "AB" pasted above.

From there, I noticed Matt Yglesias musing - in response to what, I'm not sure, maybe the Packer piece - his wonderment that people expend so much effort worrying about their kids' schools (presumably he feels the bright-enough kids of his cohort will make good grades, and friends, anywhere - maybe even better grades than they might have, heh-heh, etc.; only someone who took a great deal of interest in report cards would so reduce the matter, but of course his wife will have the final say on such matters, probably conveniently).

And Matt Y. is sure "privilege" full stop will accompany them wherever they go, like Raleigh's cape shedding pearls. He's probably right.

I have some slight sympathy for this view. Those of us who are fundamentally lazy can easily be made tired watching people scramble when it seems pretty obvious they wouldn't be able to say precisely why they're so scrambling.

But with its buried info about elite-white class-and-status preservation at the expense of not just or perhaps even mostly Asians *but other whites*. this paper briefly shines a flashlight, before quickly dropping it and backtracking, on the plain fact that Tyler's "liberal elite" can be so ecstatically accommodating of admission preferences for the simple reason that they've baked in their own. With the masterstroke that if they're called on it, they can just melt back into the crowd, shifting the blame onto generic "whiteness." I do not think Tyler's judgment that "they failed us" quite captures it, though. Who is "us", exactly? At any rate, say not that they failed to look out for themselves.

And no, no little kid ever wanted that badly to learn to row, or excel at water polo.

Remember that sad woman T.C. linked to a few months ago, trying to awaken to pleasure and pain from all the pharmaceuticals she had been on since her teens? I admired her trying to salvage things for herself and others, but the only sentence I can remember from the piece is "She was playing the best squash of her life" (!).

The game is not over - it will never be over - even if Matt Y. thinks he's called it, and why are y'all still trying to enter the lists?

Comments for this post are closed