Although incompetence is generally more likely than malevolence, we should consider the possibility that woke Admissions departments prefer the essay because it gives the greatest scope for the reviewer to put his thumb on the scale. How are we going to look at two essays and tell him which one he 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘢𝘭π˜₯ have liked?

Expand full comment

What it the purpose of pre-admission testing and interview for universities? I think the primary reason would be to make sure the applicant has the knowledge, skills and ambition to successfully complete the coursework, obtain the degree, and go out into the world with a potential for lucrative employment. To be sure, elite universities have and probably still do, cater to the elite population. After all, they are the ones with all the money. Now, with all the focus on diversity and inclusion, they are being forced to at least give the impression of being open and available to any student of any background.

Yet, the glaring truth of it is that students of even modest background, despite being intelligent and industrious, may not have the time or finances to take advantage of methods to increase their SAT scores or their essay writing skills. One cannot even imagine the hurdles faced by a Native American from a reservation, a Black teenager from an inner city or a rural Appalachian White kid. And then the question becomes, does admission and matriculation from this elite university even give these individuals that much of an advantage when it comes to future job or professional prospects? Does a medical degree from Harvard make one a better doctor than a degree from a smaller state medical college? Does a degree from Harvard in Gender and Diversity studies make that person more marketable than one in Computer Science from a less revered college or university?

I think it's time we as a nation look at the whole of education from K-12 and beyond to decide what is important for our children to know to be successful in a competitive world, and also understand that not everyone can or should go to college. If we don't put more emphasis on basic math, reading and science skills, we will have a very poorly educated population. To emphasize training in social issues is not the job of our schools, either public, private or universities.

Diversity should really focus on diversity of thought, not ethnicity, color or religion. If we continue down this path, we will end up with a nation of very poorly educated Social Justice Warriors, who will not even be able to articulate clearly, or give independent though to exactly what they are fighting for.

Expand full comment
Apr 28, 2022Β·edited Apr 28, 2022

The only problem I have with this article is that, while there might seem to be reason to worry that reliance on an essay portion would, in theory, make things more biased toward the wealthy and privileged (and by implication, white applicants), it's difficult to believe that this is how it would work in practice. Which is not at all to say that I'm in favor of it - quite the opposite.

As Maurer points out, whatever the SAT's flaws (which are exaggerated, in my view) it is objective, and it yields a quantitative measurement. And in recent decades it has been complemented with things like essays and interviews - entirely subjective measures which combine to create a "human" component to an applicant's score.

The Supreme Court's 1978 ruling on racial quota systems, if nothing else, is clear on one thing: race cannot be a deciding factor in elevating an applicant over another if by every other consideration the other applicant is more qualified. You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to realize that this creates an obvious incentive for those who favor racial "equity" to create a malleable and unaccountable element to judging someone's "qualification" - and that this is precisely what a "human" component gives you.

The uniformity with which certain target racial proportions happen to be met under such systems is a bit too convenient, especially when one views how dramatically it warps the relative averages of SAT scores for accepted students according to racial category. College administrators openly boast of creating "vibrant" and diverse campus cultures, as if we're not supposed to notice how this completely subordinates fairness, aptitude, and anything that could reasonably described as in the best interests of students, as opposed to the college HR and PR departments.

And that goes for everyone, accepted and non-accepted alike. Ivy league colleges compete to woo more limited pools of black, Latino, and native American candidates for their own sake, expecting teachers to bite their tongues when they notice such students performing near the bottom of the class. The fact that such students would clearly benefit from attending a "lesser" school (where they will often learn just as much and stand a better chance of graduating) is secondary to the school being able to claim racial magnanimity and enlightenment.

I'm not saying that in the end, the essay will deliberately be manipulated to actually favor poorer candidates - that alone would hardly be the worst thing, as few people these days expect, or make efforts to effect, ivy league schools *not* favoring the wealthy. It could have that effect indirectly, but in any case it will almost certainly be used to bolster proportions of favored racial categories - at the expense of those students more deserving and to the ultimate detriment of those for whom standards are lowered. Which these days, ironically, often include even white students. After all, given that Harvard would be almost half Asian using SAT scores alone, one could be forgiven for suspecting that these subjective measures were actually a reactionary initiative similar to early 20th century efforts to keep universities from being dominated by Jewish students.

All of which is just as good a reason to oppose it as the possibility of making elite schools even more accessible to American aristocrats.

Expand full comment