Link of the Day – Affirmative Traction

With thanks to Prometheus6 and DarkStar:

The Boston Globe features an op-ed piece by the author of  Color and Money: How Rich White Kids are Winning the War over College Affirmative Action.  Peter Schmidt writes:

“Surf the websites of such institutions and you will find press releases boasting that they have increased their black and Hispanic enrollments, admitted bumper crops of National Merit scholars or became the destination of choice for hordes of high school valedictorians. Many are bragging about the large share of applicants they rejected, as a way of conveying to the world just how popular and selective they are.

What they almost never say is that many of the applicants who were rejected were far more qualified than those accepted. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, it was not the black and Hispanic beneficiaries of affirmative action, but the rich white kids with cash and connections who elbowed most of the worthier applicants aside.

Researchers with access to closely guarded college admissions data have found that, on the whole, about 15 percent of freshmen enrolled at America’s highly selective colleges are white teens who failed to meet their institutions’ minimum admissions standards.”

Researchers found:

“White students who failed to make the grade on all counts were nearly twice as prevalent on such campuses as black and Hispanic students who received an admissions break based on their ethnicity or race.”

And Schmidt asks the right question:

“Who are these mediocre white students getting into institutions such as Harvard, Wellesley, Notre Dame, Duke, and the University of Virginia?”

Well?  Who are you?  Step forward.  Grab the mic.  Explain yourselves.


  1. That’s just the thing – in a lot of these cases, they’re not the children of alumni – they’re the children of politicians or the children of funders or the children of friends of friends of friends of politicians – and as we get farther and farther removed from folks with a “real” tie to the school, we get mired deeper in affirmative traction. Harvard and others should consider themselves STUCK.

  2. “Connections” come in a variety of ways, as you have pointed out T3…and this is where that whole “we have to be twice as good” crap…doesn’t mean squat. Its one thing to score a 30 on the ACT as opposed to “Katie’s” 24…..but quite another barrier if Katie’s dad and the VP of Student Affairs are golfing buddies.

  3. I didn’t know any “blacks” were planning to support Ron Paul.

    Haven’t we always known this was the case. It’s nice to have empirical support for our intuition – but honestly, it’s just another layer in the cake.

  4. As someone who attended one of those schools, the answer to “Who are these mediocre white kids?” is fairly simple; They are the George W. Bushes of the world. They are the legacy children. They are those whose futures were bought and paid for. Not earned. Bought.

    The end.

  5. Here’s a question though:

    If you had the capability – and teamowens313 may – to provide this advantage to your children, would you?

  6. Jonolan,

    I don’t have any children of my own, however a good friend of mine who was probably the most radical among us back in the day – and who remains far left of center politically – has his younger son enrolled at Andover. He and I both went through hell at Phillips Exeter Academy, but we also came to realize as we got older how a place like that can provide some serious benefits, especially with a parent aware of the pitfalls. I would never recommend it for any kid, because schools like that can eat certain children alive and they never are quite right afterward. But if it’s a strong-minded kid with wwatchful parents? Oh hell yeah. Nothing like the experience of getting up close and personal to the future wielders of power to see and understand how that mentality operates. And to learn how not to be intimidated by it but how to use it.

  7. I have the capability to provide that advantage to my children. As they’re only 4 months old, I don’t know that they’ll be the abject failures these folks have amounted to. I certainly hope not.

    If your question is whether or not I would violate my ethical code to send my children to an elite Western institution, the answer is probably not – it’s not a definite – but the game of education is rigged from pre-school…so, it’s all relative.

    Whichever decision I make, I won’t be conflicted about it for a minute…but that’s beside the point.

    The real question is whether or not I’d blow the whistle if I were an admissions officer entrusted with meeting the obligations of FEDERAL dollars (private school) and the public trust (public school). The answer to that is hell yes.

    These folks are not merely advocating for their children…they’re breaking the law, robbing from the public till – and advancing positions opposed to educational equity and merit. That’s the nature of the beast – and it’s ugly.

  8. You pointed out a few schools that are considered “elite”…but I would bet this is more prevalent at those state universities and colleges that we watch every Saturday afternoon in the fall…your Univ of Texas, Georgia, Alabama…the Florida State’s of the world. I’ve seen firsthand the extent of their “connection” reach…its as simple as a Junior League fundraiser.

  9. All,

    I was just wondering about it. We all complain when we feel others have and advantage over us, but how many of us wouldn’t take that same advantage if we could? I know that, had I the capability, I would get my kids in as “legacies” in a major institution if I thought they couldn’t make it in on their own.

    It was just something I was thinking about…

  10. I think you raise some great points. Too bad this nation and its delusional citizenry masquerade as if they reside in a democracy/meritocracy.

  11. “I was just wondering about it. We all complain when we feel others have and advantage over us, but how many of us wouldn’t take that same advantage if we could?”

    Absolutley they would.

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