With Merit-based College Admissions, “53% of Incoming Students Would be Replaced”

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The dirty little secret about “elite” universities is that they’re not so elite. It’s not just the politically correct curricula, either, as a new study shows that if SAT scores alone determined admissions, our nation’s most prestigious universities “would be wealthier, whiter, and more male,” as Zero Hedge summarizes it.

Moreover, this is without even factoring in the new smoke-and-mirrors “adversity score,” a new way to effect anti-white, race-based discrimination without actually calling it “quotas” or “affirmative action” (which themselves are euphemisms).

The study, SAT-Only Admission: How Would It Change College Campuses? was conducted by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) and was released late last month. Shockingly, the researchers found that if “the nation’s top 200 colleges only admitted students with the highest SAT scores, 53% of incoming students would be replaced,” reports CEW’s Georgetown website.


As to what inspired the research, “In the wake of the college admissions scandal, our thought experiment tested whether removing legacy and social capital from the admissions equation would have a more equitable outcome,” said Dr. Anthony P. Carnevale, CEW director and the report’s lead author. The result?

“With test-only admissions, the share of White students at these top colleges would rise from 66% to 75%; the combined share of Black and Latino students would decrease from 19% to 11%; and the share of Asian students would fall slightly, from 11% to 10%,” the CEW informs.

“‘If we tested students, then lined ’em up and let ’em in, America’s top colleges would become less racially diverse on the basis of small differences in test scores,’ said Jeff Strohl, CEW director of research and co-author of the report,” the CEW further relates.

Yet the reality is, as the CEW also tells us, that test-only “admissions would raise the median SAT score at the top 200 colleges from 1250 to 1320.” Small differences?


Here’s an actual small difference: “More than half of students no longer qualified to attend as a result of test-only admissions would come from top-quartile socioeconomic status (SES) families,” the CEW writes. “In their place, only students with SAT scores higher than 1250 would be admitted, slightly raising the share of top-quartile SES students from 60% to 63%.”

Dr. Carnevale claims this is a problem, saying that “a test-only admissions policy would only further privilege in the higher education system.” But is a three-percent difference in high-income students enough to justify admissions’ manipulation? Is this really about the three percent, or is there another agenda?

Let’s start by acknowledging that the SAT — and this can be true of any test — may not be a perfect yardstick for determining qualifications. In fact, years ago it was altered for, at least in part, the purposes of making it more “girl friendly” (because boys scored higher).

Yet note that the original SAT was designed as a sort of I.Q. test, and I.Q. is the best known predictor of future academic and career success. Moreover, the SAT is a yardstick the same for everyone; this isn’t true of grading, the toughness of which varies from school to school (one institution’s A is another’s B). In fact, the “social promotion” rife in many inner-city schools can make grades attained there relatively meaningless.

A hint as to the real agenda lies in how researchers buried a certain finding; in fact, they didn’t mention it at all in their press release. To wit: Merit-alone admissions would make student bodies not only wealthier and whiter, but also more male.

Because girls are just as likely as boys to come from high-income homes, this contradicts the researchers’ narrative (spin) that merit-alone would only serve to increase the ranks of the “privileged”; it also does not support their implied thesis that “privilege” accounts for the higher SAT scores.

Yet there could be another agenda. It concerns stopping what Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson called Monday night a “quid pro quo” between “elite” universities and prominent Democrats.

As the Daily Caller reports, “Carlson described the fact that politicians — particularly Democrats — manage to get their children into elite Ivy League schools at an astonishingly disproportionate rate compared to the general public as ‘the real college scandal.’”

The host presented many examples, “including the Cuomo, Gore, Clinton, and Obama families, and juxtaposed the legality of that with Hollywood figures and others currently in legal trouble for trying to bribe their kids’ way into some of the same schools,” the Caller also informs.

The Gore family, do note, sent four kids to Harvard. As Carlson put it, “If you want to get into a top American college, it’s best to have a parent who’s a well-known Democratic politician. That’s the best credential of all” (video below).

Of course, institute purely merit-based admissions, and all this pseudo-elite favoritism goes bye-bye.

Carlson asked, rhetorically, how this scam could occur. “It happens because our meritocracy is a sham,” he said. “It’s fake. They tell you that only the most accomplished students get into these schools, but they’re lying.”

“Their friends’ kids get first dibs, fellow members of their social circle, kids whose families can help them down the road,” he continued. “The children of sympathetic politicians are an obvious priority for admissions officers. These are the same politicians who funnel billions in tax dollars to colleges and universities every year. So, letting a senator’s kid into Harvard is smart business.”

It’s “smart” business that gives us fairly dumb pseudo-elites who give us the business. Of course, though, whether the days of royalty or today’s ruling class, the truly privileged never like meritocracy. They like a closed club.

Oh, as to the notion that these pseudo-elites are hobbling meritocracy because they care about “minorities,” just ask: When was the last time one of them gave his own elite position to a black guy?

Image: zimmytws via iStock / Getty Images Plus

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