Harvard admissions lawsuit

Posted by: Bostonian

Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/16/18 12:17 PM

On the first day of trial, the plaintiffs have already demonstrated that Harvard has discriminated on the basis of race, with different PSAT thresholds by race for recruiting students.

Harvard Admissions Chief Defends Policies in First Day of Trial
Plaintiffs use internal documents to show different test scores used to target different ethnicities for recruitment
By Nicole Hong and Melissa Korn
Updated Oct. 15, 2018 11:27 p.m. ET
Wall Street Journal

BOSTON—Harvard University’s longtime admissions dean defended the school’s recruitment of prospective students in the first day of a landmark trial accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian-American applicants.

On Monday, lawyers for the plaintiffs focused on internal documents showing Harvard sends targeted letters to high-school students who score well on the PSAT, encouraging them to consider applying to the prestigious school. The score thresholds vary by race.

In a recent admissions year, white students in 20 underrepresented states—which Harvard calls “sparse country”—received a recruitment letter if they scored 1310 or higher out of a possible 1600 on the combined verbal and math components, according to the plaintiffs’ exhibit. In all U.S. states, Asian-American women had to score at least 1350 to receive a letter, while Asian-American men had to score at least 1380.

The PSAT is considered a preview of how a student may score on the SAT.

Black, Hispanic and Native American high-schoolers nationally who scored at least 1100 received a letter, the plaintiffs’ exhibit showed.

Students who qualify for these letters are twice as likely to be admitted as students who don’t qualify, according to a handbook provided to Harvard’s alumni interviewers.

William Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s admissions dean since 1986, defended the policy by saying the letters to white students in more rural states help the school recruit from areas where students may be less aware of Harvard. “We do everything we can to reach out to a much broader range of people,” he testified.

Mr. Fitzsimmons, 74 years old, said the lower thresholds for underrepresented minorities take into consideration how the “rather stark economic differences and opportunities” those students face may affect their ability to score higher on standardized tests.

...
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/17/18 08:11 AM

Here is an article about the second day of the trial. Colleges have the right to weigh personality alongside academic credentials, but I do wonder if students should be accepted based in part on perceptions of "unusual effervescence" (a quote from the article). Someone who is reserved but studious could still make good contributions to class discussions.

Harvard Cites Weaker Teacher Recommendations for Asian-American Applicants
Oct. 16, 2018 4:17 p.m. ET
Wall Street Journal


BOSTON—Harvard’s admissions dean testified Tuesday that weaker teacher and guidance-counselor recommendations are one reason why Asian-American applicants as a group score lower than white applicants in the “personal rating” portion of the school’s admissions process.

The rating, which assesses an applicant’s personal qualities, has been a central focus for the plaintiffs in a trial that began Monday accusing Harvard of intentionally discriminating against Asian-Americans. Harvard’s own data show Asian-American applicants as a group score higher than white applicants in academics and extracurriculars, but lower in the personal rating.

William Fitzsimmons, who has been Harvard’s admissions dean since 1986, said in federal court Tuesday that the lower rating wasn’t due to Asian-American applicants having fewer attractive personal qualities than white applicants. He said one reason for the gap could be due to “somewhat stronger” teacher and guidance-counselor recommendations given to white applicants.

He said he didn’t know if Asian-American applicants had weaker recommendations than African-American or Hispanic applicants. The plaintiffs say Asian-Americans have the lowest personal scores of any racial group.

U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs, an Obama appointee, will decide after the three-week trial whether Harvard’s admissions practices violate federal civil-rights law. Whether the judge accepts Mr. Fitzsimmons’s explanation could play a role in her decision. Harvard says its policies adhere to Supreme Court precedents.

The trial stems from a lawsuit filed in 2014 by Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit whose members include Asian-Americans rejected by Harvard. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have pushed Harvard to explain the racial gap in personal ratings, which they say is evidence of intentional discrimination. Harvard has said admissions officers don’t consider race in the personal rating.

The rating, according to Harvard, uses teacher recommendations, alumni interviews and student essays to consider whether an applicant will be a good roommate or could contribute to the campus community. Harvard’s admissions procedures ask readers to look for “consistent testimony of an applicant’s unusual effervescence, charity, maturity, or strength of character."

A chart displayed during Harvard’s opening statement showed teacher recommendations and alumni interviewer ratings matter much more in admissions decisions than race does.

The school has stressed throughout the litigation that each applicant is reviewed independently, and patterns across racial or ethnic groups aren’t the result of any broader discriminatory practice.

The gap between white and Asian-American applicants’ personal ratings was also cited in a 1990 report by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, which investigated Harvard for similar complaints. The report, referenced at length in Tuesday’s testimony, found Harvard didn’t discriminate against Asian-American applicants, but flagged racial stereotypes reflected in admissions officers’ comments.

Harvard’s admissions readers, who evaluate students’ applications, “quite often” described Asian-American applicants as shy, science- and math-oriented, and hard workers, the report said. One reader, for instance, wrote of an applicant: “He’s quiet and, of course, wants to be a doctor.”
Posted by: Thomas Percy

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/17/18 08:52 AM

Yep, one type of applicants were discriminated against for sure, the introverts.
Posted by: ruazkaz

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/17/18 09:13 AM

From what I have read, it seems at least two types of applicants were discriminated against, the introverts and the Asians...
Posted by: Val

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/17/18 12:55 PM

College admissions should be based strictly on merit. Other systems (Ireland, France, Switzerland, China, and so on) work this way. Admissions are completely transparent:

1. Take test.

2. If you want to study [subject] you must score above [number]. See newspaper on [date] for complete list of subjects and required scores. Letter to follow.

There is no consideration of extracurricular activities, sex, race/ethnicity, parental alumni or donations etc. Prince William had to get the same minimum score as everyone else on his A levels to study whatever it was at St. Andrews (though some UK universities seem to be moving toward interviews). A guy I knew whose daddy had a big job at my college had to get the scores, too (the faculty even checked his results to make sure no one was cheating).

I understand that people have been discriminated against in this country, and that this fact is used to justify biased admissions. But this approach just creates new ways to discriminate, which of course is being laid bare this week.

If people really, really want to fix the problem, we need to start with a living minimum wage (reduces stress at home), better social safety net programs (so people don't have to choose between rent, medicine, and food), and of course, better K-12 schools.

The idea to refuse admission to qualifying students in NYC high schools is a perfect example of destroying a completely transparent admission process in order to introduce discrimination. It's wrong.

On a rambling tangent, I'll admit that I wonder why a relatively unprepared student would even want to go to those schools. The work load is insane. Better to send them to a Middle College, which is a dual enrollment program that exposes students to college classes free of charge while at home. My eldest got a free AS through MC, followed by a nice scholarship offer that made a private college cheaper than a state U. My next son is at MC, learning the chemistry that he didn't learn at his previous high school. There, chemistry was taught by a person with a degree in early childhood development. But she was a "highly qualified and certified teacher," unlike his chem professor, who just has a silly PhD in chemistry and 2 other science degrees.
Posted by: mecreature

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/17/18 01:37 PM

I agree with Val on this.

What is the benchmark?
There can be a few considerations but that can sort out the bottom of the list.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/17/18 03:01 PM

Day 3:

Harvard Admissions Dean Largely Ignored Report on Factors Affecting Asian-American Applicants
Asian-Americans would comprise 43% of the freshman class if admission hinged solely on academics
By Melissa Korn
Wall Street Journal
Updated Oct. 17, 2018 4:18 p.m. ET

BOSTON—Were admission to Harvard based solely on academic merit, Asian-Americans would comprise 43% of the freshman class, while African-Americans would make up less than 1%, according to an internal Harvard report discussed at a trial here Wednesday.

Lawyers representing a nonprofit that has sued the school alleging intentional discrimination against Asian-American applicants dug deep into the internal 2013 study in court. In the process, they highlighted whether some criteria Harvard uses to assess candidates put Asian-American candidates at a disadvantage and how little the admissions dean did with the data when he received the report five years ago.

U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs will decide after the three-week trial whether Harvard’s admissions practices violate federal civil-rights law.

The internal study, conducted by Harvard’s Office of Institutional Research and labeled as preliminary, simulated what the admitted class would look like depending on which factors Harvard’s admissions office considered. The upshot: Asian-Americans fared best when the class was crafted based on academics alone. The share of Asian-Americans shrinks to 31.4% when recruited athletes and the children of Harvard graduates are factored in. When extracurricular and personal ratings also come into play, the share of Asian-Americans drops to 26%.

Asian-Americans were the only racial or ethnic group to see a decrease in their projected class representation with the inclusion of extra-curriculars and personal ratings.

Most elite schools consider a range of factors when determining admissions, in part because most applicants have stellar grades and test scores and are relatively indistinguishable on academics alone. The schools say they look at candidates in a holistic manner to ensure they have a good mix of students from different backgrounds, who can then learn from one another inside and outside the classroom.

The report shows that the actual admitted-student population, which also considers race, gender and other factors not in the internal simulations, was 18.7% Asian-American and 10.5% African-American combined across the decade that was reviewed.

...
Posted by: madeinuk

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/17/18 06:30 PM

I agree with Val. Admission based on merit alone ought to be a no brainer. Still cannot fully comprehend how anything but that would be the fairest policy.

People scoring on the SAT/ACT/GRE at an only a slightly above average level for the general population really should not be accepted into top flight schools period.
Posted by: stemfun

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/18/18 08:28 AM

I agree with Val, no teacher recommendations or alumni interviews should be considered (too subjective). Merit only all the way - no legacy, athlete, donations, race, sex, extracurricular activities etc should be considered. It is ridiculous to say 'no' to one subjective or unfair measure and yet accept others.

Of course all this requires a test that distinguishes among top scorers SAT/ACT does not do this effectively when there are only few spots available, so how about asking for combinations of SAT/ACT, SAT Subject Tests and AP test scores?
Posted by: stemfun

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/18/18 08:37 AM

Originally Posted By: Val
If people really, really want to fix the problem, we need to start with a living minimum wage (reduces stress at home), better social safety net programs (so people don't have to choose between rent, medicine, and food), and of course, better K-12 schools.

The idea to refuse admission to qualifying students in NYC high schools is a perfect example of destroying a completely transparent admission process in order to introduce discrimination. It's wrong.


Agreed, the real solution is to provide equal opportunity to all by providing all that Val outlined above, including affordable prep schools in all neighborhoods and better parent 'education' for all so that everyone realizes what to do outside school to give each child a fair shot.
Posted by: Val

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/18/18 10:07 AM

Added: something I find particularly objectionable about the NYC thing is that they're going to reserve the spots for students from low-income schools, as opposed to low-income students.

What does this mean?

From the NY Times:

Originally Posted By: NY Times
And who makes it into the program will also change. Students are currently eligible if they meet the city Education Department’s criteria for being disadvantaged. But under the new plan, only students who attended high-poverty middle schools will be accepted.


This means that low-income Asian students who don't go to a low-income school won't qualify. Instead, they'll qualify to be denied admission because they aren't poor in the right way. Note that a previous story in the Times said that some of these families sacrifice buying food to pay for tutoring.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/18/18 11:24 AM

As I wrote before, you are not supposed to receive anything of substantial value in return for a tax-deductible donation. Some Americans, rationally or not, value admissions for their children at some universities at more than $1 million. Non-profits must provide receipts for large donations. For Harvard and the "donor" to exchange a million dollar "donation" for an admissions spot, which can reduce Federal income taxes by about $400K (using a marginal income tax rate of 40%), is a big tax fraud. The honest thing to do would be to simply auction off a limited number of spots and do away with the pretense of charity.

Bloomberg, which sells expensive financial terminals to Wall Street, knows it audience.

Harvard's Not-So-Secret Admissions Factor: Donors Get a Boost
By Patricia Hurtado
Bloomberg
October 18, 2018, 7:00 AM EDT

A Harvard dean was thrilled. The undergraduate college had just admitted the offspring of some wealthy donors, and now the money was expected to pour into the university.

"I am simply thrilled about all the folks you were able to admit," David Ellwood, then the dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, wrote to Admissions Dean William Fitzsimmons on June 11, 2014. "All big wins. [Name redacted] has already committed to building and building. [Name redacted] and [name redacted] committed major money for fellowships -- before the decisions (from you) and are all likely to be prominent in the future. Most importantly, I think these will be superb additions to the class."

...

In a second email, in which the names of students and family are redacted, a Harvard development officer discussed with Fitzsimmons the application of another student with rich parentage.

"Going forward, I don’t see a significant opportunity for further major gifts," the officer wrote. "[Name redacted] had an art collection which conceivably could come our way. More probably it will go to the [name redacted] museum.”

Athletes, especially those from wealthy families, are particularly coveted at a school with a $39.2 billion endowment, or so it seems.

In an October 2014 email, the school’s former tennis coach thanked a dean for meeting a visiting applicant. "He was unsurprisingly thrilled to meet you," the coach wrote. “[Name redacted’s] family for some time donated [name redacted] to Harvard and two full professorships over the last few years."
Posted by: stemfun

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/18/18 11:32 AM

Originally Posted By: Val
Added: something I find particularly objectionable about the NYC thing is that they're going to reserve the spots for students from low-income schools, as opposed to low-income students.

What does this mean?

From the NY Times:

Originally Posted By: NY Times
And who makes it into the program will also change. Students are currently eligible if they meet the city Education Department’s criteria for being disadvantaged. But under the new plan, only students who attended high-poverty middle schools will be accepted.


This means that low-income Asian students who don't go to a low-income school won't qualify. Instead, they'll qualify to be denied admission because they aren't poor in the right way. Note that a previous story in the Times said that some of these families sacrifice buying food to pay for tutoring.


I do wonder why they are reserving slots for 'low income schools' instead of 'low income students' in low income schools. Low income students (of all races) in low income schools are more disadvantaged than low income students in higher income schools because the education received in low income schools is simply not on par with that from higher income schools which tend to have better teachers and resources (including after school support). Low income students in higher income schools could also be said to be more disadvantaged than their higher income counterparts in the same school.

However, if the education received and resources available in all K-12 schools were the same, affordable after school prep for all were available and all parents were aware of what is needed to give each child a fair shot then no slots will be needed for low income students.

Posted by: mckinley

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/18/18 12:47 PM

Originally Posted By: Bostonian
For Harvard and the "donor" to exchange a million dollar "donation" for an admissions spot, which can reduce Federal income taxes by about $400K (using a marginal income tax rate of 40%), is a big tax fraud. The honest thing to do would be ...


... just receipt the donation as not tax deductible. But that assumes that a fair market value has been determined for admission to Harvard.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking discusses the idea that Harvard (and Yale) looking for extroverted applicants goes back to the late 1940s.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/20/18 05:34 AM

Harvard’s Admissions Process, Once Secret, Is Unveiled in Affirmative Action Trial
By Anemona Hartocollis
New York Times
October 19, 2018

...

Harvard also looks at factors like parental occupation, which Mr. Fitzsimmons said offer clues about financial hardship, and intended major, to avoid having too many students with the same educational interests.

For instance, he said this week, there had been huge increases in would-be engineers and computer scientists, but Harvard had to be wary of admitting too many, because “a whole bunch” of them “will end up happily ever after at M.I.T. or Caltech.”

“One thing we always want is humanists,” Mr. Fitzsimmons said, adding that there were “fewer and fewer” of them.

*********************************************

The above is what I noticed that I had not seen in other articles about the trial.
Posted by: Wren

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/23/18 02:29 PM

What about athletes that barely make the scores but get big scholarships and take up spots? If it is all score based, then you may completely change college sports. That aint going to happen in America.
Posted by: NotSoGifted

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/23/18 03:24 PM

Ivies don't give athletic scholarships (or any scholarships). They have an Academic Index, and athletes must meet a minimum number. The team average A.I. has to be not too different than the overall student body average A.I. (maybe within a standard deviation - I don't remember).

That being said, if you are a big impact player for a certain sport, you can get away with the minimum A.I. Ivies sometimes then "recruit" athletes that are good players, not great, but have a high A.I. to boost the team average.

There was a classmate of one of my kids who was a big impact player in her sport, and she was probably on the low end of A.I. Kid had a 1200 SAT, and managed the academics (in a not too demanding major).

However, that is about as low as they will go. Said kid had a sibling who played the same sport at a public Ivy, and had lower scores - that kid struggled with the academics.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/26/18 07:37 AM

Originally Posted By: Thomas Percy
Yep, one type of applicants were discriminated against for sure, the introverts.

Is an Extroverted Applicant Better Suited for Harvard Than an Introvert?
New York Times
By Anemona Hartocollis
October 25, 2018

BOSTON — Days before the opening of a trial accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian-American applicants, the college issued new guidance to its admissions officers earlier this month on what personalities it is seeking in its incoming freshmen, a question at the heart of the case.

The new guidelines for the Class of 2023 caution officers that character traits “not always synonymous with extroversion” should be valued, and that applicants who seem to be “particularly reflective, insightful and/or dedicated” should receive high personal ratings as well.

The disclosure of the new guidelines on Thursday, the ninth day of the trial in Federal District Court here, address central concerns in the case. The group challenging Harvard’s affirmative action efforts, Students for Fair Admissions, says that the university limits the admission of Asian-American students by giving them lower personal ratings and stereotyping them as quiet and studious. Harvard has denied stereotyping or discriminating against any racial or ethnic group.

The advice on personal ratings does not mention Asian-American bias. But the case has raised the question of whether elite colleges’ preference for certain character traits in applicants — such as extroversion — is culturally biased.

One of the odder quirks of the trial testimony has been how often the word “effervescence” has come up. It has been hammered home that Harvard values applicants who are bubbly, not “flat,” to use another word in the Harvard admissions lexicon.

Admissions documents filed in court awarded advantages to applicants for “unusually appealing personal qualities,” which could include “effervescence, charity, maturity and strength of character.”

Now “reflective” could be a plus as well.

...
Posted by: philly103

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/27/18 07:12 AM

THe introvert vs. extrovert thing is interesting because there is some research out there that extroverts make for better leaders and are better at climbing to the top of organizations because of a social bias towards them. For a school that values the prestige of its graduates, one can see the value in pursuing extroverts.

As an introvert, it kind of sucks to know.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/27/18 08:07 AM

More accurately, the research indicates that extroverts are perceived to be better leaders, and thus more likely to be hired and to be paid more. In actual objective measures of performance, they are no more likely to be effective than introverts are, and in some cases are markedly less effective. It is true that the same research pool has found that HBS in particular values extroversion. In the sense that they are attempting to generate a consistent product, it is understandable that HBS would select for certain personalities. For the rest of the university, however, that decision is less easily supported.

The background section of this paper reviews much of the recent research:

https://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=lead_research
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 11/05/18 06:58 AM

I hope the judge orders that any use of "racial boxes" be ended.

Arguments Over How to Prove Racial Bias Drive Final Day at Harvard Trial
By Nicole Hong
Wall Street Journal
November 2, 2018

...

Friday’s closing arguments focused on a central question: Does Harvard’s admissions process impose an illegal penalty on Asian-American applicants because of their race?

Harvard’s lawyers said no, arguing the institution’s data showed there was a slight, positive effect on the likelihood of admission for Asian Americans who were women or from California. Both sides also agreed Harvard didn’t racially discriminate against Asian American legacies. And Harvard says it gives preference to low-income applicants of all races, including Asian Americans.

“If there was discriminatory animus,” said William Lee, a lawyer for Harvard, “why would it be directed only to certain categories of Asian-American applicants?”

The plaintiffs’ lawyers said it was possible to discriminate against a group’s subset, such as against pregnant women on the basis of their sex.

Harvard’s own internal reports from 2013 concluded being Asian American hurt an applicant’s likelihood of admission, the plaintiffs said. They said Harvard’s admissions dean ignored those conclusions and failed to investigate further, which they called evidence of intentional discrimination. Harvard said those reports were preliminary and incomplete.

...

Harvard’s lawyers said race is only used as a preference among the most competitive applicants, in the same way exceptional musical talent can make a difference in admissions.

If the judge finds Harvard liable on any counts, she then would determine a remedy. The plaintiffs originally sought to prohibit Harvard from considering race in future admissions decisions.

In his opening statement, an attorney for the plaintiffs suggested the judge could remedy any disparate treatment of white and Asian-American applicants by ordering Harvard to group them into the same racial box during admissions.
Posted by: Val

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 11/05/18 10:18 PM

If the use of racial boxes has to go, then legacy, donor, celebrity, and other discriminatory preferences also need to go. IMO, they’re worse than racial preferences in that they enforce and perpetuate privilege.

If you advocate for discrimination in favor of any group, you advocate for blanket discrimination, whether you want to admit so or not. If you want to end discrimination favoring one group, you need to end it for all of them.

Admissions need to be merit based, and nothing but. And of course, we as a society need to fix the problems and gross inequalities that create the admissions gaps.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 11/06/18 06:31 AM

Originally Posted By: Val
If the use of racial boxes has to go, then legacy, donor, celebrity, and other discriminatory preferences also need to go. IMO, they’re worse than racial preferences in that they enforce and perpetuate privilege.

The judge does not have jurisdiction to ban those preferences. One may think it is unseemly for Harvard to prefer the children of celebrities, but what law is it violating by doing so? Congress could decide that elite schools have become so corrupt that their tax benefits should be withdrawn. I have written repeatedly that purchases of seats should not be deductible as as charity.
Posted by: Val

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 11/06/18 07:17 AM

Discrimination is discrimination, regardless of which group is being favored.

I didn’t say anything about the judge’s jurisdiction. I simply said that if Harvard is forced to end one discriminatory admissions practice, it should end them all.

A student whose mommy or daddy went to Harvard may be more likely than a random person to be qualified for admission there. But this possibility should be irrelevant to the actual admissions decision. All that should matter is the student’s qualifications.

And the tax deduction thing is just a distraction. The practice of buying a seat for an unqualified student is wrong and shouldn’t happen.

If Harvard can prefer the children of celebrities, why can’t it prefer the children of members of a given ethnic or racial group?
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 11/06/18 08:22 AM

Originally Posted By: Val
Discrimination is discrimination, regardless of which group is being favored.

Not all discrimination is equally problematic. I don't know many people who think women's colleges such as Wellesley should be forced to admit men. I've read that many private liberal arts colleges favor male applicants, because if the sex ratio gets too skewed, the schools will become unattractive to both sexes. I think MIT has some preference for females. Many colleges are residential communities as well as educational institutions, and they admit students accordingly.
Posted by: Val

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 11/06/18 08:32 AM

You’re trying to avoid the point.

Say a college decides to admit a less qualified candidate because mommy or daddy is a graduate/famous/a donor. The college does this because it sees the admission as benefiting the college in some way.

The college has the same opinion about admitting a less qualified student from North Dakota or from a given racial/ethnic group. There is no difference.

If one discriminatory practice (“racial boxes”) is unfair and must be ended, then they all are (alumni boxes, donor boxes, fame boxes), and they must all be ended. Admissions have to be fair, for everyone.

Discrimination in all its forms undermines society as a whole. Discrimination in favor of the wealthy is simply another form of discrimination, albeit with more serious consequences than discrimination in favor of the underprivileged.
Posted by: atticcat

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 11/06/18 08:34 AM

What if anything did it have to do with with intellectual property rights?
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 11/06/18 09:18 AM

Harvard charges $70K a year and has a $37 billion endowment. I favor treating it like other businesses. Businesses are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of race, but they do discriminate on the basis of willingness and ability to pay. That's how a market economy works.
Posted by: mckinley

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 11/06/18 09:22 AM

Don't forget merit boxes. Seems fair.
Posted by: Val

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 11/06/18 09:36 AM

Harvard is not a business. It’s a non-profit. If it wants to go the for-profit college route and start paying all sorts of taxes, it can give what it likes to its biggest customers.

Until then, the argument that it’s okay to discriminate in admissions in favor of wealthy people but not poor people is intellectually dishonest in its face. This type of discrimination has led this nation into a hot mess, and it’s time that overprivileged Americans grow up and share their cake.

Prince William had to get the minimum A-level scores to get into St. Andrews, the same as everyone else. My friend, who was the provost’s kid, did too. No one is suffering unduly because of transparent admissions, but many people do suffer when the deck is stacked in favor of small groups. A perfect example of that is the admissions arms race that’s been damaging the mental health of school kids for over 20 years now.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/01/19 03:12 PM

Harvard Admissions Process Does Not Discriminate Against Asian-Americans, Judge Rules
By Anemona Hartocollis
New York Times
Oct. 1, 2019

A federal judge on Tuesday rejected claims that Harvard had intentionally discriminated against Asian-Americans applicants, in a closely watched case that had presented one of the biggest legal challenges to affirmative action in years.

The challenge came from a group hoping to overturn a longstanding Supreme Court precedent that allows race to be considered as one factor among many in the admissions process, but prohibits universities from using racial quotas. The group argued that Harvard’s practices had benefited black and Hispanic students at the expense of another minority group, in a strategic reversal of past affirmative action lawsuits in which the plaintiffs denounced a perceived unfairness to white students.

The judge, Allison Burroughs of Federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts, rejected the argument that Harvard was using affirmative action as a weapon against some races and a boon to others, and said that the university met the strict constitutional standard for considering race in its admissions process.

In her decision, Judge Burroughs defended the benefits of diversity, and said that while the time might come when it would be possible to look beyond race in college admissions, that time was not yet here.

“The rich diversity at Harvard and other colleges and universities and the benefits that flow from that diversity,” she added, “will foster the tolerance, acceptance and understanding that will ultimately make race conscious admissions obsolete.”

...
Posted by: philly103

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/01/19 05:25 PM

The ruling was legally inevitable, I didn't think there was anything in the facts presented that would have justified ruling against Harvard at this level.

Additionally, those additional papers posted here after the fact make abundantly clear that the real issue is the Legacy, Athlete, Dean's List, Children of Faculty admits who skew the admissions criteria more significantly than the lower scored under-represented minorities (URMs).

But everyone knows the endgame is SCOTUS so this isn't supremely important (pun intended).
Posted by: puffin

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/02/19 02:44 AM

Originally Posted By: spaghetti
If you are in a horribly underfunded school district with very poor education and the local parochial school offers a stellar education, is that unfair? Should they be required to admit based on academic merit vs membership in the population that founded the school?

If a bunch of wealthy people get together and develop a school for their gifted kids--- which actually happened locally, do they have to as a private school, offer equal access to admissions?

And if those schools are colleges. If an Ivy is a bunch of rich people who are working together to pay for their kids to get a certain education, do they have to use certain criteria?

Or in all three cases, are they prohibited from discrimination based on a protected class?

Just wondering where the lines and the laws fall.


If they are operating as a non profit with associated tax breaks things are a bit different than if they are a private company paying taxes. It is tricky and I don't know the solution. I do live in a country with no private universities and not many private schools which may be one solution. Many of our universities also have endowments or own properties but they are state run and pretty much accept anyone for the first year after which you have to pass at varying levels depending on degree. A C will get you into second year science or arts but selective courses such and medicine and vet will require an A grade for example.
Posted by: Wren

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/02/19 03:27 AM

Legacy helps build the endowment. Historical experience supports that. Deans list includes staff children and people like YoYoMa, who went to Harvard. How many schools don't help staff kids? I know the guy who heads up lung transplant at Columbia Pres and, despite being a wealthy surgeon, his kid got 50% off tuition at Columbia. And athletics are part of campus life. Harvard football is a big thing. The GAME is as big for many alumni as thanksgiving. But these are all less than 20% of admits. So the issue is that if you are scrambling for the remaining 80% is how do you stand out if you just have great scores? I think that is the whole point. How do you stand out?
Posted by: philly103

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/02/19 04:14 AM

Originally Posted By: Wren
Legacy helps build the endowment. Historical experience supports that. Deans list includes staff children and people like YoYoMa, who went to Harvard. How many schools don't help staff kids? I know the guy who heads up lung transplant at Columbia Pres and, despite being a wealthy surgeon, his kid got 50% off tuition at Columbia. And athletics are part of campus life. Harvard football is a big thing. The GAME is as big for many alumni as thanksgiving. But these are all less than 20% of admits. So the issue is that if you are scrambling for the remaining 80% is how do you stand out if you just have great scores? I think that is the whole point. How do you stand out?

My read of the judicial opinion says that getting a 1 or 2 in 3 of Harvard's 4 ratings categories results in something like a 70% admissions rate. While getting a 1 in a single criteria is less than a 10% chance.

Also, just for the data side of things - athletes, legacies, donors kids, faculty kids account for 30% of the admittees (and have a 40+% admissions rate). In addition, Harvard sets aside ~10% of the seats for kids from 19 specific schools (3% come from 2 private schools). Kids from those schools aren't really competing against the general pool either, they're really competing against each other for their schools specific Harvard allocation. Of course, I'm sure there's significant overlap between the ALDC group and the attendees of these private schools.

So, the answer to how one stands out appears to be exceptionalism in multiple areas, as opposed to exceptionalism is in just one. The exception being athletics where north of 85% of recruited athletes are admitted.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/02/19 05:45 AM

Originally Posted By: philly103
... the endgame is SCOTUS ...
For everyone who values SCOTUS, and its rulings on this case and others, according to the US Constitution and Bill of Rights... cases which have the ability to impact opportunities available to our gifted kids and all kids... please pay careful attention to UN 2030 Agenda and steps being taken toward globalization, with collateral damage of dissolving the sovereignty of the US as a nation, along with its Constitution and Bill of Rights. (The US Constitution is considered to be the oldest Constitution still being used today.)
Posted by: Alannc44

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/02/19 06:15 AM

Originally Posted By: indigo
[quote=philly103]... please pay careful attention to UN 2030 Agenda and steps being taken toward globalization, with collateral damage of dissolving the sovereignty of the US as a nation, along with its Constitution and Bill of Rights. (The US Constitution is considered to be the oldest Constitution still being used today.)


I'll never understand this irrational fear of The UN. Politics. Ugh. If anything, The US drives the desire for equality for all and probably influences The UN more than it us. Yes, we over compensate sometimes.
Posted by: JudAU

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/02/19 08:29 AM

I don’t know if I mentioned this upthread but DH went to Harvard and has many close friends who have children applying. He also participates in multiple online groups. It has been interesting. The legacy boost is hilariously overblown unless you are also donating, conservatively a few million dollars and have done so multiple times previously, and has a kid who could get in independently. Harvard does not need small donors, or to please alumni, or unqualified candidates at any donation level. Most people think that it is actually disadvantage.

We known many supremely qualified kids who haven’t gotten in and one who did. He is a pretty typical Harvard admit, double legacy from both parents, and a grandparent, genius IQ, perfect ACT, perfect SAT, excellent math count scores, and has two patents already. His parents gave consistent $1,000 every year since graduation and nothing else. He was wait listed and eventually got in. But no one else we know.
Posted by: Val

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/02/19 09:59 AM

Originally Posted By: JudAU
I don’t know if I mentioned this upthread but DH went to Harvard and has many close friends who have children applying. He also participates in multiple online groups. It has been interesting. The legacy boost is hilariously overblown ...


An article from the Harvard Crimson says that legacy admissions are five times as high as non-legacy admits: Harvard Crimson
Posted by: philly103

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/02/19 11:27 AM

Originally Posted By: Val

An article from the Harvard Crimson says that legacy admissions are five times as high as non-legacy admits: Harvard Crimson


That's probably the best thing to come out of this lawsuit. The amount of raw data that supports some old assumptions and discredits others. We should all have a better grasp of what it takes for our kids to gain admission. Where to devote our efforts, at what point do those efforts cross into "desired" status and where to stop spending unnecessary effort.

Speaking just for myself and my child - playing a musical instrument has moved down the list, playing the right sports has moved up - squash, lacrosse, water polo, crew, etc.
Posted by: Val

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/02/19 12:55 PM

Originally Posted By: philly103
Speaking just for myself and my child - playing a musical instrument has moved down the list, playing the right sports has moved up - squash, lacrosse, water polo, crew, etc.


You may wish to focus on increasing your income instead, unless you're already able to afford $75,000 annually (I'm not asking --- I'm just reporting facts about preferences). The evidence shows that admissions are very heavily biased toward applicants from wealthy families.

See this excellent article in the NY Times. Quotes:

Quote:
The most selective colleges in America were the least socioeconomically diverse. ... At “Ivy plus” colleges ,... more than two-thirds of undergraduates, on average, came from families in the top income quintile, and fewer than 4 percent of students grew up in the bottom income quintile. At the very most selective colleges, low-income students were even more of an endangered species; at Yale, for example, Chetty found that just 2.1 percent of the student body came from the bottom fifth of the income distribution.


Quote:
If you work in admissions at a place like Trinity was before Pérez arrived, SAT scores can provide a convenient justification for admitting the kind of students you might feel compelled to accept because they can pay full tuition. It’s hard to feel good about choosing an academically undeserving rich kid over a striving and ambitious poor kid with better high school grades.



Quote:
“Few enrollment-management people will admit this publicly, but we’re all sort of in the same boat,” Boeckenstedt told me when I visited him in his office at DePaul in 2017. “Admissions for us is not a matter of turning down students we’d like to admit. It’s a matter of admitting students we’d like to turn down.”



AND

Quote:
In fact, Boeckenstedt’s chart shows an almost perfect correlation between institutional selectivity and students’ average family income, a steady, unwavering diagonal line slicing through the graph. With only a few exceptions, every American college follows the same pattern.

There is a popular and persistent image of college admissions in which diversity-obsessed universities are using affirmative action to deny spaces to academically talented affluent students while admitting low-income students with lower ability in their place. Boeckenstedt says the opposite is closer to the truth.


Posted by: philly103

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/02/19 01:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Val
You may wish to focus on increasing your income instead, unless you're already able to afford $75,000 annually (I'm not asking --- I'm just reporting facts about preferences). The evidence shows that admissions are very heavily biased toward applicants from wealthy families.

See this excellent article in the NY Times. Quotes:

Quote:
The most selective colleges in America were the least socioeconomically diverse. ... At “Ivy plus” colleges ,... more than two-thirds of undergraduates, on average, came from families in the top income quintile, and fewer than 4 percent of students grew up in the bottom income quintile. At the very most selective colleges, low-income students were even more of an endangered species; at Yale, for example, Chetty found that just 2.1 percent of the student body came from the bottom fifth of the income distribution.


Quote:
If you work in admissions at a place like Trinity was before Pérez arrived, SAT scores can provide a convenient justification for admitting the kind of students you might feel compelled to accept because they can pay full tuition. It’s hard to feel good about choosing an academically undeserving rich kid over a striving and ambitious poor kid with better high school grades.



Quote:
“Few enrollment-management people will admit this publicly, but we’re all sort of in the same boat,” Boeckenstedt told me when I visited him in his office at DePaul in 2017. “Admissions for us is not a matter of turning down students we’d like to admit. It’s a matter of admitting students we’d like to turn down.”



AND

Quote:
In fact, Boeckenstedt’s chart shows an almost perfect correlation between institutional selectivity and students’ average family income, a steady, unwavering diagonal line slicing through the graph. With only a few exceptions, every American college follows the same pattern.

There is a popular and persistent image of college admissions in which diversity-obsessed universities are using affirmative action to deny spaces to academically talented affluent students while admitting low-income students with lower ability in their place. Boeckenstedt says the opposite is closer to the truth.




Yeah, I know. The data out there should be pretty disheartening to any family with a middle class income.

It's interesting that the things like legacies, sports, donors and children of faculty are all also heavily correlated with higher incomes as well.

I think that many of the Ivies have moved to free tuition for families at $65k. And some variant of 10% of their income for families making more than that but less than $100k, $150k, $200k depending on the school.

But, in line with what you said, it's unlikely that a kid is going to be able to rise to the highest level of achievement in any of Harvard's ratings criteria without significant parental investment along the way.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/02/19 03:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Val
Quote:
In fact, Boeckenstedt’s chart shows an almost perfect correlation between institutional selectivity and students’ average family income, a steady, unwavering diagonal line slicing through the graph. With only a few exceptions, every American college follows the same pattern.

SAT scores of children, like IQ, are positively correlated to parental income. If you take two children, one from a family with income of $50K and another from a family with income of $200K, maybe there is only a 55-60% chance that the child from the richer family has a higher SAT score. But if you randomly select 1000 children each from families across the country with incomes of $45K-$55K and $180K-$220K, the average SAT score and IQ of the children from the richer families will almost always be higher. Since colleges enroll thousands of students, one should expect that higher-SAT schools have students from richer families.
Posted by: Val

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/03/19 09:33 AM

Originally Posted By: Bostonian
SAT scores of children, like IQ, are positively correlated to parental income. If you take two children, one from a family with income of $50K and another from a family with income of $200K, maybe there is only a 55-60% chance that the child from the richer family has a higher SAT score. But if you randomly select 1000 children each from families across the country with incomes of $45K-$55K and $180K-$220K, the average SAT score and IQ of the children from the richer families will almost always be higher. Since colleges enroll thousands of students, one should expect that higher-SAT schools have students from richer families.


The story debunks the myth that wealthy people are brighter as an effect of wealth and test prep (as if the college admission scandal wasn't enough):

Quote:
At Trinity, Pérez’s predecessors had been able to capitalize on a pattern that admissions officers say they often see: At expensive prep schools, even students close to the bottom of the class usually have above-average SAT scores, mostly because they have access to high-octane test-prep classes and tutors.

“O.K., you’re not motivated, you’re doing the minimum at your high school,” Pérez explained, describing the students Trinity used to admit in droves. “You have not worked as hard as your peers. But you did the test prep, and you learned how to play the SAT game.”


Quote:
But if the rich student you’re admitting has a higher SAT score than the poor student you’re rejecting, you can tell yourself that your decision was based on “college readiness” rather than ability to pay.

The problem is, rich kids who aren’t motivated to work hard and get good grades in high school often aren’t college-ready, however inflated their SAT scores may be.




Posted by: Wren

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/03/19 04:44 PM

Originally Posted By: Val

An article from the Harvard Crimson says that legacy admissions are five times as high as non-legacy admits: Harvard Crimson


This is bizarre. What does this even mean? That the percentage of legacies getting in from the pool of legacies applying is 5 times the amount of non legacies getting in from the pool applying? So there is a good chance that out of the 50000 applying many are not so great candidates. Not all of those 50K applying have great SAT scores or great anything. They just apply. Also, the rate of athletes applying and getting in is approx 70%, I heard. Don't quote me. And JudAU's heresay is similar to what my DH experienced when he was fundraising from his class. Who applied, who got in. How much some people paid -- millions and their kid did not get in. Even reading college confidential. There were legacies that did not get in and were surprised. They thought their scores and grades were good. I also think that when and who is reading your app makes a difference. Are you on the bottom of a pile, nearing the end of an evening? Why the essay seems to make such a difference. You wake the person up.
Posted by: Val

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/03/19 06:03 PM

Originally Posted By: Wren
This is bizarre. What does this even mean?


It’s pretty basic arithmetic, actually:

Quote:
Over 33 percent of legacy applicants—Harvard hopefuls with at least one parent who graduated from the College or Radcliffe—gained admission to the Classes of 2014 through 2019...

the preference given to legacy students disproportionately favors white students.

In his filings, he claimed more than 21.5 percent of white admitted students are also legacy admits. Around 6.96 percent of Hispanic admits, 6.63 percent of Asian-American admits, and 4.79 percent of African-American admits were students with legacy status...


Quote:
But Harvard has not disputed the preference given to legacy students.


You guys are trying to argue against a point that Harvard concedes openly. Plus, Harvard’s overall acceptance rate in 2016 was 6%, meaning essentially no one but white students were given a preference (and African-Americans were given an anti-preference).

If you want to explore why legacy students among your acquaintances with good scores and grades were rejected, you could always take a poll comparing legacy acceptance and rejection according to race, request for financial aid, and how much their parents had donated.
Posted by: madeinuk

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/03/19 06:18 PM

Originally Posted By: Val
Originally Posted By: Bostonian
SAT scores of children, like IQ, are positively correlated to parental income. If you take two children, one from a family with income of $50K and another from a family with income of $200K, maybe there is only a 55-60% chance that the child from the richer family has a higher SAT score. But if you randomly select 1000 children each from families across the country with incomes of $45K-$55K and $180K-$220K, the average SAT score and IQ of the children from the richer families will almost always be higher. Since colleges enroll thousands of students, one should expect that higher-SAT schools have students from richer families.


The story debunks the myth that wealthy people are brighter as an effect of wealth and test prep (as if the college admission scandal wasn't enough):

Quote:
At Trinity, Pérez’s predecessors had been able to capitalize on a pattern that admissions officers say they often see: At expensive prep schools, even students close to the bottom of the class usually have above-average SAT scores, mostly because they have access to high-octane test-prep classes and tutors.

“O.K., you’re not motivated, you’re doing the minimum at your high school,” Pérez explained, describing the students Trinity used to admit in droves. “You have not worked as hard as your peers. But you did the test prep, and you learned how to play the SAT game.”


Quote:
But if the rich student you’re admitting has a higher SAT score than the poor student you’re rejecting, you can tell yourself that your decision was based on “college readiness” rather than ability to pay.

The problem is, rich kids who aren’t motivated to work hard and get good grades in high school often aren’t college-ready, however inflated their SAT scores may be.






This and too many similar articles conflate wealth with earned income.

Actual multi-generational wealth confers genuine advantages and privileges that folks who only have a high earned income can only dream of.

Personally, I have had it up to my back teeth with hearing the income==wealth fallacy.

Plus college costs and taxes ensure that the 'only high income' people (the middle class) stay in their place.

The gullibility of most, even on this board itself, not to see through this shell game actually astounds me.
Posted by: philly103

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/03/19 07:50 PM

Originally Posted By: madeinuk
This and too many similar articles conflate wealth with earned income.

Actual multi-generational wealth confers genuine advantages and privileges that folks who only have a high earned income can only dream of.

Personally, I have had it up to my back teeth with hearing the income==wealth fallacy.

Plus college costs and taxes ensure that the 'only high income' people (the middle class) stay in their place.

The gullibility of most, even on this board itself, not to see through this shell game actually astounds me.


Even if you're not conflating wealth with income, high income confers genuine advantages and privileges that people who only have a median income can only dream of.

If one can see the advantages presented by multi-generational wealth, one can equally see the advantages presented by high income.

Quality of education either in terms of private schools or in terms of more expensive homes in better school districts being a noted example that doesn't require generational wealth for advantage.

Scope and scale of extracurricular activities is another.

The advantages of income are just as prevalent and impactful as the advantages of generational wealth.
Posted by: Thomas Percy

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/04/19 08:45 AM

It is not just income and wealth. It is also class. That is why wealth needs to be multi-generational.

http://bostonreview.net/class-inequality-law-justice/richard-ford-harvard-ruling-misses-point
Posted by: Wren

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/04/19 02:09 PM

I have known white students with double legacy, where the parents donated millions and the kid got rejected. I have known parents, double legacy, got the first 2 in and the 3rd got rejected, though she had comparable scores with the first, but the environment got more competitive. These were big, steady donors. If the scores don't line up, it doesn't matter if you donate -- probably a half billion will get you admission, or if you are double legacy. They told the Kennedys not to let John John apply because they didn't want to reject him, hence he went to Brown. I do not know why the people on this board think it is so easy for legacy? I saw first admit AA students get into Harvard with 1420 SAT scores. You read through and you can see a bunch. First time college. They are shocked they got in. So if the word is out that first time AA applicants can get in with lower scores, how many apply? They will get a full ride since they probably come from lower income. I would apply. Out of about 900 EA, about 350 are legacy, 250 athletes. And then you have some Dean's list of faculty etc. And it makes sense that a larger portion of legacy admits are going to be white. Historically Harvard has been a white male school. Then they were letting in some others. But historically it was not diverse. So why is it a surprise that 21 % of white admits were legacy? I know of one AA girl, with perfect SAT math scores, double legacy Harvard. Got in. But also got in everywhere else. Because she was an AA girl with perfect SAT math scores. She opted for MIT. Is a white girl with perfect SAT math scores going to get in everywhere she applies? And a good chance an asian girl with perfect math scores has even a harder time getting into her choice.
Posted by: Wren

Re: Harvard admissions lawsuit - 10/09/19 01:13 PM

article in NYT mag

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/10/magazine/college-admissions-paul-tough.html

There is a tiny minority of American colleges where tuition revenue doesn’t matter much to the institution’s financial health. Harvard and Princeton and Stanford have such enormous endowments and such dependable alumni donors that they are able to spend lavishly to spend lavishly to educate their students, with only a small percentage of those funds coming from the students themselves. But most private colleges, including Trinity, operate on a model that depends heavily on tuition for their financial survival. And for many colleges, that survival no longer seems at all certain: According to Moody’s Investors Service, about a quarter of private American colleges are now operating at a deficit, spending more than they are taking in.

Hence, the top schools are easy to get in with scores. After the top tier, money counts more.