Everyone knows that the college admissions game is rigged. No one believes that it is based solely, or even primarily on merit.
If a certain number of places are reserved for minority group members whose test scores and academic achievements are consistently lower than their non-minority cohorts, then clearly the system suffers from some corruption.
On a 1600 point SAT scale African-American student scores at top universities were around 300 points lower than white student scores and 400 points lower than Asian student scores.
As Ron Unz documents extensively in his article “The Myth of American Meritocracy” college admissions officers, especially those in the best schools have instituted a quota of Asian students.
Yet, that is not the surprising statistic in his article.
There’s nothing new about quotas. In the past a quota system was used to reduce the number of overachieving Jewish students on Ivy League campuses.
Today, however, Unz points out that the era of Jewish overachievement has passed and Jewish college applicants have been consistently underperforming.
At the same time, surprisingly, their numbers have been increasing at the top Ivy League schools.
The two groups that have suffered in the rigged college admissions game are Asians and white Christians.
The percentage of White Christians has been declining while the number of less qualified Jewish students has been increasing.
Unz points out:
But the objective evidence indicates that in present day America, only about 6 percent of our top students are Jewish, which now renders such very high Jewish enrollments at elite universities totally absurd and ridiculous. I strongly suspect that a similar time lag effect is responsible for the apparent confusion in many others who have considered the topic.
Most of my preceding analysis has focused on the comparison of Asians with Jews, and I have pointed out that based on factors of objective academic performance and population size, we would expect Asians to outnumber Jews by perhaps five to one at our top national universities; instead, the total Jewish numbers across the Ivy League are actually 40 percent higher. This implies that Jewish enrollment is roughly 600 percent greater relative to Asians than should be expected under a strictly meritocratic admissions system.
Indeed, the official statistics indicate that non-Jewish whites at Harvard are America’s most under-represented population group, enrolled at a much lower fraction of their national population than blacks or Hispanics, despite having far higher academic test scores. …
This period certainly saw a very rapid rise in the number of Asian, Hispanic, and foreign students, as well as some increase in blacks. But it seems rather odd that all of these other gains would have come at the expense of whites of Christian background, and none at the expense of Jews.
Unz has been criticized for is methodology. How does he know who is and who is not Jewish? His answer: he considers that some family names are far more likely to be Jewish than others. A Rosenberg is far more likely to be Jewish than an O’Malley or a Jones.
Evidently, this is imprecise and subject to question. Yet, when college admissions officers were setting up quotas for Jewish students in prior years, how did they know who was and who was not Jewish?
When Unz asks why the admissions process employs a preference system that favors Jewish students, he arrives at some surprising conclusions.
In some cases legacy counts. Wealthy donors, Jewish or not, will more likely be able to buy their children a place at Harvard.
But then, Jewish applicants are also receiving a preference because they are more likely to be liberal and progressive. Everyone knows that universities only hire professors who are on the political left. It should not be surprising that the admissions committee skews its decisions in favor of students who are more likely to hold the same political persuasion.
It’s about cultural markers. Unz writes:
One of [Princeton Professor Thomas] Ephanshade’s most striking findings was that excelling in certain types of completely mainstream high school activities actually reduced a student’s admission chances by 60–65 percent, apparently because teenagers with such interests were regarded with considerable disfavor by the sort of people employed in admissions; these were ROTC, 4-H Clubs, Future Farmers of America, and various similar organizations.87 Consider that these reported activities were totally mainstream, innocuous, and non-ideological, yet might easily get an applicant rejected, presumably for being cultural markers. When we recognize the overwhelmingly liberal orientation of nearly all our elite universities and the large communities of academics and administrators they employ, we can easily imagine what might become of any applicants who proudly proclaimed their successful leadership roles in an activity associated with conservative Christianity or rightwing politics as their extracurricular claim to fame.
The overwhelmingly liberal orientation of the elite university community, the apparent willingness of many liberals to actively discriminate against non-liberals, and the fact that American Jews remain perhaps the most liberal ethnic community may together help explain a significant portion of our skewed enrollment statistics.93
The least surprising observation is that liberals discriminate on ideological grounds.