The Ivy Coach Daily

August 28, 2020

The White Male in Admissions

The argument that white males face discrimination in the highly selective college admissions process counters the facts.

Are white male students discriminated against in the highly selective college admissions process? Don’t be ridiculous! Just about every day, we receive an email from a parent — who is not our client — in which he or she writes how they’re seeking help for their “white male” child. And since the parent typically shares very few details about their child other than his race and gender, yes, we can read between the lines: the parent believes the child will face discrimination in an admissions process on account of their gender and race. But is that so?

Many White Applicants Have a Leg Up in Elite College Admissions

Let’s first address the race component of the argument. As Katherine Hu writes in an editorial in today’s The Los Angeles Times entitled “The real affirmative action dominating admission to elite colleges benefits privileged white kids,” “An analysis of the Harvard data from that lawsuit, published last year by the National Bureau of Economic Research, showed that 43% of white students admitted to Harvard between 2009 to 2014 were either recruited athletes, legacies, applicants on the ’dean’s interest list’ (those connected to donors), and children of faculty and staff, categories that are considered favorably in admissions. Among Black, Latinx and Asian students admitted, less than 16% of each group benefited from those preferences. The study also revealed, more shockingly, that 75% of the white students who were admitted under one of these privileged categories would have been rejected had they not been given those bonus points.”

Elite Colleges Covet Gender Parity at Expense of Many Female Applicants

And how about the gender component of the argument? As Jeffrey Selingo writes in a Wall Street Journal piece published this week entitled “The Secrets of Elite College Admissions,” “The shaping process, like competitive admissions overall, is particularly tough on qualified women. Men represent less than 45% of students at American colleges, and schools pay attention to gender balance. Among the tentative admits changed by the committee for the Northeast region was a girl with an A average and 1500 on the SAT who wanted to major in prelaw. She ran track in middle school and made the varsity soccer team as a sophomore. One admissions officer found the recommendations lacking because they focused on her personal qualities instead of what happened in the classroom. ’I like her, if we have room,’ someone said. ’Well, we don’t,’ said another.”

Poking Holes in the White Male Disadvantage in Elite College Admissions

So how exactly are white male applicants discriminated against in highly selective college admissions? Are we supposed to not acknowledge all of the white applicants who receive preferential treatment in admissions because of their legacy status or because they’re recruited athletes or the children of major donors? Are we supposed to not acknowledge that universities have to admit males — at the expense of more deserving females — to create gender parity? No issue on our college admissions blog inspires more heated conversation. Post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to jump in on the attacks. And by attacks, we mean conversation.

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