Harvard’s Recruitment of African American Applicants

Harvard Admission, Harvard Recruitment, Harvard Admissions Practices
A piece in The Harvard Crimson details the release of a working paper on Harvard’s recruitment practices.

Yesterday, we wrote about how all of our nation’s elite colleges market to students who don’t have a shot of earning admission (in addition to marketing to students who do have a shot of earning admission). And why? To increase their applications, to invariably lower their admission rates, and to boost their rankings. It’s that simple — and each and every highly selective institution is guilty of the practice. So it was no surprise for us to read an article today in The Harvard Crimson by Camille G. Caldera entitled “SFFA Expert Witness Releases Working Paper Examining Harvard’s Recruitment of African American Applicants” that essentially shines a light on how Harvard encourages some African American applicants to apply — in spite of the fact that their grades and/or scores preclude their admission — simply to boost the number of African American applicants to the school.

Paper Argues Harvard Recruits Applicants Who Don’t Have a Shot of Getting In

As Caldera writes in The Harvard Crimson, “A new working paper by Students for Fair Admissions expert witness Peter S. Arcidiacono alleged that Harvard sends recruitment materials to African American high school students who ‘effectively have no chance of being admitted’ in order to raise the number of African American applicants to the school each year and lower the College’s acceptance rate. The paper — accepted to the National Bureau of Economics Research on Monday — uses documents that the College made public as a part of its ongoing lawsuit with SFFA, an anti-affirmative action advocacy group. SFFA sued Harvard in 2014, alleging that the College unlawfully discriminates against Asian American applicants. Arcidiacono wrote that 38 percent of African American applicants to Harvard had ‘essentially no chance of admission based on their test scores alone.’ The paper has not been peer reviewed.”

Harvard and All Highly Selective Colleges Recruit Applicants Who Don’t Have a Shot of Getting In

It of course is no surprise to us that Harvard — or any highly selective university for that matter — would market to any students whose test scores preclude their admission. And it’s not like Harvard is guiltier than are other highly selective institutions. They all do it. Also, it’s not like Harvard and other highly selective institutions are only marketing to some African American students whose test scores preclude their admission. They are also marketing to Latinx, Native American, etc. applicants whose test scores preclude their admission. And, yes, they market to white applicants as well who don’t have a shot of getting in. Harvard and all highly selective colleges are equal opportunity marketers in that way!

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