June 24, 2009

The numbers on affirmative action in admissions at Duke U.

A recent paper, "Does Affirmative Action Lead to Mismatch: A New Test and Evidence" by four economists (Arcidiacomo, Aucejo, Fang, and Spenner) has some inside info from the Duke U. admissions department on Duke students, including SAT scores and freshmen grades. The table on p. 14 shows the standard rank order -- Asian, white, Latino, black -- on most of the various measures that the Admissions department worries about, as well as freshman grades. The overall results aren't surprising:

Asian: SAT 1464, freshman year GPA 3.40
White: SAT 1417 (s.d. 100), freshman year GPA 3.33 (s.d. 0.46)
Latino: SAT 1349, freshman year GPA 3.13
Black: SAT 1281, freshman year GPA 2.90

An SAT gap between whites and blacks of 136 points is not particularly large. (The Bell Curve lists SAT gaps from the early 1990s for 26 well-known colleges, ranging from 95 points at Harvard, the apex predator in the black recruitment game, to 271 at Rice, which is a small school that competes in big time sports, so a high proportion of Rice's black students are also jocks.) Perhaps Duke's famous basketball team raises its profile in the black community, letting it do well in recruiting strong black students (e.g., its black basketball players tend to be from upscale backgrounds, like Grant Hill and Shane Battier, plus Italian-speaking Kobe Bryant and his 1100 SAT score were headed to Duke from Lower Merion HS until the Lakers picked him straight out of high school).

The standard deviation for white students on the SAT (100) is about half of what it is for whites overall, so the 136 point racial gap is equal to 1.36 standard deviations. In contrast, the GPA gap is only about 0.94 standard deviations, probably due to to blacks taking easier courses.

The economists are concerned about investigating whether or not affirmative action admissions to Duke could hurt the NAM students by tossing them in over their heads. To my mind, it all depends on something they don't look at: intended major. If you just want a soft major, then you should of course take any opportunity presented to you to attend an elite private college with a huge endowment. High tuition colleges don't flunk out many people, so about the worst that could happen to you is that you spend four years feeling like Michelle Obama or Sonia Sotomayor, worried that people can tell that you got in on affirmative action and angry at them for noticing. But, really, cry me a river ...

On the other hand, if you want to major in something hard like mechanical engineering, then maybe you shouldn't jump in too far over your head.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've always found focus on mismatch to be pathetic. We've come to the point where the only question we're allowed to ask about AA is whether it's good for NAMs. Not a mention any more about the whites that get hurt by it.

One thing that would be interesting to look at: Duke runs a D-I sports program. It's trying to staff many teams with a fairly small student body. Apart from basketball and maybe football, the overwhelming majority of Duke's athletes are probably white. I doubt many asians are athletic recruits. Therefore, I wonder what the average SATs and GPAs were among white and asian non-athletes. I suspect that a large portion of the Asian advantage would disappear and the numbers may even reverse.

L. Suzuki Kahn said...

This article provides more evidence that the only way America can survive is to become a lot more Asian. Then one day we can finally become as great a society as China or Japan or the other great Asian civilizations that continue to overwhelm the world with their greatness.

As someone who just got back from Hong Kong and Mainland China I can tell you that they are great great great and unstoppable in their utterly great capacity with the sole exception of the Japanese rival greatness wellspring.

I am a genius level non-Asian thinker but honestly after returning from a trip to Asia I can only sit in my leather office chair and ponder on how I did not meet a single Asian mind that was not superior to mine during all of my travels. Astonishingly great are the only words that describe the experience.

Can you imagine how much better the United States would be if it were filled with Asians coast to coast? Do you understand how far we are from fulfilling our potential? Myself, I will not rest until this country has a billion plus population with a vast majority of Asians. At that point we might finally be competitive with the astounding greatness of China.

Another recent example of China greatness is the special software scheme that they have invented to block and filter the internet universe from each user. The Chinese style of innovation and daring tech exploration and capacity for outside the box thinking continues to raise the bar for greatness to a level that the rest of the world can dream about reaching someday.

Anonymous said...

"Asian: SAT 1464, freshman year GPA 3.40
White: SAT 1417 (s.d. 100), freshman year GPA 3.33 (s.d. 0.46)
Latino: SAT 1349, freshman year GPA 3.13
Black: SAT 1281, freshman year GPA 2.90"

I just had to do this:

In "Race Differences in Intelligence" by Richard Lynn there is a table (on p. 212) showing racial differences in average brain volume.

East Asians - 1443cc
Europeans - 1369cc
Native Americans - 1366cc
Africans - 1280cc

Total coincidence, of course.

Anonymous said...

OT: There's a Steve Sailer imposter on the following ThinkProgress thread:

http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/06/all-nonwhite-converging-on-hypernegative-view-of-gop.php

RKU said...

Very interesting data. But something else really jumps out at me.

For the sake of argument, let's assume the unbiased accuracy of the SAT scores and that absolutely meritocratic admissions would correlate with them completely.

Given these assumptions, it's very interesting that the Asian-white gap (47 points) is almost 3/4ths the size of the white-Latino gap (68 points).

Now everyone knows perfectly well that Latinos benefit from AA/"diversity". So wouldn't this tend to imply that whites *also* benefit from AA, at least with respect to Asians? And since Asians are extremely studious, I'll bet that H.S. grades would show a much larger Asian-white gap.

It's certainly possible that the white applicants are benefitting from non-AA factors, like parental legacies or athletic preferences. But offhand, I really have to suspect a policy of AA for whites.

And I'll bet that a similar effect would be enormously greater at Harvard and the top Ivies. After all, there's been an absolutely gigantic rise in America's college-age Asian population over the last 25 years, without any remotely similar rise in percentage of Asians in the top Ivies.

Anonymous said...

The Asian GPA doesn't correlate as neatly with SAT scores as well as White, Latino, and Black ones do. Are the majors that Asian students selecting more difficult on average? If so, anyone care to attempt an estimate of probable black GPA based on an Asian course load?

Larry, San Francisco said...

Although I wouldn't be shocked to find out that Duke discriminates against Asians, I think an alternative explanation for white students having lower scores is the greater proportion of legacy students and athletes who are white.
I agree with Steve, if you get into a high ranking college you can always find easy classes (especially ethnic studies). I think the tragedy occurs when a NAM student who has some math/engineering/science aptitude goes to a school like Duke flunks out of the hard classes and ends up having to take a doofus major. It would be better for him and society if had attended a good second tier technical school like Virginia Tech or Cal Poly in which he could have been successful.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Hey, that Steve Sailer imposter is pretty funny.

Reactionary said...

If so, anyone care to attempt an estimate of probable black GPA based on an Asian course load?

Hatecrime. Hatefact. This would be a hateattempt.

eh said...

...probably due to to blacks taking easier courses.

Yes, more information -- such as what you suggest -- is needed to make GPA data interesting.

Not a mention any more about the whites that get hurt by it.

I wonder how parents of high-achieving white students rejected by Duke, especially 'liberal' parents who otherwise might normally express support for affirmative action, feel when they see this kind of data. Of course most of them never do.

Zylonet said...

--Now everyone knows perfectly well that Latinos benefit from AA/"diversity". So wouldn't this tend to imply that whites *also* benefit from AA, at least with respect to Asians?--

I think it is well established that whites receive affirmative action benefits to UC Berkeley and UCLA. The powers that be should just let those schools become 100% Asian, or whatever the ending fraction will be. Unfortunately, justice is denied by the liberal admissions committees who cannot admit any difficult reality. I would imagine, that absent lazy whites, UCLA's academics would improve. Some may try to justify white AA by arguing that whites are more innovative than Asians. This argument is a crock. Even if there is a white advantage, which I doubt, where is the evidence that white innovation can be fostered in an Asian dominated, multi-cultural environment?

The demographics of this country have changed, our history has been demolished. Memories of idllyic childhoods, of pioneering grandparents, they are just that: memories of a way of life that is gone forever from this nation. Now we have new classes of people who cannot relate one iota to our past. They cannot relate to an uncle's farm or hearing stories about generations past and ancestors impact on this land. A nation is first and foremost it's people and their collective sense. We are soon to be 50% imports or children of imports. There is nothing left to preserve for one cannot battle the forces of 150 million people. The movement of our impending destruction has been set into motion; the physics are assured.

Carolyn said...

C'mon, Steve. Everyone knows that Mechanical Engineering is the easy one. The tough one is Electrical Engineering. If you can't hack that you switch majors to ME, then to Civil Engineering, then to Industrial. The students get better looking, too, as the curriculum gets easier. (No comment on Chem E's since they don't overlap as many classes as EEs/MEs do)

eh said...

...without any remotely similar rise in percentage of Asians in the top Ivies.

I think you way over-estimate the number of Asians as a population fraction, which is normally the focus of affirmative action initiatives -- to get proportional representation (at least).

No idea what the situation is at the "top Ivies". But for a number of years now Asians have actually outnumbered Whites at UCLA, which I believe they now do at several other campuses as well, e.g. Berkeley, as well as perhaps in the UC system as a whole. Asians are significantly less than 20% of California's population.

So I don't think they have anything to complain about.

Aside from any debate on affirmative action, I personally find the demographic transformation of California deeply troubling. Perhaps even more so when I stroll across the UC Berkeley campus -- the whole 'look and feel' of the place is completely different, and you begin to wonder what country you are in...

headache said...

Zylonet,
Nice try. But whenever I can, I avoid buying Asian products. I prefer stuff made in Germany and the US, thanks. Anyway, why are so many Asians (and Africans and Latinos) trying to get into Europe and the US if these white societies suck so much? I mean its not as if whites are rowing over the Mediterranean in dingy boats in order to illegally enter a paradise such as Libya, Morocco or even Ghana, is it? And I do not hear of mass white illegal immigration into India and China, do I?

Anonymous said...

It is a bit jarring to see current day SAT scores compared to my pre-centering ones. 800s are a dime a dozen these days, whereas my 750 verbal from 1974 was truly rare.

wake up said...

>Aside from any debate on affirmative action, I personally find the demographic transformation of California deeply troubling. Perhaps even more so when I stroll across the UC Berkeley campus -- the whole 'look and feel' of the place is completely different, and you begin to wonder what country you are in...

ha....nice post welcome to the new improved america you damn racist bigot chauvinist you.........this is america version 2.0 and guaranteed to be 100% more super high quality futuristic and advanced than the crusty old white european version of america......

deeply troubling you say? i bet you find london antwerp moscow bangkok and tokyo deeply troubling also you bigot.....they are going to have to reeducate you to be a good world citizen for sure......

see the massive irish immigration of 100 years ago did not create pathological political patronage machines in all of the eastern cities that supposedely still haunt us to this day....that never happened......

and see the massive italian immigration of a century ago didn't import an extremely pathological alien mafia network that still haunts us to this day.....that never happened......

and see the massive jewish immigration from a century ago.....ooooops better stop there....

what i'm trying to say is pay no attention to that sick old white bigot teddy roosevelt who warned against massive asiatic immigration as being incompatible with our culture our heritage our very nation.......that old cracker didn't know what he was talking about.....meanwhile people like barbara boxer and the clintons and george soros and ahhhhnold schwarzestauffer now they know what they are talking about.......

they know what they are talking about......they know what they are talking about......they know what they are talking about......

there's nothing wrong with california that a bit more immigration can't fix......concentrate on being a good world citizen all you bigots out there in isteve land......or uncle samarkand is going to have to send you off to camp for some reeducation.......

jimbo said...

You're right about the relative importance of your classmates in engineering vs. "soft" classes: in most of my, say, history classes, if you did the work you got an A - it didn't really matter how anyone else did. But I remember engineering exams where everyone failed (based on a pure numerical score), so the only thing that mattered was where you ended up on the curve. If your classmates were too smart, you were screwed...

Anonymous said...

and see the massive italian immigration of a century ago didn't import an extremely pathological alien mafia network that still haunts us to this day.....that never happened......

The mafia doesn't exist. Just ask Senator Pat Geary.

Anonymous said...

I can't see how Chinese and Japanese immigration can do anything but improve the U.S. -- raise the average I.Q. and civility index. Bring in a billion of them, I say.

Anonymous said...

Black: SAT 1281, freshman year GPA 2.90

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^



Now break THAT down into athletes and non-athletes. The athletes probably take much easier courses and get plenty of "extra credit"...

PRCalDude said...

Where have we seen mean distribution gaps like that before, I mean, besides everywhere?

Dutch Boy said...

Students who wish to major in something difficult would do well to avoid prestigious universities and select, small liberal arts universities instead. Universities gain prestige by hiring a prestigious faculty who want nothing to do with undergrads (let 'em have TAs!). Their focus is on grad programs and thus they are good places to attend graduate school.

Φ said...

The standard deviation for white students on the SAT (100) is about half of what it is for whites overall, so the 136 point racial gap is equal to 1.36 standard deviations. In contrast, the GPA gap is only about 0.94 standard deviations, probably due to to blacks taking easier courses.

Maybe. But the alternative explanation -- that the SAT underpredicts black academic performance (i.e. is biased against them) -- also asserts itself. You know and I know that there is much evidence against this alternative, but when you don't make a point of saying so, your explanation that blacks take easier courses looks, you know, biased.

josh said...

Re 'Anonymous":"...my 750 verbal from 1974 was truly rare." With a 750 verbal, I'd expect you to produce a more interesting post.

David said...

Do the athletes still take Basket Weaving 101 and History of Jimi Hendrix?

John said...

Sotomayor made summa at Princeton. She crushed the great majority of white competition. I would advise you to be more careful. People who don't like your message are eager to portray you as a racist. Careless statements that line up with the bias they attribute to you don't help you.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, if you want to major in something hard like mechanical engineering, then maybe you shouldn't jump in too far over your head.

This is kind of ironic, because at Duke the few black engineering majors tended to cluster in Mechanical Engineering, for reasons I never understood.

Svigor said...

Not a mention any more about the whites that get hurt by it.

Funny, I was thinking something similar while clicking through to read the comments; AA wouldn't be such a big deal, except it's a part of this giant edifice of crap that whites are taxed to fund, and they get not just nothing out of it, but nothing in return.

How about, in return for funding this mountain of crap, we get to, you know, have political self-determination and free association? We'll pay the Infidel Tax if that's what it takes.

Uh Buuut Noooo! We have to die, too. Well, that's a deal-breaker for me.

RKU said...

see the massive irish immigration of 100 years ago did not create pathological political patronage machines in all of the eastern cities that supposedely still haunt us to this day....that never happened......

and see the massive italian immigration of a century ago didn't import an extremely pathological alien mafia network that still haunts us to this day.....that never happened......

and see the massive jewish immigration from a century ago.....ooooops better stop there....


Finally!---Someone writing with some even-handed honesty about the history of American immigration. Endlessly cheer-leading past European immigration and endlessly denouncing today's mostly non-European immigration is just silly.

My own empirical opinion is that today's immigrants generally cluster well within the central mainstream of historic immigration. They generally produce more trouble than the Germanic and Nordic immigrants did, but much less than...certain other groups!

Anonymous said...

I bet a large percentage of Asians at Duke are from Asia directly.

stari_momak said...

Finally!---Someone writing with some even-handed honesty about the history of American immigration. -- RKU

You've obviously not spent much time at Sailer's main outlet, vdare.com.

Oh, and those immigration 'waves' stopped -- or in some cases , were stopped by self-confident 'nativists'.

Anonymous said...

---My own empirical opinion is that today's immigrants generally cluster well within the central mainstream of historic immigration. They generally produce more trouble than the Germanic and Nordic immigrants did, but much less than...certain other groups!---


That explains why Italians/Irish/Slavs who are the descendants of immigrants are today still in the 'hood and are worse than their forefathers when it comes to things like education, social ills, etc...

Michael said...

Didn't Sotomayor do very well at Princeton? I don't get this particular preoccupation. It's one thing to assert that things are on average a certain way, but exceptions occur. Sotomayor seems at the very least exceptional by the standards of a normal undergraduate class.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

John, Michael. Individual achievements are not the point of the post. The plural of anecdote is not data.

As to worries about types of immigration, I am aware of IQ differences and would prefer those with higher scores - other things being equal (see Newsweek post). But I prefer much more to have those who will sign on to traditional American ideals of liberty and justice. Wherever we can get those is fine with me.

I privately suspect that we will get them more readily from Anglospheric countries and their colonies, but am entirely comfortable letting those chips fall as they will.

Anonymous said...

"Didn't Sotomayor do very well at Princeton? I don't get this particular preoccupation. It's one thing to assert that things are on average a certain way, but exceptions occur. Sotomayor seems at the very least exceptional by the standards of a normal undergraduate class."

Michael, check out this essay by Mencius Moldbug discussing, among other things, with Somia's performance at Princeton:

http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2009/06/evidence-in-current-history.html

PeterW said...

Seems like the elite schools manage to draw out the best NAMs; it's the second-tier schools that pay a heavy price for their affirmative action.

Anonymous said...

"And I do not hear of mass white illegal immigration into India and China, do I?"

Places like Shanghai have changed too. There is a large resident white population. Many don't quite get their visa categories right and work at English tutoring centers.

Anonymous said...

"Seems like the elite schools manage to draw out the best NAMs; it's the second-tier schools that pay a heavy price for their affirmative action."

Maybe it is the minority students themselves who are paying the high price for student loans even when they can't pass and don't graduate and don't have the good paying job necessary to repay those loans. PC AA types are not above exploiting minorities for their own gain.