The secret quotas in college admissions hours,secret the power movie in hindi songs,kathy in the secret life - Reviews

03.07.2015
Just before the Labor Day weekend, a front page New York Times story broke the news of the largest cheating scandal in Harvard University history, in which nearly half the students taking a Government course on the role of Congress had plagiarized or otherwise illegally collaborated on their final exam.1 Each year, Harvard admits just 1600 freshmen while almost 125 Harvard students now face possible suspension over this single incident. But should we really be so surprised at this behavior among the students at America’s most prestigious academic institution?
During this period, we have witnessed a huge national decline in well-paid middle class jobs in the manufacturing sector and other sources of employment for those lacking college degrees, with median American wages having been stagnant or declining for the last forty years. As a direct consequence, the war over college admissions has become astonishingly fierce, with many middle- or upper-middle class families investing quantities of time and money that would have seemed unimaginable a generation or more ago, leading to an all-against-all arms race that immiserates the student and exhausts the parents. But given such massive social and economic value now concentrated in a Harvard or Yale degree, the tiny handful of elite admissions gatekeepers enjoy enormous, almost unprecedented power to shape the leadership of our society by allocating their supply of thick envelopes. Just a few years ago Pulitzer Prize-winning former Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Golden published The Price of Admission, a devastating account of the corrupt admissions practices at so many of our leading universities, in which every sort of non-academic or financial factor plays a role in privileging the privileged and thereby squeezing out those high-ability, hard-working students who lack any special hook. An admissions system based on non-academic factors often amounting to institutionalized venality would seem strange or even unthinkable among the top universities of most other advanced nations in Europe or Asia, though such practices are widespread in much of the corrupt Third World.
Although the evidence of college admissions corruption presented in Golden’s book is quite telling, the focus is almost entirely on current practices, and largely anecdotal rather than statistical. Karabel’s massive documentation—over 700 pages and 3000 endnotes—establishes the remarkable fact that America’s uniquely complex and subjective system of academic admissions actually arose as a means of covert ethnic tribal warfare.
As Karabel repeatedly demonstrates, the major changes in admissions policy which later followed were usually determined by factors of raw political power and the balance of contending forces rather than any idealistic considerations.
Philosophical consistency appears notably absent in many of the prominent figures involved in these admissions battles, with both liberals and conservatives sometimes favoring academic merit and sometimes non-academic factors, whichever would produce the particular ethnic student mix they desired for personal or ideological reasons. At times, external judicial or political forces would be summoned to override university admissions policy, often succeeding in this aim. Although nearly all of Karabel’s study is focused on the earlier history of admissions policy at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, with the developments of the last three decades being covered in just a few dozen pages, he finds complete continuity down to the present day, with the notorious opacity of the admissions process still allowing most private universities to admit whomever they want for whatever reasons they want, even if the reasons and the admissions decisions may eventually change over the years. The overwhelming focus of Karabel’s book is on changes in Jewish undergraduate percentages at each university, and this is probably less due to his own ethnic heritage than because the data provides an extremely simple means of charting the ebb and flow of admissions policy: Jews were a high-performing group, whose numbers could only be restricted by major deviations from an objective meritocratic standard. Obviously, anti-Jewish discrimination in admissions no longer exists at any of these institutions, but a roughly analogous situation may be found with a group whom Golden and others have sometimes labeled “The New Jews,” namely Asian-Americans.
Such fears that checking the “Asian” box on an admissions application may lead to rejection are hardly unreasonable, given that studies have documented a large gap between the average test scores of whites and Asians successfully admitted to elite universities. These broad statistical differences in the admission requirements for Asians are given a human face in Golden’s discussions of this subject, in which he recounts numerous examples of Asian-American students who overcame dire family poverty, immigrant adversity, and other enormous personal hardships to achieve stellar academic performance and extracurricular triumphs, only to be rejected by all their top university choices. All these elite universities strongly deny the existence of any sort of racial discrimination against Asians in the admissions process, let alone an “Asian quota,” with senior administrators instead claiming that the potential of each student is individually evaluated via a holistic process far superior to any mechanical reliance on grades or test scores; but such public postures are identical to those taken by their academic predecessors in the 1920s and 1930s as documented by Karabel. The ethnic composition of Harvard undergraduates certainly follows a highly intriguing pattern.
Even more surprising has been the sheer constancy of these percentages, with almost every year from 1995–2011 showing an Asian enrollment within a single point of the 16.5 percent average, despite huge fluctuations in the number of applications and the inevitable uncertainty surrounding which students will accept admission. In another strong historical parallel, all the other Ivy League universities seem to have gone through similar shifts in Asian enrollment at similar times and reached a similar plateau over the last couple of decades. The largely constant Asian numbers at these elite colleges are particularly strange when we consider that the underlying population of Asians in America has been anything but static, instead growing at the fastest pace of any American racial group, having increased by almost 50 percent during the last decade, and more than doubling since 1993. Put another way, the percentage of college-age Asian-Americans attending Harvard peaked around 1993, and has since dropped by over 50 percent, a decline somewhat larger than the fall in Jewish enrollment which followed the imposition of secret quotas in 1925.25 And we have noted the parallel trends in the other Ivy League schools, which also replicates the historical pattern. Trends of Asian enrollment at Caltech and the Ivy League universities, compared with growth of Asian college-age population; Asian age cohort population figures are based on Census CPS, and given the small sample size, are subject to considerable yearly statistical fluctuations. Furthermore, during this exact same period a large portion of the Asian-American population moved from first-generation immigrant poverty into the ranks of the middle class, greatly raising their educational aspirations for their children.
One obvious possible explanation for these trends might be a decline in average Asian scholastic performance, which would certainly be possible if more and more Asian students from the lower levels of the ability pool were pursuing an elite education.27 The mean SAT scores for Asian students show no such large decline, but since we would expect elite universities to draw their students from near the absolute top of the performance curve, average scores by race are potentially less significant than the Asian fraction of America’s highest performing students. To the extent that the hundred thousand or so undergraduates at Ivy League schools and their approximate peers are selected by academic merit, they would mostly be drawn from the top one-half to one percent of their American age-cohort, and this is the appropriate pool to consider. Fortunately, allegations of anti-Asian admissions bias have become a topic of widespread and heated debate on the Internet, and disgruntled Asian-American activists have diligently located various types of data to support their accusations, with the recent ethnic distribution of National Merit Scholarship (NMS) semifinalists being among the most persuasive. For example, California has a population comparable to that of the next two largest states combined, and its 2010 total of 2,003 NMS semifinalists included well over 1,100 East Asian or South Asian family names. In addition, the number of test-takers is sufficiently large that an examination of especially distinctive last names allows us to pinpoint and roughly quantify the academic performance of different Asian groups. Interestingly enough, these Asian performance ratios are remarkably similar to those worked out by Nathaniel Weyl in his 1989 book The Geography of American Achievement, in which he estimated that Korean and Chinese names were over-represented by 1000 percent or more on the complete 1987 lists of national NMS semifinalists, while Vietnamese names were only somewhat more likely to appear than the white average.31 This consistency is quite impressive when we consider that America’s Asian population has tripled since the late 1980s, with major changes as well in socio-economic distribution and other characteristics. The results for states other than California reflect this same huge abundance of high performing Asian students.
America’s eight largest states contain nearly half our total population as well as over 60 percent of all Asian-Americans, and each has at least one NMS semifinalist list available for the years 2010–2012. Ironically enough, the methodology used to select these NMS semifinalists may considerably understate the actual number of very high-ability Asian students.
This evidence of a massively disproportionate Asian presence among top-performing students only increases if we examine the winners of national academic competitions, especially those in mathematics and science, where judging is the most objective.
Given that Asians accounted for just 1.5 percent of the population in 1980 and often lived in relatively impoverished immigrant families, the longer-term historical trends are even more striking. The statistical trend for the Science Talent Search finalists, numbering many thousands of top science students, has been the clearest: Asians constituted 22 percent of the total in the 1980s, 29 percent in the 1990s, 36 percent in the 2000s, and 64 percent in the 2010s. Yet even while all these specific Asian-American academic achievement trends were rising at such an impressive pace, the relative enrollment of Asians at Harvard was plummeting, dropping by over half during the last twenty years, with a range of similar declines also occurring at Yale, Cornell, and most other Ivy League universities. The implications of such massive pressure may be seen in a widely-discussed front page 2005 Wall Street Journal story entitled “The New White Flight.”34 The article described the extreme academic intensity at several predominantly Asian high schools in Cupertino and other towns in Silicon Valley, and the resulting exodus of white students, who preferred to avoid such an exceptionally focused and competitive academic environment, which included such severe educational tension. Although the “Asian Tiger Mom” behavior described by author Amy Chua provoked widespread hostility and ridicule, consider the situation from her perspective. The claim that most elite American universities employ a de facto Asian quota system is certainly an inflammatory charge in our society. Obviously, the Caltech curriculum is narrowly focused on mathematics, science, and engineering, and since Asians tend to be especially strong in those subjects, the enrollment statistics might be somewhat distorted compared to a more academically balanced university.
In considering these statistics, we must take into account that California is one of our most heavily Asian states, containing over one-quarter of the total national population, but also that a substantial fraction of UC students are drawn from other parts of the country. A natural question to consider is the surprising lack of attention this issue seems to have attracted, despite such remarkably telling statistics and several articles over the years in major newspapers by Golden and other prominent journalists. Indeed, Karabel convincingly demonstrates that the collapse of the long-standing Jewish quotas in the Ivy League during the decade following World War II only occurred as a result of massive media and political pressure, pressure surely facilitated by very heavy Jewish ownership of America’s major media organs, including all three television networks, eight of nine major Hollywood studios, and many of the leading newspapers, including both the New York Times and the Washington Post. But before we conclude that our elite media organs are engaging in an enormous “conspiracy of silence” regarding this egregious pattern of racial discrimination at our most prestigious universities, we should explore alternate explanations for these striking results. In recent decades, the notion of basing admissions on “colorblind” meritocratic standards such as standardized academic test scores has hardly been an uncontroversial position, with advocates for a fully “diversified” student body being far more prominent within the academic community.
We must remember that at all the universities discussed above, Asian students are already enrolled in numbers far above their 5 percent share of the national population, and the Iron Law of Arithmetic is that percentages must always total to one hundred. Furthermore, elite universities explicitly claim to consider a wide range of other admissions factors besides academic performance.
The best means of testing this hypothesis would be to compare Asian admissions with those of a somewhat similar control group. Fortunately, an alternate comparison population is readily available, namely that of American Jews,48 a group which is both reasonably well-defined and one which possesses excellent statistical information, gathered by various Jewish organizations and academic scholars. Once we begin separating out the Jewish portion of Ivy League enrollment, our picture of the overall demographics of the student bodies is completely transformed. One reasonable explanation for these remarkable statistics might be that although Asian-Americans are a high-performing academic group, American Jews may be far higher-performing, perhaps not unlikely for an ethnicity that gave the world Einstein, Freud, and so many other prominent intellectual figures. The easiest means of exploring this hypothesis is to repeat much of our earlier examination of Asian academic performance, but now to include Jews as part of our analysis.
For example, consider California, second only to New York in the total number of its Jews, and with its Jewish percentage far above the national average. One means of corroborating these surprising results is to consider the ratios of particularly distinctive ethnic names, and Sailer reported such exact findings made by one of his Jewish readers.
When we consider the apparent number of Jewish students across the NMS semifinalist lists of other major states, we get roughly similar results.
This same pattern of relative Asian and Jewish performance on aptitude exams generally appears in the other major states whose recent NMS semifinalist lists I have located and examined, though there is considerable individual variability, presumably due to the particular local characteristics of the Asian and Jewish populations.
As noted earlier, NMS semifinalist lists are available for a total of twenty-five states, including the eight largest, which together contain 75 percent of our national population, as well as 81 percent of American Jews and 80 percent of Asian-Americans, and across this total population Asians are almost twice as likely to be top scoring students as Jews. Earlier we had noted that the tests used to select NMS semifinalists actually tilted substantially against Asian students by double-weighting verbal skills and excluding visuospatial ability, but in the case of Jews this same testing-bias has exactly the opposite impact.
But suppose these estimates are correct, and Asians overall are indeed twice as likely as Jews to rank among America’s highest performing students. But should we really be so surprised at this behavior among the students at Americaa€™s most prestigious academic institution? Although the evidence of college admissions corruption presented in Goldena€™s book is quite telling, the focus is almost entirely on current practices, and largely anecdotal rather than statistical. Karabela€™s massive documentationa€”over 700 pages and 3000 endnotesa€”establishes the remarkable fact that Americaa€™s uniquely complex and subjective system of academic admissions actually arose as a means of covert ethnic tribal warfare. Although nearly all of Karabela€™s study is focused on the earlier history of admissions policy at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, with the developments of the last three decades being covered in just a few dozen pages, he finds complete continuity down to the present day, with the notorious opacity of the admissions process still allowing most private universities to admit whomever they want for whatever reasons they want, even if the reasons and the admissions decisions may eventually change over the years. The overwhelming focus of Karabela€™s book is on changes in Jewish undergraduate percentages at each university, and this is probably less due to his own ethnic heritage than because the data provides an extremely simple means of charting the ebb and flow of admissions policy: Jews were a high-performing group, whose numbers could only be restricted by major deviations from an objective meritocratic standard. Obviously, anti-Jewish discrimination in admissions no longer exists at any of these institutions, but a roughly analogous situation may be found with a group whom Golden and others have sometimes labeled a€?The New Jews,a€? namely Asian-Americans.
Such fears that checking the a€?Asiana€? box on an admissions application may lead to rejection are hardly unreasonable, given that studies have documented a large gap between the average test scores of whites and Asians successfully admitted to elite universities. These broad statistical differences in the admission requirements for Asians are given a human face in Goldena€™s discussions of this subject, in which he recounts numerous examples of Asian-American students who overcame dire family poverty, immigrant adversity, and other enormous personal hardships to achieve stellar academic performance and extracurricular triumphs, only to be rejected by all their top university choices.


All these elite universities strongly deny the existence of any sort of racial discrimination against Asians in the admissions process, let alone an a€?Asian quota,a€? with senior administrators instead claiming that the potential of each student is individually evaluated via a holistic process far superior to any mechanical reliance on grades or test scores; but such public postures are identical to those taken by their academic predecessors in the 1920s and 1930s as documented by Karabel. Even more surprising has been the sheer constancy of these percentages, with almost every year from 1995a€“2011 showing an Asian enrollment within a single point of the 16.5 percent average, despite huge fluctuations in the number of applications and the inevitable uncertainty surrounding which students will accept admission. Put another way, the percentage of college-age Asian-Americans attending Harvard peaked around 1993, and has since dropped by over 50 percent, a decline somewhat larger than the fall in Jewish enrollment which followed the imposition of secret quotas in 1925.[25] And we have noted the parallel trends in the other Ivy League schools, which also replicates the historical pattern. One obvious possible explanation for these trends might be a decline in average Asian scholastic performance, which would certainly be possible if more and more Asian students from the lower levels of the ability pool were pursuing an elite education.[27] The mean SAT scores for Asian students show no such large decline, but since we would expect elite universities to draw their students from near the absolute top of the performance curve, average scores by race are potentially less significant than the Asian fraction of Americaa€™s highest performing students. Interestingly enough, these Asian performance ratios are remarkably similar to those worked out by Nathaniel Weyl in his 1989 book The Geography of American Achievement, in which he estimated that Korean and Chinese names were over-represented by 1000 percent or more on the complete 1987 lists of national NMS semifinalists, while Vietnamese names were only somewhat more likely to appear than the white average.[31] This consistency is quite impressive when we consider that Americaa€™s Asian population has tripled since the late 1980s, with major changes as well in socio-economic distribution and other characteristics. Americaa€™s eight largest states contain nearly half our total population as well as over 60 percent of all Asian-Americans, and each has at least one NMS semifinalist list available for the years 2010a€“2012. In the last generation or two, the funnel of opportunity in American society has drastically narrowed, with a greater and greater proportion of our financial, media, business, and political elites being drawn from a relatively small number of our leading universities, together with their professional schools. Meanwhile, there has been an astonishing concentration of wealth at the top, with America’s richest 1 percent now possessing nearly as much net wealth as the bottom 95 percent.2 This situation, sometimes described as a “winner take all society,” leaves families desperate to maximize the chances that their children will reach the winners’ circle, rather than risk failure and poverty or even merely a spot in the rapidly deteriorating middle class. The absurd parental efforts of an Amy Chua, as recounted in her 2010 bestseller Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, were simply a much more extreme version of widespread behavior among her peer-group, which is why her story resonated so deeply among our educated elites. The notion of a wealthy family buying their son his entrance into the Grandes Ecoles of France or the top Japanese universities would be an absurdity, and the academic rectitude of Europe’s Nordic or Germanic nations is even more severe, with those far more egalitarian societies anyway tending to deemphasize university rankings.
There, legions of angry microbloggers endlessly denounce the official corruption and abuse which permeate so much of the economic system. For a broader historical perspective, we should consider The Chosen by Berkeley sociologist Jerome Karabel, an exhaustive and award-winning 2005 narrative history of the last century of admissions policy at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (I will henceforth sometimes abbreviate these “top three” most elite schools as “HYP”). During the 1920s, the established Northeastern Anglo-Saxon elites who then dominated the Ivy League wished to sharply curtail the rapidly growing numbers of Jewish students, but their initial attempts to impose simple numerical quotas provoked enormous controversy and faculty opposition.10 Therefore, the approach subsequently taken by Harvard President A. For example, in the aftermath of World War II, Jewish organizations and their allies mobilized their political and media resources to pressure the universities into increasing their ethnic enrollment by modifying the weight assigned to various academic and non-academic factors, raising the importance of the former over the latter. Despite these plain facts, Harvard and the other top Ivy League schools today publicly deny any hint of discrimination along racial or ethnic lines, except insofar as they acknowledge providing an admissions boost to under-represented racial minorities, such as blacks or Hispanics. Fortunately, we can investigate the plausibility of these claims by examining the decades of officially reported enrollment data available from the website of the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES).
Harvard had always had a significant Asian-American enrollment, generally running around 5 percent when I had attended in the early 1980s. By contrast, prior to 1993 Asian enrollment had often changed quite substantially from year to year. As mentioned, the share of Asians at Harvard peaked at over 20 percent in 1993, then immediately declined and thereafter remained roughly constant at a level 3–5 points lower.
Although elite universities generally refuse to release their applicant totals for different racial groups, some data occasionally becomes available.
It is perfectly possible that a particular ethnic population might have a relatively high mean SAT score, while still being somewhat less well represented in that top percent or so of measured ability; racial performance does not necessarily follow an exact “bell curve” distribution. Students receiving this official designation represent approximately the top one-half of one percent of a state’s high school students as determined by their scores on the PSAT, twin brother to the SAT. California may be one of the most heavily Asian states, but even so Asians of high school age are still outnumbered by whites roughly 3-to-1, while there were far more high scoring Asians.
Asians account for just 6 percent of the population in these states, but contribute almost one-third of all the names on these rosters of high performing students.
According to testing experts, the three main subcomponents of intellectual ability are verbal, mathematical, and visuospatial, with the last of these representing the mental manipulation of objects.
Each year, America picks its five strongest students to represent our country in the International Math Olympiad, and during the three decades since 1980, some 34 percent of these team members have been Asian-American, with the corresponding figure for the International Computing Olympiad being 27 percent. In particular science subjects, the Physics Olympiad winners follow a similar trajectory, with Asians accounting for 23 percent of the winners during the 1980s, 25 percent during the 1990s, 46 percent during the 2000s, and a remarkable 81 percent since 2010. On the one hand, America over the last two decades has produced a rapidly increasing population of college-age Asians, whose families are increasingly affluent, well-educated, and eager to secure an elite education for their children. But should the families of those Asian students be blamed if according to Espensade and his colleagues their children require far higher academic performance than their white classmates to have a similar chance of gaining admission to selective colleges? Being herself a Harvard graduate, she would like her daughters to follow in her own Ivy League footsteps, but is probably aware that the vast growth in Asian applicants with no corresponding increase in allocated Asian slots requires heroic efforts to shape the perfect application package.
Indeed, our media and cultural elites view any accusations of “racial discrimination” as being among the most horrific of all possible charges, sometimes even regarded as more serious than mass murder.35 So before concluding that these accusations are probably true and considering possible social remedies, we should carefully reconsider their plausibility, given that they are largely based upon a mixture of circumstantial statistical evidence and the individual anecdotal cases presented by Golden and a small handful of other critical journalists. But Caltech selects its students by strict academic standards, with Golden praising it for being America’s shining example of a purely meritocratic university, almost untouched by the financial or political corruption so widespread in our other elite institutions. Therefore, we should also consider the enrollment figures for the highly-regarded University of California system, particularly its five most prestigious and selective campuses: Berkeley, UCLA, San Diego, Davis, and Irvine. The recent percentage of Asian NMS semifinalists in California has ranged between 55 percent and 60 percent, while for the rest of America the figure is probably closer to 20 percent, so an overall elite-campus UC Asian-American enrollment of around 40 percent seems reasonably close to what a fully meritocratic admissions system might be expected to produce. New York City contains America’s largest urban Asian population, and Asians are one-third or more of the entire state’s top scoring high school students. By contrast, Asian-Americans today neither own nor control even a single significant media outlet, and they constitute an almost invisible minority in films, television, radio, and print.
Perhaps we are considering the evidence from entirely the wrong perspective, and ignoring the most obvious—and relatively innocuous—explanation. Indeed, one of the main attacks against California’s 1996 Proposition 209 was that its requirement of race-neutrality in admissions would destroy the ethnic diversity of California’s higher education system, and the measure was vigorously opposed by the vast majority of vocal university academics, both within that state and throughout the nation.
So if additional slots were allocated to Asian applicants, these must necessarily come from some other group, perhaps blacks raised in the ghettos of Detroit or desperately poor Appalachian whites, who might be the first in their families to attend college.
Geographical diversity would certainly hurt Asian chances since nearly half their population lives in just the three states of California, New York, and Texas.44 Top athletes gain a strong admissions edge, and few Asians are found in the upper ranks of basketball, football, baseball, and other leading sports, an occasional Jeremy Lin notwithstanding.
One obvious candidate would be the population of elite East Coast WASPs which once dominated the Ivy League. In particular, Hillel, the nationwide Jewish student organization with chapters on most major university campuses, has for decades been providing extensive data on Jewish enrollment levels.
Indeed, Karabel opens the final chapter of his book by performing exactly this calculation and noting the extreme irony that the WASP demographic group which had once so completely dominated America’s elite universities and “virtually all the major institutions of American life” had by 2000 become “a small and beleaguered minority at Harvard,” being actually fewer in number than the Jews whose presence they had once sought to restrict.50 Very similar results seem to apply all across the Ivy League, with the disproportion often being even greater than the particular example emphasized by Karabel.
Both groups are highly urbanized, generally affluent, and geographically concentrated within a few states, so the “diversity” factors considered above would hardly seem to apply; yet Jews seem to fare much better at the admissions office. As noted earlier, America’s Asian population has been growing rapidly over the last couple of decades, so the substantial decline in reported Ivy League Asian enrollment has actually constituted a huge drop relative to their fraction of the population. Thus, if we assume that our elite universities reserve a portion of their slots for “diversity” while allocating the remainder based on “academic merit,” Jews might be handily beating Asians (and everyone else) in the latter competition.
Although Jewish names are not quite as absolutely distinctive as East or South Asian ones, they can be determined with reasonably good accuracy, so long as we are careful to note ambiguous cases and recognize that our estimates may easily be off by a small amount; furthermore, we can utilize especially distinctive names as a validation check.
For example, across the 2000-odd top scoring California students in 2010, there was just a single NMS semifinalist named Cohen, and also one each for Levy, Kaplan, and a last name beginning with “Gold.” Meanwhile, there were 49 Wangs and 36 Kims, plus a vast number of other highly distinctive Asian names.
New York has always been the center of the American Jewish community, and at 8.4 percent is half again as heavily Jewish as any other state, while probably containing a large fraction of America’s Jewish financial and intellectual elite. Across six years of Florida results, Asian students are more than twice as likely to be high scorers compared to their Jewish classmates, with the disparity being nearly as great in Pennsylvania. Extrapolating these results to the nation as a whole would produce a similar ratio, especially when we consider that Asian-rich California has among the toughest NMS semifinalist qualification thresholds. Jewish ability tends to be exceptionally strong in its verbal component and mediocre at best in the visuospatial,57 so the NMS semifinalist selection methodology would seem ideally designed to absolutely maximize the number of high-scoring Jews compared to other whites or (especially) East Asians. We must also consider that America’s Asian population is far larger in size, representing roughly 5 percent of college-age students, compared to just 1.8 percent for Jews. Meanwhile, there has been an astonishing concentration of wealth at the top, with Americaa€™s richest 1 percent now possessing nearly as much net wealth as the bottom 95 percent.[2] This situation, sometimes described as a a€?winner take all society,a€? leaves families desperate to maximize the chances that their children will reach the winnersa€™ circle, rather than risk failure and poverty or even merely a spot in the rapidly deteriorating middle class. The notion of a wealthy family buying their son his entrance into the Grandes Ecoles of France or the top Japanese universities would be an absurdity, and the academic rectitude of Europea€™s Nordic or Germanic nations is even more severe, with those far more egalitarian societies anyway tending to deemphasize university rankings.
For a broader historical perspective, we should consider The Chosen by Berkeley sociologist Jerome Karabel, an exhaustive and award-winning 2005 narrative history of the last century of admissions policy at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (I will henceforth sometimes abbreviate these a€?top threea€? most elite schools as a€?HYPa€?). During the 1920s, the established Northeastern Anglo-Saxon elites who then dominated the Ivy League wished to sharply curtail the rapidly growing numbers of Jewish students, but their initial attempts to impose simple numerical quotas provoked enormous controversy and faculty opposition.[10] Therefore, the approach subsequently taken by Harvard President A.
As mentioned, the share of Asians at Harvard peaked at over 20 percent in 1993, then immediately declined and thereafter remained roughly constant at a level 3a€“5 points lower. It is perfectly possible that a particular ethnic population might have a relatively high mean SAT score, while still being somewhat less well represented in that top percent or so of measured ability; racial performance does not necessarily follow an exact a€?bell curvea€? distribution. Students receiving this official designation represent approximately the top one-half of one percent of a statea€™s high school students as determined by their scores on the PSAT, twin brother to the SAT. The rise of a Henry Ford, from farm boy mechanic to world business tycoon, seems virtually impossible today, as even America’s most successful college dropouts such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg often turn out to be extremely well-connected former Harvard students. Over the last thirty years, America’s test-prep companies have grown from almost nothing into a $5 billion annual industry, allowing the affluent to provide an admissions edge to their less able children.
Senators may weigh their words and actions more carefully as their children approach college age.
But we almost never hear accusations of favoritism in university admissions, and this impression of strict meritocracy determined by the results of the national Gaokao college entrance examination has been confirmed to me by individuals familiar with that country.
Lawrence Lowell and his peers was to transform the admissions process from a simple objective test of academic merit into a complex and holistic consideration of all aspects of each individual applicant; the resulting opacity permitted the admission or rejection of any given applicant, allowing the ethnicity of the student body to be shaped as desired.
Then a decade or two later, this exact process was repeated in the opposite direction, as the early 1960s saw black activists and their liberal political allies pressure universities to bring their racial minority enrollments into closer alignment with America’s national population by partially shifting away from their recently enshrined focus on purely academic considerations. But given the enormous control these institutions exert on our larger society, we should test these claims against the evidence of the actual enrollment statistics.
Espenshade and his colleagues have demonstrated that among undergraduates at highly selective schools such as the Ivy League, white students have mean scores 310 points higher on the 1600 SAT scale than their black classmates, but Asian students average 140 points above whites.19 The former gap is an automatic consequence of officially acknowledged affirmative action policies, while the latter appears somewhat mysterious.
But during the following decade, the size of America’s Asian middle class grew rapidly, leading to a sharp rise in applications and admissions, with Asians exceeding 10 percent of undergraduates by the late 1980s and crossing the 20 percent threshold by 1993.


It is interesting to note that this exactly replicates the historical pattern observed by Karabel, in which Jewish enrollment rose very rapidly, leading to imposition of an informal quota system, after which the number of Jews fell substantially, and thereafter remained roughly constant for decades. Asians at Yale reached a 16.8 percent maximum in that same year, and soon dropped by about 3 points to a roughly constant level. Princeton’s records show that between 1980 and 1989, Asian-American applications increased by over 400 percent compared to just 8 percent for other groups, with an even more rapid increase for Brown during 1980-1987, while Harvard’s Asian applicants increased over 250 percent between 1976 and 1985.26 It seems likely that the statistics for other Ivy League schools would have followed a similar pattern and these trends would have at least partially continued over the decades which followed, just as the Asian presence has skyrocketed at selective public feeder schools such as Stuyvesant and Bronx Science in New York City and also at the top East Coast prep schools.
For one thing, a Census category such as “Asian” is hardly homogenous or monolithic, with South Asians and East Asians such as Chinese and Koreans generally having much higher performance compared to other groups such as Filipinos, Vietnamese, or Cambodians, just as the various types of “Hispanics” such as Cubans, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans differ widely in their socio-economic and academic profiles. Each year, the NMS Corporation distributes the names and schools of these semifinalists for each state, and dozens of these listings have been tracked down and linked on the Internet by determined activists, who have then sometimes estimated the ethnic distribution of the semifinalists by examining their family names.28 Obviously, such a name analysis provides merely an approximate result, but the figures are striking enough to warrant the exercise. Put another way, although Asians represented only about 11 percent of California high school students, they constituted almost 60 percent of the top scoring ones. Even this result may be a substantial underestimate, since over half these Asians are found in gigantic California, where extremely stiff academic competition has driven the qualifying NMS semifinalist threshold score to nearly the highest in the country; if students were selected based on a single nationwide standard, Asian numbers would surely be much higher.
Yet the qualifying NMS scores are based on math, reading, and writing tests, with the last two both corresponding to verbal ability, and without any test of visuospatial skills. The Intel Science Talent Search, begun in 1942 under the auspices of the Westinghouse Corporation, is America’s most prestigious high school science competition, and since 1980 some 32 percent of the 1320 finalists have been of Asian ancestry (see Appendix F).
Math Olympiad winners during the 1980s, but rose to a striking 58 percent of the total during the last thirteen years 2000–2012. The 2003–2012 Biology Olympiad winners were 68 percent Asian and Asians took an astonishing 90 percent of the top spots in the recent Chemistry Olympiads.
But on the other hand, it appears that these leading academic institutions have placed a rather strict upper limit on actual Asian enrollments, forcing these Asian students to compete more and more fiercely for a very restricted number of openings. Since Chua’s husband is not Asian, she could obviously encourage her children to improve their admissions chances by concealing their ethnic identity during the application process; but this would surely represent an enormous personal humiliation for a proud and highly successful Illinois-born American of Chinese ancestry. One obvious approach is to examine enrollment figures at those universities which for one reason or another may follow a different policy. And since the beginning of the 1990s, Caltech’s Asian-American enrollment has risen almost exactly in line with the growth of America’s underlying Asian population, with Asians now constituting nearly 40 percent of each class (See chart on p. For most Americans, what the media does not report simply does not exist, and there is virtually no major media coverage of what appear to be de facto Asian quotas at our top academic institutions.
Most leading progressives have long argued that the students selected by our elite institutions should at least roughly approximate the distribution of America’s national population, requiring that special consideration be given to underrepresented or underprivileged groups of all types.
These days in America, most Asians are a heavily urbanized, highly affluent population,43 overwhelmingly part of the middle- or upper-middle class, and boosting their Harvard numbers from three times their share of the population up to five or six might not be regarded as the best policy when other groups are far needier.
Since most Asians come from a recent immigrant background, they would rarely receive the “legacy boost” going to students whose families have been attending the Ivy League for generations.
Members of this group should also be negatively impacted by admissions preferences directed towards applicants from rural or impoverished backgrounds, but there seems considerable anecdotal evidence that they are still heavily over-represented in the Ivy League relative to their academic performance or athletic prowess, strengthening the suspicion that Asian applicants are receiving unfair treatment. Indeed, the average Jewish IQ has been widely reported in the range of 110–115, implying a huge abundance of individuals at the upper reaches of the distribution of intellect.
But strangely enough, when we perform this sort of analysis, it becomes somewhat difficult to locate major current evidence of the celebrated Jewish intellect and academic achievement discussed at such considerable length by Karabel and many other authors.
Thus, it appears that California Asians are perhaps three times as likely as Jews to do extremely well on academic tests, and this result remains unchanged if we adjust for the age distributions of the two populations.
But according to Census data, the combined number of American Cohens and Levys together outnumber the Wangs almost two-to-one, and the same is true for the four most common names beginning with “Gold.” Put another way, California contains nearly one-fifth of all American Jews, hence almost 60,000 Cohens, Kaplans, Levys, Goldens, Goldsteins, Goldbergs, Goldmans, and Golds, and this population produced only 4 NMS semifinalists, a ratio almost identical to that produced by our general last name estimates. Just as we might expect, the 2011 roster of New York NMS semifinalists is disproportionately filled with Jewish names, constituting about 21 percent of the total, a ratio twice as high as for any other state whose figures are available.
Meanwhile, the national number of Jewish semifinalists comes out at less than 6 percent of the total based on direct inspection of the individual names, with estimates based on either the particularly distinctive names considered by Sailer or the full set of such highly distinctive names used by Weyl yielding entirely consistent figures. Thus, the number of high-ability Jews we are finding should be regarded as an extreme upper bound to a more neutrally-derived total. The rise of a Henry Ford, from farm boy mechanic to world business tycoon, seems virtually impossible today, as even Americaa€™s most successful college dropouts such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg often turn out to be extremely well-connected former Harvard students. Over the last thirty years, Americaa€™s test-prep companies have grown from almost nothing into a $5 billion annual industry, allowing the affluent to provide an admissions edge to their less able children. Then a decade or two later, this exact process was repeated in the opposite direction, as the early 1960s saw black activists and their liberal political allies pressure universities to bring their racial minority enrollments into closer alignment with Americaa€™s national population by partially shifting away from their recently enshrined focus on purely academic considerations. Espenshade and his colleagues have demonstrated that among undergraduates at highly selective schools such as the Ivy League, white students have mean scores 310 points higher on the 1600 SAT scale than their black classmates, but Asian students average 140 points above whites.[19] The former gap is an automatic consequence of officially acknowledged affirmative action policies, while the latter appears somewhat mysterious. But during the following decade, the size of Americaa€™s Asian middle class grew rapidly, leading to a sharp rise in applications and admissions, with Asians exceeding 10 percent of undergraduates by the late 1980s and crossing the 20 percent threshold by 1993. Princetona€™s records show that between 1980 and 1989, Asian-American applications increased by over 400 percent compared to just 8 percent for other groups, with an even more rapid increase for Brown during 1980-1987, while Harvarda€™s Asian applicants increased over 250 percent between 1976 and 1985.[26] It seems likely that the statistics for other Ivy League schools would have followed a similar pattern and these trends would have at least partially continued over the decades which followed, just as the Asian presence has skyrocketed at selective public feeder schools such as Stuyvesant and Bronx Science in New York City and also at the top East Coast prep schools. For one thing, a Census category such as a€?Asiana€? is hardly homogenous or monolithic, with South Asians and East Asians such as Chinese and Koreans generally having much higher performance compared to other groups such as Filipinos, Vietnamese, or Cambodians, just as the various types of a€?Hispanicsa€? such as Cubans, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans differ widely in their socio-economic and academic profiles. Each year, the NMS Corporation distributes the names and schools of these semifinalists for each state, and dozens of these listings have been tracked down and linked on the Internet by determined activists, who have then sometimes estimated the ethnic distribution of the semifinalists by examining their family names.[28] Obviously, such a name analysis provides merely an approximate result, but the figures are striking enough to warrant the exercise.
The Intel Science Talent Search, begun in 1942 under the auspices of the Westinghouse Corporation, is Americaa€™s most prestigious high school science competition, and since 1980 some 32 percent of the 1320 finalists have been of Asian ancestry (see Appendix F). Math Olympiad winners during the 1980s, but rose to a striking 58 percent of the total during the last thirteen years 2000a€“2012.
Indeed, the early success of Facebook was largely due to the powerful imprimatur it enjoyed from its exclusive availability first only at Harvard and later restricted to just the Ivy League. And if such power is used to select our future elites in a corrupt manner, perhaps the inevitable result is the selection of corrupt elites, with terrible consequences for America.
On the face of it, ethnic enrollment levels which widely diverge from academic performance data or application rates and which remain remarkably static over time provide obvious circumstantial evidence for at least a de facto ethnic quota system. The Columbia peak also came in 1993 and the Cornell peak in 1995, in both cases followed by the same substantial drop, and the same is true for most of their East Coast peers.
Yet none of these huge changes in the underlying pool of Asian applicants seemed to have had noticeable impact on the number admitted to Harvard or most of the Ivy League. Furthermore, the percentage of a given group taking the SAT may change over time, and the larger the percentage taking that test, the more that total will include weaker students, thereby depressing the average score.
California’s list of NMS semifinalists from 2012 also followed a very similar ethnic pattern. This pattern extends to the aggregate of the twenty-five states whose lists are available, with Asians constituting 5 percent of the total population but almost 28 percent of semifinalists. For the Computing Olympiad, Asian winners averaged about 20 percent of the total during most of the 1990s and 2000s, but grew to 50 percent during 2009–2010 and a remarkable 75 percent during 2011–2012. Some 61 percent of the Siemens AP Awards from 2002–2011 went to Asians, including thirteen of the fourteen top national prizes.
This has sparked a massive Asian-American arms-race in academic performance at high schools throughout the country, as seen above in the skyrocketing math and science competition results.
To be sure, the broad racial category “Asian” hides enormous internal complexity—with Chinese, Koreans, and South Asians being far more successful than Filipinos, Vietnamese, or Cambodians—but that is just as true of the equally broad “white” or “Hispanic” labels, which also conceal much more than they reveal. And it is perfectly possible that ideological considerations of diversity and equity might make administrators reluctant to allow any particular group to become too heavily over-represented relative to its share of the general population. However, solid statistical data regarding this elite WASP subpopulation is almost non-existent, and anyway the boundaries of the category are quite imprecise and fluid across generations. Nevertheless, total Jewish enrollment at elite universities has held constant or actually increased, indicating a large rise in relative Jewish admissions. But even here, New York’s smaller and much less affluent Asian population is far better represented, providing around 34 percent of the top scoring students.
Among our largest states, only in Texas is the Asian performance as low as 120 percent, although Jews are the group that actually does much better in several smaller states, usually those in which the Jewish population is tiny. Californiaa€™s list of NMS semifinalists from 2012 also followed a very similar ethnic pattern. For the Computing Olympiad, Asian winners averaged about 20 percent of the total during most of the 1990s and 2000s, but grew to 50 percent during 2009a€“2010 and a remarkable 75 percent during 2011a€“2012. Thus, the huge Harvard cheating scandal, and perhaps also the endless series of financial, business, and political scandals which have rocked our country over the last decade or more, even while our national economy has stagnated.
This perhaps explains why so many sons and daughters of top Chinese leaders attend college in the West: enrolling them at a third-rate Chinese university would be a tremendous humiliation, while our own corrupt admissions practices get them an easy spot at Harvard or Stanford, sitting side by side with the children of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and George W. During the mid- to late-1980s, there had been some public controversy in the media regarding allegations of anti-Asian discrimination in the Ivy League, and the Federal Government eventually even opened an investigation into the matter.22 But once that investigation was closed in 1991, Asian enrollments across all those universities rapidly converged to the same level of approximately 16 percent, and remained roughly static thereafter (See chart below). Obviously, such an analysis based on last names is hardly precise, but it is probably correct to within a few percent, which is sufficient for our crude analytical purposes. Extrapolating these state results to the national total, we would expect 25–30 percent of America’s highest scoring high school seniors to be of Asian origin.32 This figure is far above the current Asian enrollment at Harvard or the rest of the Ivy League.
When a far greater volume of applicants is squeezed into a pipeline of fixed size, the pressure can grow enormously. During the mid- to late-1980s, there had been some public controversy in the media regarding allegations of anti-Asian discrimination in the Ivy League, and the Federal Government eventually even opened an investigation into the matter.[22] But once that investigation was closed in 1991, Asian enrollments across all those universities rapidly converged to the same level of approximately 16 percent, and remained roughly static thereafter (See chart below). Extrapolating these state results to the national total, we would expect 25a€“30 percent of Americaa€™s highest scoring high school seniors to be of Asian origin.[32] This figure is far above the current Asian enrollment at Harvard or the rest of the Ivy League.
In fact, the yearly fluctuations in Asian enrollments are often smaller than were the changes in Jewish numbers during the “quota era” of the past,23 and are roughly the same relative size as the fluctuations in black enrollments, even though the latter are heavily influenced by the publicly declared “ethnic diversity goals” of those same institutions. In fact, the yearly fluctuations in Asian enrollments are often smaller than were the changes in Jewish numbers during the a€?quota eraa€? of the past,[23] and are roughly the same relative size as the fluctuations in black enrollments, even though the latter are heavily influenced by the publicly declared a€?ethnic diversity goalsa€? of those same institutions.



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