Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Race & Class in Elite Colleges

No Longer Separate Inside Higher Ed, The Power of Race, by Scott Jaschik:

Is the glass half empty or half full?

Thomas J. Espendshade, a professor of sociology at Princeton University, used that question to answer a question about his new book, No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life (Princeton University Press), co-written with Alexandria Walton Radford, a research associate at MPR Associates. In fact, he could probably use the glass image to answer questions about numerous parts of the book.

While Espenshade and Radford -- in the book and in interviews -- avoid broad conclusions over whether affirmative action is working or should continue, their findings almost certainly will be used both by supporters and critics of affirmative action to advance their arguments. ...

Unlike much writing about affirmative action, this book is based not on philosophy, but actual data -- both on academic credentials and student experiences -- from 9,000 students who attended one of 10 highly selective colleges and universities. (They are not named, but include public and private institutions, research universities and liberal arts colleges.)

Advantages by Race and Class on the SAT and ACT at Selective Colleges, Fall 1997

Group Public (ACT 36 scale) Private (SAT 1600 scale)
--White -- --
--Black +3.8 +310
--Hispanic +0.3 +130
--Asian -3.4 -140
--Lower -0.1 +130
--Working +0.0 +70
--Middle -- --
--Upper-Middle +0.3 +50
--Upper +0.4 -30

Class Rank by Race and Economic Class

Group Quintile 1 Quintile 2 Quintile 3 Quintile 4 Quintile 5
--White 25.5% 20.8% 20.6% 17.3% 15.8%
--Black 4.8% 8.2% 13.6% 23.0% 50.5%
--Hispanic 9.3% 13.1% 17.1% 27.7% 32.8%
--Asian 20.2% 20.7% 21.9% 20.4% 16.9%
Economic class          
--Lower & working 13.0% 10.9% 19.9% 20.1% 36.1%
--Middle 20.3% 18.6% 19.2% 20.7% 21.1%
--Upper & upper middle 25.7% 21.6% 20.8% 16.9% 15.0%

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No Sol, asians did not come here as slaves. They came initially to work the gold fields then were actively recruited by the railroads as laborers. Certainly there was massive discrimination but Asians were not brought here a slaves.

Posted by: pacific_waters | Nov 5, 2009 3:50:15 AM

What dastardly act of history are Asians guilty of to warrant being penalized by affirmative action?
I don't recall slave ships sailing to China ...

Posted by: Laika's Last Woof | Nov 4, 2009 7:53:24 PM

I wouldn't infer too much on the Asian vs. White class rankings...unless there is also additional information on majors. My observation is that more Asians are in technical and difficult majors which are not helpful to class rank.

Posted by: Cam | Nov 4, 2009 7:35:14 PM

BasicallyBlue, if you think that the relative SATs of all these ethnicities has magically changed over the past decade, I'll smoke what you've been smoking.

As for "upper middle class": That would be the Stuff White People Like crowd. Those would be the people who are related to other professors, administrators, and "moderate" politicians; and/or, have been working in non-profits during high school and were involved in the student newspapers. We're not talking about the children of sales managers or members of ROTC here.

Posted by: Zimriel | Nov 4, 2009 3:49:47 PM

These data are apparently from 1997, twelve years ago. Why would any serious researcher be considering them significant as a measure of today's culture?

Posted by: BasicallyBlue | Nov 4, 2009 2:32:11 PM

Asians were not slaves of the railroads. Asians came for the cash -- a lot more than was available to the (largely) Cantonese population at the time.

Whether they were treated well is another matter and, candidly, not one that is really susceptible to the sort of "gloss over" thinking that is so often used. In the end, the Chinese and Japanese communities have greatly prospered while other communities have had more mixed results.

Posted by: wjr | Nov 4, 2009 12:44:50 PM

The advantage to upper middle class as opposed to middle could have a couple of factors. My first impression is that this is a group that can more likely pay close to full price of tuition, would get less financial aid and thus help fund everyone else.

Also, it may be due to the combination of other factors. Since Blacks and Hispanics go to college in much less numbers (by percentage of overall group) then Upper Middle Income Blacks and Hispanics almost get to pick their school and may be benefiting from a sort of bidding battle to get higher income minorities in the elite schools. This could be skewing this number upward.

Posted by: ElamBend | Nov 4, 2009 12:34:49 PM

Whites outperform Asians in class rankings?

Posted by: habituality | Nov 4, 2009 12:14:17 PM

Stop working in the system, I suspect. People of merit are generally that because they also have driven, obsessive, enrgetic personalities. They may opt out of the system, they may opt out of the economy, but I suspect it is not in their nature to opt out of life. That it would be better for society if they were working within a flexible, reasonable system is true, though.

Posted by: Ginny | Nov 4, 2009 11:52:51 AM

If you define affirmative action as a way to use a quality other than merit to select a person for a position or educational opportunity, race and means based testing are merely the second act. The first affirmative action that ever existed went and still goes to legatees, the wealthy and politically connected who use their influence to gain access for their relatives who do not merit the position. Present day affirmative action provides a similar benefit to different classes (from the above data the lower class, black and hispanics). I will not render judgement about the value of straying from merit, other than to say that when people of merit are denied what they have earned, they will stop working.

Posted by: Concerned Citizen | Nov 4, 2009 10:51:25 AM

Is a breakdown by race and class available? Example: % of Hispanics in Quintile 3 who were of upper and upper middle income.

Does the study also compare scores to later achievement and/or completion of degree requirements?

Posted by: Gringo | Nov 4, 2009 10:43:19 AM

A couple oddities: (1) Why is there a +50 advantage to being upper middle class (relative to middle)? (2) Asians underperform on class rank (relative to whites) despite coming in with higher SATs.

Posted by: Anon | Nov 4, 2009 10:35:39 AM

asians really get a raw deal. Did you know they came to America as slaves to build the railroads?

Posted by: sol vason | Nov 4, 2009 10:35:27 AM