Opinion | Why the SAT May be the Best Option

There are a lot of variations between liberal arts schools in New England and the U.C.s. when it comes to measurement, admissions objectives, the college students they entice, and many others. But over the previous year, we’ve gotten a preview of what a post-standardized-test U.C. system would possibly appear to be, because of the faculties going test-optional on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it has proven that the classes of Bowdoin and Bates might need some relevance.

This previous January — to nice fanfare — the U.C. system introduced that it had obtained a report variety of functions from Latino and Black college students at their campuses, which in flip led to a report variety of underrepresented minority freshmen in the incoming class of 2021-22. “These remarkable numbers are a testament to the hard work and resiliency of students and their families across California,” Michael Drake, the president of the U.C. system, wrote in a press release. “I am particularly heartened by the social and economic diversity of those offered a place at U.C. Fall will be an exciting time on our campuses.”

At first look, these numbers do appear spectacular. According to preliminary findings launched by the U.C.s, the variety of Black freshmen admitted systemwide rose from 3,987 in 2020 to 4,608 in 2021. But these report numbers ought to be thought-about in the correct context: Applications, generally, hit record highs in 2021. The percentages of Black and Latino candidates stayed almost exactly the same. In 2019, Black college students made up 5 % of admitted college students at U.C.s. In 2020, they made up 5 %. In 2021 they as soon as once more made up 5 %. With Latino college students, the enhance was marginal — 34 % in 2019, 36 % in 2020 and 37 % in 2021. If dropping the SAT and ACT had any impact on earnings inequality, it didn’t present up this year. The proportion of California freshman candidates with low household earnings fell from 43.5 percent in 2020 to 41.5 percent in 2021.

The U.C.s did admit a report variety of college students for this year, however in addition they rejected extra college students than ever earlier than. At U.C.L.A., the admission rate went from 14.4 % to 10.8 %, which ought to be seen as an issue for a public college in the second-biggest metropolis in the nation however, after all, is just not. Instead of reflecting on what quantities to decreased alternatives for all college students in the state to attend U.C.L.A., the faculty declared victory. “I’m over the moon,” a U.C.L.A. official informed The Los Angeles Times, referring to the enhance in minority college students. “The years of hard work … bore fruit for us, and it’s a good feeling.”

But Black enrollment at U.C.L.A. went from 6 % in 2020 to only 7 % in 2021. Latino enrollment went from 23 % to 26 %. Asian American enrollment, for what it’s price, fell from 42 % to 39 %. At Berkeley, Black enrollment numbers fell barely, whereas white enrollment went up. Meanwhile, at U.C. Merced, considered one of the least selective U.C.s, Latino enrollment numbers fell from 54 % of the incoming freshman class to 50 %; so did the whole proportion of underrepresented minority college students coming into the freshman class.

It ought to shock no one that when selecting to spin this information, the U.C.s selected to speak about what occurred at U.C.L.A. and never at U.C. Merced which is, by far, the most various campus in the system. Why? According to The Upshot, the median annual household earnings of a pupil at Merced is $59,100. At UCLA? $104,900. Berkeley? $119,900. That’s the complete sport: The elite faculties with rich college students and alumni tout minuscule will increase in variety, whereas faculties with extra working-class college students like Merced, the place over 57 percent of students come from underrepresented minority groups, don’t matter.

At elite faculties, variety is for wealthy children. In his opinion in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the landmark Supreme Court case concerning affirmative motion in faculty admissions, Justice Lewis Powell wrote about one thing referred to as the Harvard plan, which got here to outline the advantages of variety. “A farm boy from Idaho can bring something to Harvard College that a Bostonian cannot offer. Similarly, a Black student can usually bring something that a white person cannot offer.” Powell’s logic is why Merced’s falling variety rate doesn’t get mentioned and why we by no means hear about the underrepresented minority populations at massive state faculties that admit most of their candidates. First and most essential, these faculties don’t have issues with variety. Second, in the event you take Powell’s logic to its pure conclusion, the “farm boy from Idaho” or “Black student” is on campus to broaden the perspective of the Boston Brahmin and, maybe, educate him a number of classes about tolerance. Maybe it is a cynical learn, however it’s pushed by an much more cynical mind-set that reduces younger individuals into information factors and waxes philosophical about what their backgrounds would possibly add to a campus.

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