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Key Findings From Three Recent Studies on Race and Admissions

Key Findings From Three Recent Studies on Race and Admissions

* From “Closing the Gap?: Texas College Enrollments Before and After Affirmative Action”

Rates of admission for minority applicants at Texas’ flagship institutions fell sharply after the ban on affirmative action. For African Americans applying to Texas A&M University, the probability of admission fell from 74.9 percent pre-Hopwood to 57.7 percent after Hopwood, while the admission probability for Hispanic applicants dropped from 79.9 percent to 68.3 percent. At UT-Austin, admission probability fell from 71.3 percent to 69.3 percent for African American applicants and from 77.7 percent to 76.3 percent for Hispanics. In the same period, the probability of admission for White students rose from 73.7 percent to 74.3 percent at Texas A&M and from 73.6 percent to 80.6 percent at UT-Austin.

Due to the lower probability of admission for minority candidates and fewer minority applicants since the ruling, the numbers of enrolled minority students fell. Prior to Hopwood, African Americans represented 3.7 percent of Texas A&M enrollees, but only 2.4 percent after the ruling. For Hispanics, the corresponding drop was from 12.6 percent to 9.2 percent. Similar declines were witnessed at UT-Austin, where African American enrollees dropped from 4 percent to 3.3 percent and the Hispanic share fell from 15.8 percent to 13.7 percent.

In contrast, African Americans and Hispanics together represented more than half of Texas’ college-age population in 2000, at 12.3 percent and 40 percent, respectively. White students represented 43.5 percent of the college-age population and Asian Americans accounted for 2.9 percent.

The decline in minority admissions was less drastic at UT-Austin due to an aggressive outreach plan, the UT Longhorn Scholars program, which recruited students from high schools with relatively large economically disadvantaged and minority student bodies. Texas A&M recently implemented the Century Scholars program, modeled after the Longhorn Scholars, hoping to restore its campus diversity to pre-Hopwood levels. (See for more details.)

* From “Appearance and Reality in the Sunshine State: The Talented 20 Program
in Florida”

The Talented 20 plan has led to the admission of very few students to the state university system who would not have been admitted under pre-existing, non-race-conscious rules.

The Talented 20 plan provided no guarantee of admission to the two most highly selective campuses in the system, the University of Florida (UF) and Florida State University (FSU).

Only an insignificant number of “newly eligible” minority students achieved access to the system.

The Talented 20 includes far more White and Asian students than Blacks and Hispanics, the two groups most underrepresented at UF and FSU.

The minimal success of the plan relies on race-attentive recruitment, retention and financial aid policies. (See for more details.)

n From “Percent Plans in College Admissions: A Comparative Analysis of
Three States’ Experiences”

There is insufficient evidence to suggest that percentage plans, even with other race-conscious processes, are effective alternatives to using race/ethnicity as a factor in admissions processes.

Percentage plans only set basic requirements for who can automatically be admitted to a campus or to a system so the implementation of the plan at individual institutions varies dramatically. Therefore, there is no standard model to which to compare how well these plans work or whether they could be replicated.

Percentage plans do not address admissions to private colleges or to graduate or professional programs. They also do not apply to out-of-state students.

The University of Texas at Austin (UT) consciously supplements the 10 percent plan with outreach and scholarship programs. Targeting a specific set of traditionally underrepresented high schools in communities where large shares of Blacks and Hispanics live results in these efforts being functionally race-attentive.

At Texas A&M, the 10 percent plan has not led to diversity at nearly the levels achieved through the use of affirmative action. Therefore, the 10 percent plan cannot be held out as a model of success.

The Texas 10 percent plan guarantees students admission to their campus of choice while the Florida and California percent plans guarantee admission only to the main state university system.

The higher education systems in California, Florida and Texas vary widely in quality and standing. Both UCLA and Berkeley rank among the top institutions in the country, while neither of the Florida schools is nationally ranked. Of the two flagship universities in Texas, only UT-Austin is loosely comparable to the California flagships in terms of reputation. Even then, UT admits higher shares of applicants than either UCLA or Berkeley, the two schools that are most relevant to the possibilities on nationally competitive campuses. (See for more details.)

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