Simple Answers to Provocative Questions

Priceonomics asks, “Do Elite Colleges Discriminate Against Asians?

Answer: Yes.

One thing that eludes many who grapple with this issue is the question of whether a holistic definition of merit (ie, not just judging students on grades and test scores, but by making a subjective judgment of their value based on everything you know about them) is an essential way for elite colleges to bring a richly textured community of students which is inherently more educational, or a way to discriminate against the undesireables du jour.

The answer:  It’s both.

There genuinely are people who patently deserve a spot at prestigious universities despite unexceptional test scores and grades, who would be kept out if the schools focused monomanically on rigorous measures of academic merits.  And there genuinely are patently deserving Asians whom holistic measures of merits are being used as an excuse to dismiss.

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