If colleges admitted solely on grades and SAT scores, would there be fewer winning teams and males?

In theory, everyone wants colleges to admit students based solely on academic excellence. In reality, few of us would want to attend colleges that did so.

While the Supreme Court focus is on racial preferences in college admissions, there are forms of preference, including athletes and males.

While the Supreme Court focus is on racial preferences in college admissions, there are forms of preferential treatment, including athletes and males.

If colleges relied only on test scores, AP enrollment, class ranking and grade point averages, there would be fewer males along with fewer African-American students. Campuses would be more monochromatic and female.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced last week it will revisit the use of racial preferences, leading to declarations that college acceptances should be blind to any factors outside student performance. (We discussed the news here.)

However, colleges do weigh other factors beyond academics to ensure their campuses have a rich mix of personalities, talents and interests. If colleges did not consider what else students bring to the table besides grades and SAT scores, there may not be baritones for the chorus, baton twirlers for the marching band or running backs for the football team.

It’s long been known and accepted that colleges give top athletes preferential treatment in admissions. The ability to run the mile, dunk a basketball or land a back flip can outweigh a mediocre GPA at many colleges. No one seems to object or a to the Supreme Court.

As the AJC reported in a special investigation last year, the 2014 freshman class at Georgia Tech had an average SAT score of 1445. However, for incoming football players, the average SAT was 420 points below the class as a whole. Gaps were also found among athletes at the University of Georgia, Georgia State and Georgia Southern. The AJC reported that in some years, as many as 100 percent of football players have SAT scores in the bottom quarter of their freshman class at Tech. At the University of Georgia, the AJC found about eight of 10 football players were in the bottom quarter.

If young women take nine AP courses, earn all A’s and graduate with honors, don’t they deserve to beat out less-qualified males, even if campuses experience gender imbalance?

Here’s the problem. When campuses become overwhelmingly female, neither young women nor young men want to go there.

In an infamous apology essay to all the qualified young women turned down in favor of less qualified males, the admissions dean at Kenyon College explained, “Beyond the availability of dance partners for the winter formal, gender balance matters in ways both large and small on a residential college campus. Once you become decidedly female in enrollment, fewer males and, as it turns out, fewer females find your campus attractive.”

While the debate has focused on raceconscious university admissions, it could eventually expand to gender preferences, since trend lines show women continuing to outpace men in college attendance. In 1994, 63 percent of female high school graduates and 61 percent of male graduates were enrolled in college in the fall following graduation.

By 2012, the percentage of young women enrolled in college right after high school rose to 71 percent. The rate for males did not change.

At the University of Texas — the subject of the Supreme Court review — 75 percent of students win admission by virtue of being in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class, a policy designed to enroll more minorities and small-town Texans. Those automatic admits are disproportionately women.

Of interest to the high court is how UT Austin selects the remaining 25 percent of its students. A vetting process considers an applicant’s culture; language; family; educational, geographic and socioeconomic background; work, volunteer or internship experiences; and artistic or other talents, as well as race and ethnicity.

It’s the inclusion of race on the list that riles people and provokes legal challenges. I wonder if the outcry will be as loud if the list of preferences someday includes gender.

Reader Comments 0

108 comments
TaxiSmith
TaxiSmith

Sounds like pure sexism to me. Shame!!

RobertnAtlanta
RobertnAtlanta

The big problem here is that people think that college sports are important.

I would LOVE to see organized sports go away.

Leave the money for the academically inclined.

I personally did not choose to attend Ga Tech because of the football team but because of the chemical engineering program.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@RobertnAtlanta "Leave the money for the academically inclined."

No academic money went to pay for sports.  Even at Georgia State it is paid for as a separate fee.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Church73 @class80olddog Yes, it is a MANDATORY fee, but they are not taking, for example, State money to pay for sports (I don't think). And see my post below about mandatory fees.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@RobertnAtlanta 

Those college sports such as football and basketball bring in a great deal of money to the university, which the university is quite happy to get.

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

@RobertnAtlanta That is absolutely flawed logic, @RobertnAtlanta .    Yours truly had the athletic ability to play Division I sports AND had the academic record to be qualified to attend an Ivy League institution.   There are some schools where the student athletes are exactly that.     What needs to happen is that sports like football and basketball should have created development leagues MANY years ago, so that these athletes had the same options as baseball players did.   Get your high school degree and then either go into the minors or play 3 years in college before you're eligible.    Instead, we've created this "one and done" mentality in basketball and then in football, diluted the academic pool as well as flooded the police blotter.

Church73
Church73

@class80olddog "Seperate Fee" really? The fee is paid for by all students not just the sports fans. 

straker
straker

"few of us would want to attend colleges that did so"


And that is why a real college education is getting harder and harder to get these days.


Colleges are admitting large numbers of students who are NOT college material and grade inflating to see that at least some of them graduate.


Business knows this and hires only those who show real merit and aptitude.


Its no wonder so many "graduates" can't find work.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@straker Work that used to take a HS diploma now often requires a 4-year degree.  Previous jobs that required a Bachelor's degree now require a Master's.  Grade inflation and no commitment to standards.

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

My feeling is that this is a FAR more complicated issue than what this post can offer.   I think it needs further exploration to be dealt with properly.  You are diving into some very complex and sensitive issues.   Should elite Division I athletic programs continue to significantly lower the bar for their scholarship athletes?   Is the business of college sports more important than academics?   Is it scholar athlete or athlete scholar?   Whether we agree or not, the money generated by college sports pretty much pays for everything else at a major university. And then there's Title iX issues and many others.


Separate from those points, I don't believe you can ever turn a college admissions process into strictly numbers.    Numbers don't tell you about leadership.   Numbers don't tell you about how you've overcome obstacles:    personal, economic, etc.   Numbers don't tell you how a student can add value on campus and enrich it.   We can not and should not ever turn a decision like this into strictly numbers.   Most employers don't hire based on strictly numbers, and neither should colleges.


Now race is another more sensitive matter.      I would like to see a post written by a lawyer who specializes in race issues and discrimination matters.  For years, we tried to integrate schools and walked a fine line in this area.  I recall some precedent decisions maybe at University of Michigan in this area, but I forget the specifics.   I do think we need to be very careful that we don't make any decisions based SOLELY on race, and that is difficult to prove.   We need diversity, and I believe that private universities likely get a lot more wiggle room here than state funded public universities.    


Maureen, how about we do a primer on the history of race in college admission decisions?   There's a lot more to this issue that hasn't been given a full discourse.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@living-in-outdated-ed I think it goes even more basic that what you say.  At heart is the question: What is the purpose of the University?  I think that many of the more "L" persuasion (hate to use the term) would say the purpose of the University is to improve Society.  On the other hand, some of us would say the purpose is to graduate the "best and the brightest" among us.  Some would say a college diploma should be a symbol of a "life-enriching experience" while others view it as a symbol that certain minimum standards of education have been achieved in a field. Look at the controversy surrounding viewing a college degree as "job training".

bu2
bu2

@living-in-outdated-ed 


There are only about 20 schools where athletics gives money back to the university.  The rest lose money or support it with student fees.


Now most univerisities believe it indirectly is a benefit.  They've got some pretty good anecdotal stories among smaller private schools.  Big universities get big donations connecting with wealthy alumni at sporting events.

SouthGA
SouthGA

Her comments on diversity are the definition progressive liberalism/socialism. The best colleges/universities back in the day were all white and privileged and they build this country. That system was not broken so it does not need to be fixed. Along came WWII and many, many thousand of GI's went to college grew this great country to be able to put men on the moon. They did not take courses in black this, women that or underwater basket weaving. The professors did not spout their political ideology at their students. Then the sixties came along and education went down hill enough said.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@SouthGA That was when the "hippies" came along  (sorry - just a jab at the hippy comments lately).

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@class80olddog @SouthGA 

So just how do you propose a university spread around the cost of these non-academic services to its students? Without absorbing the costs itself, that is.


Student Health Center: that is a public health need. Are you really proposing that the school send all of its suddenly sick students to the local hospital's Emergency Room, already filled up with uninsured patients? Gym membership fee: just how does that differ from a student athletic fee? And as for the "Taj Mahal buildings," for our public USG schools, that is a separate allocation by the Regents and sometimes supplemented by the University Foundations. It's not part of the student fees.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@class80olddog @OriginalProf @SouthGA 

There already are available discounted Marta passes for students and faculty.

Again, having a student Health Center is a public health measure, for the good of all. 


I don't know about UGA, but I do know that the process is for USG schools to request from the Regents funds allocated for the remodeling and construction of buildings. Sometimes schools use funds from their own private Foundations (donated by alumni, and so on).  "Academics" can't just be conducted on the lawn, like Plato's Academy.


class80olddog
class80olddog

@SouthGA Ths is a comment on the last blog which addresses what you say about "socialism":

The problem is they want to run it like MARTA - everyone pays for the services used by a few.  Rather than require those who ride the bus to pay, they charge everyone a "transportation fee.  They charge you for the football program whether you want it or not.  They require you to pay for the student medical center even though you have insurance and can go to the local Urgent Care.  Gym the same way - if you want to use it, join a membership.  Don't build a Taj Majal student center when only a few students actually study there.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@OriginalProf @class80olddog @SouthGA For example - the bus system - have students that use the bus buy bus passes that they can use on the buses. 

The Student Health Center - why can it not take and file insurance claims just like a regular urgent care - sort of the College Urgent Care.  Why not even privatize it?  Why have all students "double pay" for the medical coverage.

I already answered about the gyms.

So you are telling me that the Taj Majal Student Center at UGA was financed without using one cent of either student tuition or fees, or State money (that could have gone to academics)?  I have a hard time swallowing that one.  So exactly where did that money come from?

WWTJD
WWTJD

College should be about learning how to solve problems not invented yet -- not about preparing individuals to play professional ball.   Intramural programs would save millions compared to cost of complying with title IX requirements to participate in NCAA.

class80olddog
class80olddog

The AVERAGE SAT score for entrants into Fort Valley State University is 844.  Really?  What should a minimum high school graduate score on the SAT?  And that is the AVERAGE - what is the LOWEST SAT score accepted?  AND they have a 34% six-year graduation rate! At what point do you ask - do these people really need to be in college? Certainly if it were THEIR own money, I would not have a problem with it - but our State tax dollars are going to support them in college.  However, I did hear that they are looking more closely at graduation rats and adjusting the state funding accordingly. 

ATLPeach
ATLPeach

@class80olddog  I am black and had a low SAT score. I believe it was around 850. Fortunately for me, I had a great talent, the ability to sing well. It paid my way through college on a music scholarship. I graduated with a 3.5 GPA, easily passed the teacher certification test for music teachers, and went on to receive a masters degree.I loved studying music and had been doing so my entire life. It was a no brainer for me to major in music. I have cousins that had much higher scores, one made a 1450. Two went on to Ivy League schools. We all finished school and surprisingly, even the engineer quit to become a teacher. She said it was a calling. None of us qualified for Pell grants, we used scholarship money and loans. I am glad there are schools like Fort Vallley State out there. Not everyone is going to score high on the SAT. I have a colleague that told me the HBCU he went to saved him. He got in with a low GPA. Despite what he did in high school, he not only finished college, but graduated in the top 10% of his class. His professors cared. He grew up in "the hood". His mother encouraged him to apply for college despite what he did in high school. The rest is history. He made it. There are many others out there with similar stories. I believe in giving chances. That's why junior colleges are so important. Having a high SAT score and GPA doesn't determine success. There's much more to it. How do you measure desire and determination?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@ATLPeach @class80olddog Perhaps there should be specialty "music schools" where that talent is catered to and English/Math is simply a byproduct.

And I hope you are a music teacher and enjoy it.

How would you have felt if you were turned down at your HBCU because they were required to admit the top 10% class of mostly rural white schools?

ATLPeach
ATLPeach

@class80olddog @ATLPeach  Your assumption is incorrect, I went to West Ga. It's a state school. There are many music schools, however my parents couldn't afford them. I don't know of any school that requires admittance to the top 10% of any race of people. Not even HBCU's practice that.

class80olddog
class80olddog

I think they are discriminating against women and disabled persons on the UGA football team.  Need to improve the DIVERSITY there!

daytona
daytona

What about legacies and the children of big donors?

RealLurker
RealLurker

Are there Constitutional protections against discrimination based on nepotism or level of donation?  Which section of the Constitution grants those protections?

Susan McGuire
Susan McGuire

@daytona
Many of us would love to see those legacy/wealth preferences eliminated as well, daytona.  If George Bush or Ted Kennedy couldn't earn admission...with all the advantages they had...in open competition with all other applicants, then they'll just have to go to the local community college instead of Yale or Harvard.

But there are a couple of things about legacy and wealth preferences that make them...as abhorrent as they are...a little different than Affirmative Action:
1.  Legacy and wealth preferences are available to students of all races, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, etc.  And students of all races (etc.) have been admitted via those legacy/wealth preferences.

2.  While I personally do not think that those kinds of preferences should be given, the fact is that discrimination based on legacy or wealth is not against federal law, unlike discrimination based on the other factors.
 

Many supporters of affirmative action bring up the legacy preferences as another kind of "unfair" admissions policy, and they're right.  It would be nice to see them eliminated.  But just because you can't eliminate EVERY single unfair admissions practice at once, does not mean that we shouldn't eliminate the ones we CAN when we have a chance. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@daytona  I don't know about big donors, but I can tell you that legacies don't get squat.  My daughter, who was an honors student and a legacy, STILL got wait-listed.  Of course, she was white and female.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Susan McGuire @daytona As to your number one: Many of the legacies GOT their legacy status because their parents/grandparents were admitted over other candidates by virtue of their race or national origin.  If color-blind admission had been practiced back then, the legacies' family member might not have been selected.  Sort of "fruit of the poison tree" effect.

RealLurker
RealLurker

@Susan McGuire


Even IF there were governmental protections against discrimination in favor of graduates children, Havard and Yale are private institutions.  It would be EXTREMELY difficult to get the government to enforce such restrictions against private organizations.

Smilesterr
Smilesterr

@class80olddog @daytona What stopped you from claiming minority status of her application?  Surely there is some American Indian somewhere in your family tree?

RealLurker
RealLurker

"It’s the inclusion of race on the list that riles people and provokes legal challenges. I wonder if the outcry will be as loud if the list of preferences someday includes gender"


There is no constitutional protection against being discriminated against because of: Athletic ability, academic ability, quality of essay writing, nepotism, record of volunteering, artistic ability, socioeconomic background, etc.   There are constitutional protections against discrimination based on race or gender.  That is why race is the item that is being challenged.  I don't know how the court will decide, I am only pointing out that people are challenging on race because it is a constitutional protection.  If there were constitutional protection against discrimination based on athletic ability, people would challenge on that also.

RealLurker
RealLurker

@OriginalProf


Gender is a Constitutionally protected class.  If excluded female students can prove that they were excluded because of their gender, they could take it to court.


Maureen has made arguments before that if athletic ability or family donations are considered in the selection process, then race should not be excluded.  The point I was trying to make is that, fair or unfair, there are some classes that have Constitutional protections, and some that do not.  If a school has practices that are unfair, then people can: protest, write columns, economically pressure the school, etc.  However, people cannot use the courts to end the unfair practices.  If a school uses unlawful practices, then people can use the courts to end such practices.


OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@RealLurker 

But Maureen's point is that gender is also constitutionally protected, and there is quite a lot of evidence that public and private colleges discriminate against women in their admissions. This has been widely known in educational circles for some time.

popacorn
popacorn

Colleges will take the best and brightest athletically, but not academically. Basketball sure looks discriminatory to me. 

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

BTW, there are ways for colleges to "compensate" if the male/female ratio gets out of whack (assuming that is a legitimate goal).  


Certain degree programs, such as Early Childhood Education, are predominately female.  Other programs (Engineering, perhaps?) tend to be predominately male.  Want more males on campus?  Expand those programs that are predominately male.



Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Lee_CPA2


But if all colleges start doing that, then you flood the market with say... engineers...resulting in too many graduates in one field and thus fewer available openings.  This is one reason there are "controls" in place on the number of programs nationwide in some career fields. 

anothercomment
anothercomment

very few people have the ability and the perseverance to become an engineer. If you do not Love it or are naturally drawn to the specific discipline you are in you will not be successful and fail. It is a subject matter that is mind numbing and boring if you don't have the passion for it.

I am an engineer. A female engineer. I have supervised multiple engineering disciplines and they all have their own unique personalities.

I have tried to caution parents over and over again to not force their children into Engineering or STEM fields because they think it would be a good stable career for their children. That will backfire big time. I have seen plent of top A students flunk out of engineering school. I have seen some quit after a year or two in the field. Sadly, I even saw an engineer who was recruited with me from college commit suicide within two years of graduation and starting a career in the field. ( same college, major and employer as I).

Even though I see that at least one of my children has the God given talents and aptitude to be an Engineer, I do not push it. She is at the stage why would I want to do what mom does. I see her tinkering with things taking them apart. Even tried to reset the AC Unti and reprogram the controls last week, when it didn't reset, after a power outage.

Susan McGuire
Susan McGuire

Maureen, if all colleges admitted solely on grades and SAT scores, how could there be FEWER winning teams?  The colleges would play the same number of games each season...no matter what sport...and one team would win, one team would lose...just like now.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Susan McGuire Only if all did so. That is not in the cards. And, if it ever was, some campuses would quickly find a way around it. So, the school faithful to the policy would have fewer winning seasons.

Astropig
Astropig

@MaureenDowney @Susan McGuire


Must disagree. Maybe in football,but football is just one of many athletic seasons at major universities.  Vanderbilt University won the NCAA baseball championship in '14 and played for it and lost this year. Safe to say that Vandy has academic credentials second to none. Duke is nobody's idea of an easy school and they win basketball championships like clockwork, including back in April. I'd say the folks at VU and Duke would welcome an SAT based admission standard. It would make them superpowers in certain sports.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@MaureenDowney

Way to rationalize fraud, Maureen.  The old "everybody else is doing it" spiel.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Astropig @MaureenDowney @Susan McGuire But check out the academic qualifications of the team members.  Are they the SAME as the rest of the student body?  Even at Vandy and Duke, while their athletes look stellar compared to most others, they are still generally not of the same caliber.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

"If colleges relied only on test scores, AP enrollment, class ranking and grade point averages, there would be fewer males along with fewer African-American students."

Oh hell, let's just cut to the chase.  Just why is that, Maureen?  Why do blacks come up short in EVERY academic comparison?  Why haven't blacks closed the "achievement gap" after sixty years of school integration and sitting in the same classroom, using the same textbooks, and having the same teachers as their white classmates?

And no, it doesn't have to do with socioeconomics, or the free lunch program, or any of the other excuses trotted out by the politically correct, whose ideology will not permit them to speak of the inconvenient truth - that is, there is a racial IQ hierarchy which has been measurable and consistent since the beginning of IQ testing.  Coincidentally, we are approaching 100 years of IQ testing.

College football and men's basketball programs have made a mockery of college admissions.  When head football coaches make tens of millions of dollars and their assistant coaches make high six figure salaries, they will find a way to get the athlete into the college - academics be damned.  It is safe to say that most of the players on any given division 1A football program shouldn't be allowed on campus without a mop and broom in hand.

popacorn
popacorn

@Lee_CPA2

Our moderator and her followers have no problem admitting inherent physical excellence in black athletes, but find it impossible that there could be inherent cognitive differences. Is this what them mean by 'differentiation'. 

LaKeisha
LaKeisha

@popacorn @Lee_CPA2
Yet the ethnic group that has the highest level of academic achievement (for the last three years, at least) are African immigrants, who even beat out the Asians. And most African immigrants live in poverty and attend heavily-segregated schools. The only real assets they have going for them are a tremendous gratefulness to be in the U.S. (with all the opportunities that brings), and a cultural background that values education and hard work. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Lee_CPA2 "Why haven't blacks closed the "achievement gap" after sixty years of school integration and sitting in the same classroom, using the same textbooks, and having the same teachers as their white classmates?"

Because of their ATTITUDE, not their IQ!  Blacks fought for years to get the opportunity to go to quality schools and they won that right - now they are squandering it with their anti-education attitude, their lack of family structure, and the quiet racism of low expectations - where their black administrators socially promote them rather than do the hard (but right) thing by putting them in remedial classes.