Monday, February 11, 2013

Documented discrimination by Harvard liberals!

The people that just love to catch everyone else have been caught themselves. Read about one of the things that is off about America.

DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2
Just before the Labor Day weekend, a front page New York Times

story broke the news of the largest

cheating scandal in Harvard University history,

in which nearly half the students taking a

Government course on the role of Congress had plagiarized

or otherwise illegally collaborated on their

final exam.

1 Each year, Harvard admits just 1600

freshmen while almost 125 Harvard students now

face possible suspension over this single incident. A

Harvard dean described the situation as “unprecedented.”

But should we really be so surprised at this behavior

among the students at America’s most prestigious academic

institution? In the last generation or two, the

funnel of opportunity in American society has drastically

narrowed, with a greater and greater proportion

of our financial, media, business, and political elites

being drawn from a relatively small number of our

leading universities, together with their professional

schools. The rise of a Henry Ford, from farm boy

mechanic to world business tycoon, seems virtually

impossible today, as even America’s most successful

college dropouts such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg

often turn out to be extremely well-connected

former Harvard students. Indeed, the early success of

Facebook was largely due to the powerful imprimatur

it enjoyed from its exclusive availability first only at

Harvard and later restricted to just the Ivy League.

During this period, we have witnessed a huge national

decline in well-paid middle class jobs in the

manufacturing sector and other sources of employment

for those lacking college degrees, with median

American wages having been stagnant or declining

for the last forty years. Meanwhile, there has been an

astonishing concentration of wealth at the top, with

America’s richest 1 percent now possessing nearly

as much net wealth as the bottom 95 percent.

2 This

situation, sometimes described as a “winner take all

society,” leaves families desperate to maximize the

chances that their children will reach the winners’ circle,

rather than risk failure and poverty or even merely

a spot in the rapidly deteriorating middle class. And

the best single means of becoming such an economic

winner is to gain admission to a top university, which

provides an easy ticket to the wealth of Wall Street or

similar venues, whose leading firms increasingly restrict

their hiring to graduates of the Ivy League or a

tiny handful of other top colleges.

3 On the other side,

finance remains the favored employment choice for

Harvard, Yale or Princeton students after the diplomas

are handed out.


The Battle for Elite College Admissions

As a direct consequence, the war over college admissions

has become astonishingly fierce, with many

middle- or upper-middle class families investing

quantities of time and money that would have seemed

unimaginable a generation or more ago, leading to an

all-against-all arms race that immiserates the student

and exhausts the parents. The absurd parental efforts

of an Amy Chua, as recounted in her 2010 bestseller

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

, were simply a

much more extreme version of widespread behavior

among her peer-group, which is why her story resonated

so deeply among our educated elites. Over the

last thirty years, America’s test-prep companies have


Ron Unz is publisher of

The American Conservative.

The Myth of

American Meritocracy

How corrupt are Ivy League admissions?


ron unz

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


grown from almost nothing into a $5 billion annual

industry, allowing the affluent to provide an admissions

edge to their less able children. Similarly, the

enormous annual tuition of $35,000 charged by elite

private schools such as Dalton or Exeter is less for a

superior high school education than for the hope of

a greatly increased chance to enter the Ivy League.


Many New York City parents even go to enormous

efforts to enroll their children in the best possible pre-

Kindergarten program, seeking early placement on

the educational conveyer belt which eventually leads

to Harvard.

6 Others cut corners in a more direct fashion,

as revealed in the huge SAT cheating rings recently

uncovered in affluent New York suburbs, in which

students were paid thousands of dollars to take SAT

exams for their wealthier but dimmer classmates.


But given such massive social and economic value

now concentrated in a Harvard or Yale degree, the

tiny handful of elite admissions gatekeepers enjoy

enormous, almost unprecedented power to shape the

leadership of our society by allocating their supply

of thick envelopes. Even billionaires, media barons,

and U.S. Senators may weigh their words and actions

more carefully as their children approach college age.

And if such power is used to select our future elites in

a corrupt manner, perhaps the inevitable result is the

selection of corrupt elites, with terrible consequences

for America. Thus, the huge Harvard cheating scandal,

and perhaps also the endless series of financial,

business, and political scandals which have rocked

our country over the last decade or more, even while

our national economy has stagnated.

Just a few years ago Pulitzer Prize-winning former

Wall Street Journal

reporter Daniel Golden published

The Price of Admission

, a devastating account of the

corrupt admissions practices at so many of our leading

universities, in which every sort of non-academic

or financial factor plays a role in privileging the privileged

and thereby squeezing out those high-ability,

hard-working students who lack any special hook. In

one particularly egregious case, a wealthy New Jersey

real estate developer, later sent to Federal prison

on political corruption charges, paid Harvard $2.5

million to help ensure admission of his completely

under-qualified son.

8 When we consider that Harvard’s

existing endowment was then at $15 billion

and earning almost $7 million each day in investment

earnings, we see that a culture of financial corruption

has developed an absurd illogic of its own, in which

senior Harvard administrators sell their university’s

honor for just a few hours worth of its regular annual

income, the equivalent of a Harvard instructor raising

a grade for a hundred dollars in cash.

An admissions system based on non-academic

factors often amounting to institutionalized venality

would seem strange or even unthinkable among the

top universities of most other advanced nations in

Europe or Asia, though such practices are widespread

in much of the corrupt Third World. The notion of a

wealthy family buying their son his entrance into the

Grandes Ecoles of France or the top Japanese universities

would be an absurdity, and the academic rectitude

of Europe’s Nordic or Germanic nations is even

more severe, with those far more egalitarian societies

anyway tending to deemphasize university rankings.

Or consider the case of China. There, legions of angry

microbloggers endlessly denounce the official corruption

and abuse which permeate so much of the economic

system. But we almost never hear accusations

of favoritism in university admissions, and this impression

of strict meritocracy determined by the results

of the national

Gaokao college entrance examination

has been confirmed to me by individuals familiar with

that country. Since all the world’s written exams may

ultimately derive from China’s old imperial examination

system, which was kept remarkably clean for 1300

years, such practices are hardly surprising.

9 Attending a

prestigious college is regarded by ordinary Chinese as

their children’s greatest hope of rapid upward mobility

and is therefore often a focus of enormous family effort;

China’s ruling elites may rightly fear that a policy

of admitting their own dim and lazy heirs to leading

schools ahead of the higher-scoring children of the

masses might ignite a widespread popular uprising.

This perhaps explains why so many sons and daughters

of top Chinese leaders attend college in the West:



Net Wealth,


Top 1%


Next 4%






DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


enrolling them at a third-rate Chinese university would

be a tremendous humiliation, while our own corrupt

admissions practices get them an easy spot at Harvard

or Stanford, sitting side by side with the children of Bill

Clinton, Al Gore, and George W. Bush.

Although the evidence of college admissions corruption

presented in Golden’s book is quite telling,

the focus is almost entirely on current practices, and

largely anecdotal rather than statistical. For a broader

historical perspective, we should consider

The Chosen

by Berkeley sociologist Jerome Karabel, an exhaustive

and award-winning 2005 narrative history of the last

century of admissions policy at Harvard, Yale, and

Princeton (I will henceforth sometimes abbreviate

these “top three” most elite schools as “HYP”).

Karabel’s massive documentation—over 700 pages

and 3000 endnotes—establishes the remarkable fact

that America’s uniquely complex and subjective system

of academic admissions actually arose as a means

of covert ethnic tribal warfare. During the 1920s, the

established Northeastern Anglo-Saxon elites who

then dominated the Ivy League wished to sharply curtail

the rapidly growing numbers of Jewish students,

but their initial attempts to impose simple numerical

quotas provoked enormous controversy and faculty


10 Therefore, the approach subsequently

taken by Harvard President A. Lawrence Lowell and

his peers was to transform the admissions process

from a simple objective test of academic merit into

a complex and holistic consideration of all aspects of

each individual applicant; the resulting opacity permitted

the admission or rejection of any given applicant,

allowing the ethnicity of the student body to be

shaped as desired. As a consequence, university leaders

could honestly deny the existence of any racial or

religious quotas, while still managing to reduce Jewish

enrollment to a much lower level, and thereafter

hold it almost constant during the decades which followed.


For example, the Jewish portion of Harvard’s

entering class dropped from nearly 30 percent in 1925

to 15 percent the following year and remained roughly

static until the period of the Second World War.


As Karabel repeatedly demonstrates, the major

changes in admissions policy which later followed were

usually determined by factors of raw political power

and the balance of contending forces rather than any

idealistic considerations. For example, in the aftermath

of World War II, Jewish organizations and their allies

mobilized their political and media resources to pressure

the universities into increasing their ethnic enrollment

by modifying the weight assigned to various

academic and non-academic factors, raising the importance

of the former over the latter. Then a decade or two

later, this exact process was repeated in the opposite direction,

as the early 1960s saw black activists and their

liberal political allies pressure universities to bring their

racial minority enrollments into closer alignment with

America’s national population by partially

shifting away from their recently enshrined

focus on purely academic considerations.

Indeed, Karabel notes that the most sudden

and extreme increase in minority enrollment

took place at Yale in the years 1968–69, and

was largely due to fears of race riots in heavily

black New Haven, which surrounded the



Philosophical consistency appears notably absent

in many of the prominent figures involved in these admissions

battles, with both liberals and conservatives

sometimes favoring academic merit and sometimes

non-academic factors, whichever would produce the

particular ethnic student mix they desired for personal

or ideological reasons. Different political blocs

waged long battles for control of particular universities,

and sudden large shifts in admissions rates occurred

as these groups gained or lost influence within

the university apparatus: Yale replaced its admissions

staff in 1965 and the following year Jewish numbers

nearly doubled.


At times, external judicial or political forces would

be summoned to override university admissions policy,

often succeeding in this aim. Karabel’s own ideological

leanings are hardly invisible, as he hails efforts by state

legislatures to force Ivy League schools to lift their



Jewish quotas, but seems to regard later legislative

attacks on “affirmative action” as unreasonable assaults

on academic freedom.

15 The massively footnoted text


The Chosen might lead one to paraphrase Clausewitz

and conclude that our elite college admissions policy

often consists of ethnic warfare waged by other means,

or even that it could be summarized as a simple Leninesque

question of “Who, Whom?”

Although nearly all of Karabel’s study is focused on

the earlier history of admissions policy at Harvard,

Yale, and Princeton, with the developments of the last

three decades being covered in just a few dozen pages,

he finds complete continuity down to the present day,

with the notorious opacity of the admissions pro-

America’s uniquely complex and subjective

system of academic admissions actually arose

as a means of covert ethnic tribal warfare.

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


cess still allowing most private universities to admit

whomever they want for whatever reasons they want,

even if the reasons and the admissions decisions may

eventually change over the years. Despite these plain

facts, Harvard and the other top Ivy League schools

today publicly deny any hint of discrimination along

racial or ethnic lines, except insofar as they acknowledge

providing an admissions boost to under-represented

racial minorities, such as blacks or Hispanics.

But given the enormous control these institutions exert

on our larger society, we should test these claims

against the evidence of the actual enrollment statistics.

Asian-Americans as the “New Jews”

The overwhelming focus of Karabel’s book is on

changes in Jewish undergraduate percentages at each

university, and this is probably less due to his own

ethnic heritage than because the data provides an extremely

simple means of charting the ebb and flow of

admissions policy: Jews were a high-performing group,

whose numbers could only be restricted by major deviations

from an objective meritocratic standard.

Obviously, anti-Jewish discrimination in admissions

no longer exists at any of these institutions, but

a roughly analogous situation may be found with

a group whom Golden and others have sometimes

labeled “The New Jews,” namely Asian-Americans.

Since their strong academic performance is coupled

with relatively little political power, they would be obvious

candidates for discrimination in the harsh realpolitik

of university admissions as documented by

Karabel, and indeed he briefly raises the possibility of

an anti-Asian admissions bias, before concluding that

the elite universities are apparently correct in denying

that it exists.


There certainly does seem considerable anecdotal

evidence that many Asians perceive their chances of

elite admission as being drastically reduced by their

racial origins.

17 For example, our national newspapers

have revealed that students of part-Asian background

have regularly attempted to conceal the non-white

side of their ancestry when applying to Harvard and

other elite universities out of concern it would greatly

reduce their chances of admission.

18 Indeed, widespread

perceptions of racial discrimination are almost

certainly the primary factor behind the huge growth

in the number of students refusing to reveal their racial

background at top universities, with the percentage

of Harvard students classified as “race unknown”

having risen from almost nothing to a regular 5–15

percent of all undergraduates over the last twenty

years, with similar levels reached at other elite schools.

Such fears that checking the “Asian” box on an admissions

application may lead to rejection are hardly

unreasonable, given that studies have documented

a large gap between the average test scores of whites

and Asians successfully admitted to elite universities.

Princeton sociologist Thomas J. Espenshade and his

colleagues have demonstrated that among undergraduates

at highly selective schools such as the Ivy

League, white students have mean scores 310 points

higher on the 1600 SAT scale than their black classmates,

but Asian students average 140 points above


19 The former gap is an automatic consequence

of officially acknowledged affirmative action policies,

while the latter appears somewhat mysterious.


hese broad statistical differences in the admission

requirements for Asians are given a human

face in Golden’s discussions of this subject, in which

he recounts numerous examples of Asian-American

students who overcame dire family poverty, immigrant

adversity, and other enormous personal hardships

to achieve stellar academic performance and

extracurricular triumphs, only to be rejected by all

their top university choices. His chapter is actually

entitled “The New Jews,” and he notes the considerable

irony that a university such as Vanderbilt will

announce a public goal of greatly increasing its Jewish

enrollment and nearly triple those numbers in

just four years, while showing very little interest in

admitting high-performing Asian students.


All these elite universities strongly deny the existence

of any sort of racial discrimination against

Asians in the admissions process, let alone an “Asian

quota,” with senior administrators instead claiming

that the potential of each student is individually

evaluated via a holistic process far superior to any

mechanical reliance on grades or test scores; but such

public postures are identical to those taken by their

academic predecessors in the 1920s and 1930s as documented

by Karabel. Fortunately, we can investigate

the plausibility of these claims by examining the decades

of officially reported enrollment data available

from the website of the National Center for Educational

Statistics (NCES).

The ethnic composition of Harvard undergraduates

certainly follows a highly intriguing pattern. Harvard

had always had a significant Asian-American enrollment,

generally running around 5 percent when I had

attended in the early 1980s. But during the following

decade, the size of America’s Asian middle class

grew rapidly, leading to a sharp rise in applications

and admissions, with Asians exceeding 10 percent of


DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


undergraduates by the late 1980s and crossing the 20

percent threshold by 1993. However, from that year

forward, the Asian numbers went into reverse, generally

stagnating or declining during the two decades

which followed, with the official 2011 figure being

17.2 percent.


Even more surprising has been the sheer constancy

of these percentages, with almost every year from

1995–2011 showing an Asian enrollment within a

single point of the 16.5 percent average, despite huge

fluctuations in the number of applications and the inevitable

uncertainty surrounding which students will

accept admission. By contrast, prior to 1993 Asian enrollment

had often changed quite substantially from

year to year. It is interesting to note that this exactly

replicates the historical pattern observed by Karabel,

in which Jewish enrollment rose very rapidly, leading

to imposition of an informal quota system, after

which the number of Jews fell substantially, and thereafter

remained roughly constant for decades. On the

face of it, ethnic enrollment levels which widely diverge

from academic performance data or application

rates and which remain remarkably static over time

provide obvious circumstantial evidence for at least a

de facto

ethnic quota system.


n another strong historical parallel, all the other

Ivy League universities seem to have gone through

similar shifts in Asian enrollment at similar times and

reached a similar plateau over the last couple of decades.

As mentioned, the share of Asians at Harvard

peaked at over 20 percent in 1993, then immediately

declined and thereafter remained roughly constant at a

level 3–5 points lower. Asians at Yale reached a 16.8 percent

maximum in that same year, and soon dropped

by about 3 points to a roughly constant level. The Columbia

peak also came in 1993 and the Cornell peak

in 1995, in both cases followed by the same substantial

drop, and the same is true for most of their East Coast

peers. During the mid- to late-1980s, there had been

some public controversy in the media regarding allegations

of anti-Asian discrimination in the Ivy League,

and the Federal Government eventually even opened

an investigation into the matter.

22 But once that investigation

was closed in 1991, Asian enrollments across all

those universities rapidly converged to the same level of

approximately 16 percent, and remained roughly static

thereafter (See chart below). In fact, the yearly fluctuations

in Asian enrollments are often smaller than were

the changes in Jewish numbers during the “quota era”

of the past,

23 and are roughly the same relative size as

the fluctuations in black enrollments, even though the

latter are heavily influenced by the publicly declared

“ethnic diversity goals” of those same institutions.

The largely constant Asian numbers at these elite

colleges are particularly strange when we consider

that the underlying population of Asians in America

has been anything but static, instead growing at the

fastest pace of any American racial group, having increased

by almost 50 percent during the last decade,

and more than doubling since 1993. Obviously, the

relevant ratio would be to the 18–21 age cohort, but












Age 18-21

1990 1995 2000 2005 2011


Age 18-21 and Elite College Enrollment Trends, 1990-2011

Trends of Asian enrollment at Caltech and the Ivy League universities, compared with gr

owth of Asian college-age population; Asian age cohort population figures are

based on Census CPS, and given the small sample size, ar

e subject to considerable yearly statistical fluctuations. Source: Appendices B and C.

Asian En

rollment Percentage

Asians Age 18-21 (In Thousands)


Harvard Yale Princeton Brown Columbia Cornell Dartmouth Penn

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


adjusting for this factor changes little: based on Census

data, the college-age ratio of Asians to whites increased

by 94 percent between 1994 and 2011, even

while the ratio of Asians to whites at Harvard and Columbia

fell over these same years.


Put another way, the percentage of college-age

Asian-Americans attending Harvard peaked around

1993, and has since dropped by over 50 percent, a decline

somewhat larger than the fall in Jewish enrollment

which followed the imposition of secret quotas

in 1925.

25 And we have noted the parallel trends in the

other Ivy League schools, which also replicates the

historical pattern.

Furthermore, during this exact same period a large

portion of the Asian-American population moved

from first-generation immigrant poverty into the

ranks of the middle class, greatly raising their educational

aspirations for their children. Although elite

universities generally refuse to release their applicant

totals for different racial groups, some data occasionally

becomes available. Princeton’s records show that

between 1980 and 1989, Asian-American applications

increased by over 400 percent compared to just 8 percent

for other groups, with an even more rapid increase

for Brown during 1980-1987, while Harvard’s

Asian applicants increased over 250 percent between

1976 and 1985.

26 It seems likely that the statistics

for other Ivy League schools would have followed a

similar pattern and these trends would have at least

partially continued over the decades which followed,

just as the Asian presence has skyrocketed at selective

public feeder schools such as Stuyvesant and Bronx

Science in New York City and also at the top East

Coast prep schools. Yet none of these huge changes

in the underlying pool of Asian applicants seemed to

have had noticeable impact on the number admitted

to Harvard or most of the Ivy League.

Estimating Asian Merit

One obvious possible explanation for these trends

might be a decline in average Asian scholastic performance,

which would certainly be possible if more

and more Asian students from the lower levels of the

ability pool were pursuing an elite education.

27 The

mean SAT scores for Asian students show no such

large decline, but since we would expect elite universities

to draw their students from near the absolute top

of the performance curve, average scores by race are

potentially less significant than the Asian fraction of

America’s highest performing students.

To the extent that the hundred thousand or so undergraduates

at Ivy League schools and their approximate

peers are selected by academic merit, they would

mostly be drawn from the top one-half to one percent

of their American age-cohort, and this is the appropriate

pool to consider. It is perfectly possible that a

particular ethnic population might have a relatively

high mean SAT score, while still being somewhat less

well represented in that top percent or so of measured

ability; racial performance does not necessarily follow

an exact “bell curve” distribution. For one thing,

a Census category such as “Asian” is hardly homogenous

or monolithic, with South Asians and East

Asians such as Chinese and Koreans generally having

much higher performance compared to other groups

such as Filipinos, Vietnamese, or Cambodians, just

as the various types of “Hispanics” such as Cubans,

Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans differ widely in their

socio-economic and academic profiles. Furthermore,

the percentage of a given group taking the SAT may

change over time, and the larger the percentage taking

that test, the more that total will include weaker

students, thereby depressing the average score.

Fortunately, allegations of anti-Asian admissions

bias have become a topic of widespread and heated

debate on the Internet, and disgruntled Asian-American

activists have diligently located various types of

data to support their accusations, with the recent ethnic

distribution of National Merit Scholarship (NMS)

semifinalists being among the most persuasive. Students

receiving this official designation represent approximately

the top one-half of one percent of a state’s

high school students as determined by their scores

on the PSAT, twin brother to the SAT. Each year, the

NMS Corporation distributes the names and schools

of these semifinalists for each state, and dozens of

these listings have been tracked down and linked on

the Internet by determined activists, who have then

sometimes estimated the ethnic distribution of the

semifinalists by examining their family names.

28 Obviously,

such a name analysis provides merely an approximate

result, but the figures are striking enough

to warrant the exercise. (All these NMS semifinalist

estimates are discussed in Appendix E.)


For example, California has a population comparable

to that of the next two largest states combined, and

its 2010 total of 2,003 NMS semifinalists included well

over 1,100 East Asian or South Asian family names.

California may be one of the most heavily Asian

states, but even so Asians of high school age are still

outnumbered by whites roughly 3-to-1, while there

were far more high scoring Asians. Put another way,

although Asians represented only about 11 percent of

California high school students, they constituted al



DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


most 60 percent of the top scoring ones. California’s

list of NMS semifinalists from 2012 also followed a

very similar ethnic pattern. Obviously, such an analysis

based on last names is hardly precise, but it is probably

correct to within a few percent, which is sufficient

for our crude analytical purposes.

In addition, the number of test-takers is sufficiently

large that an examination of especially distinctive last

names allows us to pinpoint and roughly quantify the

academic performance of different Asian groups. For

example, the name “Nguyen” is uniquely Vietnamese

and carried by about 1 in 3.6 of all Americans of that

ethnicity, while “Kim” is just as uniquely Korean, with

one in 5.5 Korean-Americans bearing that name.

30 By

comparing the prevalence of these particular names

on the California NMS semifinalist lists with the total

size of the corresponding California ethnicities, we

can estimate that California Vietnamese are significantly

more likely than whites to score very highly on

such tests, while Koreans seem to do eight times better

than whites and California’s Chinese even better still.

(All these results rely upon the simplifying assumption

that these different Asian groups are roughly proportional

in their numbers of high school seniors.)

Interestingly enough, these Asian performance

ratios are remarkably similar to those worked out

by Nathaniel Weyl in his 1989 book

The Geography

of American Achievement

, in which he estimated that

Korean and Chinese names were over-represented by

1000 percent or more on the complete 1987 lists of

national NMS semifinalists, while Vietnamese names

were only somewhat more likely to appear than the

white average.

31 This consistency is quite impressive

when we consider that America’s Asian population

has tripled since the late 1980s, with major changes as

well in socio-economic distribution and other characteristics.

The results for states other than California reflect

this same huge abundance of high performing Asian

students. In Texas, Asians are just 3.8 percent of the

population but were over a quarter of the NMS semifinalists

in 2010, while the 2.4 percent of Florida Asians

provided between 10 percent and 16 percent of the top

students in the six years from 2008 to 2013 for which

I have been able to obtain the NMS lists. Even in New

York, which contains one of our nation’s most affluent

and highly educated white populations and also remains

by far the most heavily Jewish state, Asian overrepresentation

was enormous: the Asian 7.3 percent of

the population—many of them impoverished immigrant

families—accounted for almost one-third of all

top scoring New York students.

America’s eight largest states contain nearly half our

total population as well as over 60 percent of all Asian-

Americans, and each has at least one NMS semifinalist

list available for the years 2010–2012. Asians account

for just 6 percent of the population in these states, but

contribute almost one-third of all the names on these

rosters of high performing students. Even this result

may be a substantial underestimate, since over half

these Asians are found in gigantic California, where

extremely stiff academic competition has driven the

qualifying NMS semifinalist threshold score to nearly

the highest in the country; if students were selected

based on a single nationwide standard, Asian numbers

would surely be much higher. This pattern extends to

the aggregate of the twenty-five states whose lists are

available, with Asians constituting 5 percent of the total

population but almost 28 percent of semifinalists.

Extrapolating these state results to the national total,

we would expect 25–30 percent of America’s highest

scoring high school seniors to be of Asian origin.


This figure is far above the current Asian enrollment

at Harvard or the rest of the Ivy League.

Ironically enough, the methodology used to select

these NMS semifinalists may considerably understate

the actual number of very high-ability Asian students.

According to testing experts, the three main subcomponents

of intellectual ability are verbal, mathematical,

and visuospatial, with the last of these representing

the mental manipulation of objects. Yet the qualifying

NMS scores are based on math, reading, and writing

tests, with the last two both corresponding to verbal

ability, and without any test of visuospatial skills. Even

leaving aside the language difficulties which students

from an immigrant background might face, East

Asians tend to be weakest in the verbal category and

strongest in the visuospatial, so NMS semifinalists are

being selected by a process which excludes the strongest

Asian component and doubles the weight of the




his evidence of a massively disproportionate Asian

presence among top-performing students only increases

if we examine the winners of national academic

competitions, especially those in mathematics and

science, where judging is the most objective. Each year,

America picks its five strongest students to represent

our country in the International Math Olympiad, and

during the three decades since 1980, some 34 percent

of these team members have been Asian-American,

with the corresponding figure for the International

Computing Olympiad being 27 percent. The Intel Science

Talent Search, begun in 1942 under the auspices

of the Westinghouse Corporation, is America’s most

prestigious high school science competition, and since

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


1980 some 32 percent of the 1320 finalists have been of

Asian ancestry (see Appendix F).

Given that Asians accounted for just 1.5 percent

of the population in 1980 and often lived in relatively

impoverished immigrant families, the longer-term historical

trends are even more striking. Asians were less

than 10 percent of U.S. Math Olympiad winners during

the 1980s, but rose to a striking 58 percent of the

total during the last thirteen years 2000–2012. For the

Computing Olympiad, Asian winners averaged about

20 percent of the total during most of the 1990s and

2000s, but grew to 50 percent during 2009–2010 and a

remarkable 75 percent during 2011–2012.

The statistical trend for the Science Talent Search

finalists, numbering many thousands of top science

students, has been the clearest: Asians constituted

22 percent of the total in the 1980s, 29 percent in

the 1990s, 36 percent in the 2000s, and 64 percent in

the 2010s. In particular science subjects, the Physics

Olympiad winners follow a similar trajectory, with

Asians accounting for 23 percent of the winners during

the 1980s, 25 percent during the 1990s, 46 percent

during the 2000s, and a remarkable 81 percent since

2010. The 2003–2012 Biology Olympiad winners

were 68 percent Asian and Asians took an astonishing

90 percent of the top spots in the recent Chemistry

Olympiads. Some 61 percent of the Siemens AP

Awards from 2002–2011 went to Asians, including

thirteen of the fourteen top national prizes.

Yet even while all these specific Asian-American academic

achievement trends were rising at such an impressive

pace, the relative enrollment of Asians at Harvard

was plummeting, dropping by over half during the

last twenty years, with a range of similar declines also

occurring at Yale, Cornell, and most other Ivy League

universities. Columbia, in the heart of heavily Asian

New York City, showed the steepest decline of all.

There may even be a logical connection between

these two contradictory trends. On the one hand,

America over the last two decades has produced a

rapidly increasing population of college-age Asians,

whose families are increasingly affluent, well-educated,

and eager to secure an elite education for their

children. But on the other hand, it appears that these

leading academic institutions have placed a rather

strict upper limit on actual Asian enrollments, forcing

these Asian students to compete more and more

fiercely for a very restricted number of openings. This

has sparked a massive Asian-American arms-race in

academic performance at high schools throughout

the country, as seen above in the skyrocketing math

and science competition results. When a far greater

volume of applicants is squeezed into a pipeline of

fixed size, the pressure can grow enormously.

The implications of such massive pressure may be

seen in a widely-discussed front page 2005

Wall Street


story entitled “The New White Flight.” 34 The

article described the extreme academic intensity at several

predominantly Asian high schools in Cupertino

and other towns in Silicon Valley, and the resulting

exodus of white students, who preferred to avoid such

an exceptionally focused and competitive academic

environment, which included such severe educational

tension. But should the families of those Asian students

be blamed if according to Espensade and his colleagues

their children require far higher academic performance

than their white classmates to have a similar chance of

gaining admission to selective colleges?

Although the “Asian Tiger Mom” behavior described

by author Amy Chua provoked widespread

hostility and ridicule, consider the situation from

her perspective. Being herself a Harvard graduate,

she would like her daughters to follow in her own Ivy

League footsteps, but is probably aware that the vast

growth in Asian applicants with no corresponding increase

in allocated Asian slots requires heroic efforts

to shape the perfect application package. Since Chua’s

husband is not Asian, she could obviously encourage

her children to improve their admissions chances by

concealing their ethnic identity during the application

process; but this would surely represent an enormous

personal humiliation for a proud and highly successful

Illinois-born American of Chinese ancestry.

The claim that most elite American universities

employ a

de facto Asian quota system is certainly an

inflammatory charge in our society. Indeed, our media

and cultural elites view any accusations of “racial

discrimination” as being among the most horrific of

all possible charges, sometimes even regarded as more

serious than mass murder.

35 So before concluding that

these accusations are probably true and considering

possible social remedies, we should carefully reconsider

their plausibility, given that they are largely

based upon a mixture of circumstantial statistical evidence

and the individual anecdotal cases presented by

Golden and a small handful of other critical journalists.

One obvious approach is to examine enrollment

figures at those universities which for one reason or

another may follow a different policy.

According to incoming student test scores and recent

percentages of National Merit Scholars, four

American universities stand at the absolute summit of

average student quality—Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and

Caltech, the California Institute of Technology; and

of these Caltech probably ranks first among equals.


Those three top Ivies continue to employ the same ad



DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


missions system which Karabel describes as “opaque,”

“flexible,” and allowing enormous “discretion,”

37 a system

originally established to restrict the admission of

high-performing Jews. But Caltech selects its students

by strict academic standards, with Golden praising it

for being America’s shining example of a purely meritocratic

university, almost untouched by the financial

or political corruption so widespread in our other elite

institutions. And since the beginning of the 1990s,

Caltech’s Asian-American enrollment has risen almost

exactly in line with the growth of America’s underlying

Asian population, with Asians now constituting nearly

40 percent of each class (See chart on p. 18).

Obviously, the Caltech curriculum is narrowly focused

on mathematics, science, and engineering, and

since Asians tend to be especially strong in those subjects,

the enrollment statistics might be somewhat

distorted compared to a more academically balanced

university. Therefore, we should also consider the enrollment

figures for the highly-regarded University of

California system, particularly its five most prestigious

and selective campuses: Berkeley, UCLA, San Diego,

Davis, and Irvine. The 1996 passage of Proposition

209 had outlawed the use of race or ethnicity in admissions

decisions, and while administrative compliance

has certainly not been absolute—Golden noted

the evidence of some continued anti-Asian discrimination—

the practices do seem to have moved in the

general direction of race-blind meritocracy.

38 And the

2011 Asian-American enrollment at those five elite

campuses ranged from 34 percent to 49 percent, with a

weighted average of almost exactly 40 percent, identical

to that of Caltech.


In considering these statistics, we must take into account

that California is one of our most heavily Asian

states, containing over one-quarter of the total national

population, but also that a substantial fraction of UC

students are drawn from other parts of the country. The

recent percentage of Asian NMS semifinalists in California

has ranged between 55 percent and 60 percent,

while for the rest of America the figure is probably closer

to 20 percent, so an overall elite-campus UC Asian-

American enrollment of around 40 percent seems reasonably

close to what a fully meritocratic admissions

system might be expected to produce.

By contrast, consider the anomalous admissions

statistics for Columbia. New York City contains

America’s largest urban Asian population, and Asians

are one-third or more of the entire state’s top scoring

high school students. Over the last couple of decades,

the local Asian population has doubled in size and

Asians now constitute over two-thirds of the students

attending the most selective local high schools such as

Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, perhaps triple the levels

during the mid-1980s.

40 Yet whereas in 1993 Asians

made up 22.7 percent of Columbia’s undergraduates,

the total had dropped to 15.6 percent by 2011. These

figures seem extremely difficult to explain except as

evidence of sharp racial bias.

Asian-Americans and Jews

A natural question to consider is the surprising lack

of attention this issue seems to have attracted, despite

such remarkably telling statistics and several articles

over the years in major newspapers by Golden and

other prominent journalists. One would think that

a widespread practice of racial discrimination by

America’s most elite private universities—themselves

leading bastions of “Political Correctness” and strident

anti-racist ideology—would attract much more

public scrutiny, especially given their long prior history

of very similar exclusionary policies with regard

to Jewish enrollment.

41 Without such scrutiny and

the political mobilization it generates, the

status quo

seems unlikely to change.


Indeed, Karabel convincingly demonstrates that

the collapse of the long-standing Jewish quotas in the

Ivy League during the decade following World War II

only occurred as a result of massive media and political

pressure, pressure surely facilitated by very heavy

Jewish ownership of America’s major media organs,

including all three television networks, eight of nine

major Hollywood studios, and many of the leading

newspapers, including both the

New York Times and


Washington Post. By contrast, Asian-Americans

today neither own nor control even a single significant

media outlet, and they constitute an almost invisible

minority in films, television, radio, and print.

For most Americans, what the media does not report

simply does not exist, and there is virtually no major

media coverage of what appear to be

de facto Asian

quotas at our top academic institutions.

But before we conclude that our elite media organs

are engaging in an enormous “conspiracy of silence”

regarding this egregious pattern of racial discrimination

at our most prestigious universities, we should

explore alternate explanations for these striking results.

Perhaps we are considering the evidence from

entirely the wrong perspective, and ignoring the most

obvious—and relatively innocuous—explanation.

In recent decades, the notion of basing admissions

on “colorblind” meritocratic standards such as

standardized academic test scores has hardly been an

uncontroversial position, with advocates for a fully

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


“diversified” student body being far more prominent

within the academic community. Indeed, one of the

main attacks against California’s 1996 Proposition 209

was that its requirement of race-neutrality in admissions

would destroy the ethnic diversity of California’s

higher education system, and the measure was vigorously

opposed by the vast majority of vocal university

academics, both within that state and throughout the

nation. Most leading progressives have long argued

that the students selected by our elite institutions

should at least roughly approximate the distribution

of America’s national population, requiring that special

consideration be given to underrepresented or

underprivileged groups of all types.

We must remember that at all the universities discussed

above, Asian students are already enrolled in

numbers far above their 5 percent share of the national

population, and the Iron Law of Arithmetic is

that percentages must always total to one hundred. So

if additional slots were allocated to Asian applicants,

these must necessarily come from some other group,

perhaps blacks raised in the ghettos of Detroit or desperately

poor Appalachian whites, who might be the

first in their families to attend college. These days in

America, most Asians are a heavily urbanized, highly

affluent population,

43 overwhelmingly part of the middle-

or upper-middle class, and boosting their Harvard

numbers from three times their share of the population

up to five or six might not be regarded as the best policy

when other groups are far needier. To be sure, the

broad racial category “Asian” hides enormous internal

complexity—with Chinese, Koreans, and South Asians

being far more successful than Filipinos, Vietnamese,

or Cambodians—but that is just as true of the equally

broad “white” or “Hispanic” labels, which also conceal

much more than they reveal.

Furthermore, elite universities

explicitly claim to consider a wide

range of other admissions factors

besides academic performance.

Geographical diversity would certainly

hurt Asian chances since

nearly half their population lives

in just the three states of California,

New York, and Texas.

44 Top

athletes gain a strong admissions

edge, and few Asians are found

in the upper ranks of basketball,

football, baseball, and other leading

sports, an occasional Jeremy

Lin notwithstanding. Since most

Asians come from a recent immigrant

background, they would

rarely receive the “legacy boost” going to students

whose families have been attending the Ivy League for

generations. And it is perfectly possible that ideological

considerations of diversity and equity might make

administrators reluctant to allow any particular group

to become too heavily over-represented relative to its

share of the general population. So perhaps highlyqualified

Asians are not being rejected as Asians, but

simply due to these pre-existing ideological and structural

policies of our top universities, whether or not we

happen to agree with them.

45 In fact, when an Asian

student rejected by Harvard filed a complaint of racial

discrimination with the U.S. Department of Education

earlier this year, the Harvard

Crimson denounced his

charges as “ludicrous,” arguing that student diversity

was a crucial educational goal and that affirmative action

impacted Asians no more than any other applicant



The best means of testing this hypothesis would be

to compare Asian admissions with those of a somewhat

similar control group. One obvious candidate

would be the population of elite East Coast WASPs

which once dominated the Ivy League. Members

of this group should also be negatively impacted by

admissions preferences directed towards applicants

from rural or impoverished backgrounds, but there

seems considerable anecdotal evidence that they are

still heavily over-represented in the Ivy League relative

to their academic performance or athletic prowess,

strengthening the suspicion that Asian applicants

are receiving unfair treatment. However, solid statistical

data regarding this elite WASP subpopulation is

almost non-existent, and anyway the boundaries of

the category are quite imprecise and fluid across generations.

For example, the two wealthy Winklevoss

twins of Greenwich, Conn. and Harvard Facebook

Racial Trends for Americans

Age 18-21, 1972-2011

1972 1980 1990 2000 2011







DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


fame might appear to be perfect examples of this social

class, but their grandfather actually had an eighthgrade

education and came from a long line of impoverished

coalminers in rural Pennsylvania.


Fortunately, an alternate comparison population

is readily available, namely that of American Jews,


a group which is both reasonably well-defined and

one which possesses excellent statistical information,

gathered by various Jewish organizations and academic

scholars. In particular, Hillel, the nationwide

Jewish student organization with chapters on most

major university campuses, has for decades been

providing extensive data on Jewish enrollment levels.

Since Karabel’s own historical analysis focuses so very

heavily on Jewish admissions, his book also serves as a

compendium of useful quantitative data drawn from

these and similar sources.


Once we begin separating out the Jewish portion

of Ivy League enrollment, our picture of the overall

demographics of the student bodies is completely

transformed. Indeed, Karabel opens the final chapter

of his book by performing exactly this calculation and

noting the extreme irony that the WASP demographic

group which had once so completely dominated

America’s elite universities and “virtually all the major

institutions of American life” had by 2000 become

“a small and beleaguered minority at Harvard,” being

actually fewer in number than the Jews whose presence

they had once sought to restrict.

50 Very similar

results seem to apply all across the Ivy League, with

the disproportion often being even greater than the

particular example emphasized by Karabel.

In fact, Harvard reported that 45.0 percent of its

undergraduates in 2011 were white Americans, but

since Jews were 25 percent of the student body, the

enrollment of non-Jewish whites might have been as

low as 20 percent, though the true figure was probably

somewhat higher.

51 The Jewish levels for Yale and Columbia

were also around 25 percent, while white Gentiles

were 22 percent at the former and just 15 percent

at the latter. The remainder of the Ivy League followed

this same general pattern.

This overrepresentation of Jews is really quite extraordinary,

since the group currently constitutes just

2.1 percent of the general population and about 1.8

percent of college-age Americans.

52 Thus, although

Asian-American high school graduates each year outnumber

their Jewish classmates nearly three-to-one,

American Jews are far more numerous at Harvard and

throughout the Ivy League. Both groups are highly

urbanized, generally affluent, and geographically concentrated

within a few states, so the “diversity” factors

considered above would hardly seem to apply; yet Jews

seem to fare much better at the admissions office.

Even more remarkable are the historical trajectories.

As noted earlier, America’s Asian population

has been growing rapidly over the last couple of

decades, so the substantial decline in reported Ivy

League Asian enrollment has actually constituted a

huge drop relative to their fraction of the population.

Meanwhile, the population of American Jews has

been approximately constant in numbers, and aging

along with the rest of the white population, leading to

a sharp decline in the national proportion of collegeage

Jews, falling from 2.6 percent in 1972 and 2.2 percent

in 1992 to just 1.8 percent in 2012. Nevertheless,

total Jewish enrollment at elite universities has held

constant or actually increased, indicating a large rise

in relative Jewish admissions. In fact, if we aggregate

the reported enrollment figures, we discover that 4

percent of all college-age American Jews are currently

enrolled in the Ivy League, compared to just 1 percent

of Asians and about 0.1 percent of whites of Christian



One reasonable explanation for these remarkable

statistics might be that although Asian-Americans

are a high-performing academic group, American

Jews may be far higher-performing, perhaps not unlikely

for an ethnicity that gave the world Einstein,

Freud, and so many other prominent intellectual figures.

Thus, if we assume that our elite universities

reserve a portion of their slots for “diversity” while

allocating the remainder based on “academic merit,”

Jews might be handily beating Asians (and everyone

else) in the latter competition. Indeed, the average

Jewish IQ has been widely reported in the range of

110–115, implying a huge abundance of individuals

at the upper reaches of the distribution of intellect. So

perhaps what had seemed like a clear pattern of anti-

Asian discrimination is actually just the workings of

academic meritocracy, at least when combined with

a fixed allocation of “diversity admissions.”

The easiest means of exploring this hypothesis is to

repeat much of our earlier examination of Asian academic

performance, but now to include Jews as part

of our analysis. Although Jewish names are not quite

as absolutely distinctive as East or South Asian ones,

they can be determined with reasonably good accuracy,

so long as we are careful to note ambiguous cases

and recognize that our estimates may easily be off by

a small amount; furthermore, we can utilize especially

distinctive names as a validation check. But strangely

enough, when we perform this sort of analysis, it becomes

somewhat difficult to locate major current evidence

of the celebrated Jewish intellect and academic

achievement discussed at such considerable length by

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


Karabel and many other authors.

For example, consider California, second only to

New York in the total number of its Jews, and with

its Jewish percentage far above the national average.

Over the last couple of years, blogger Steve Sailer and

some of his commenters have examined the complete

2010 and 2012 NMS semifinalist lists of the 2000 or so

top-scoring California high school seniors for ethnicity,

and discovered that as few as 4–5 percent of the

names seem to be Jewish, a figure not so dramatically

different than the state’s 3.3 percent Jewish population,

and an estimate which I have personally confirmed.


Meanwhile, the state’s 13 percent Asians account for

over 57 percent of the top performing students. Thus,

it appears that California Asians are perhaps three

times as likely as Jews to do extremely well on academic

tests, and this result remains unchanged if we

adjust for the age distributions of the two populations.

One means of corroborating these surprising results

is to consider the ratios of particularly distinctive

ethnic names, and Sailer reported such exact findings

made by one of his Jewish readers. For example,

across the 2000-odd top scoring California students

in 2010, there was just a single NMS semifinalist

named Cohen, and also one each for Levy, Kaplan,

and a last name beginning with “Gold.” Meanwhile,

there were 49 Wangs and 36 Kims, plus a vast number

of other highly distinctive Asian names. But according

to Census data, the combined number of

American Cohens and Levys together outnumber the

Wangs almost two-to-one, and the same is true for

the four most common names beginning with “Gold.”

Put another way, California contains nearly one-fifth

of all American Jews, hence almost 60,000 Cohens,

Kaplans, Levys, Goldens, Goldsteins, Goldbergs,

Goldmans, and Golds, and this population produced

only 4 NMS semifinalists, a ratio almost identical to

that produced by our general last name estimates. The

2012 California NMS semifinalist lists yield approximately

the same ratios.

When we consider the apparent number of Jewish

students across the NMS semifinalist lists of other major

states, we get roughly similar results. New York has

always been the center of the American Jewish community,

and at 8.4 percent is half again as heavily Jewish

as any other state, while probably containing a large

fraction of America’s Jewish financial and intellectual

elite. Just as we might expect, the 2011 roster of New

York NMS semifinalists is disproportionately filled

with Jewish names, constituting about 21 percent of the

total, a ratio twice as high as for any other state whose

figures are available. But even here, New York’s smaller

and much less affluent Asian population is far better

represented, providing around 34 percent of the top

scoring students. Jews and Asians are today about equal

in number within New York City but whereas a generation

ago, elite local public schools such as Stuyvesant

were very heavily Jewish, today Jews are outnumbered

at least several times over by Asians.


This same pattern of relative Asian and Jewish performance

on aptitude exams generally appears in the

other major states whose recent NMS semifinalist lists

I have located and examined, though there is considerable

individual variability, presumably due to the

particular local characteristics of the Asian and Jewish

populations. Across six years of Florida results,

Asian students are more than twice as likely to be high

scorers compared to their Jewish classmates, with the

disparity being nearly as great in Pennsylvania. The

relative advantage of Asians is a huge factor of 5.0 in

Michigan and 4.1 in Ohio, while in Illinois Asians still

do 150 percent as well as Jews. Among our largest

states, only in Texas is the Asian performance as low

as 120 percent, although Jews are the group that actually

does much better in several smaller states, usually

those in which the Jewish population is tiny.

As noted earlier, NMS semifinalist lists are available

for a total of twenty-five states, including the

eight largest, which together contain 75 percent of

our national population, as well as 81 percent of

American Jews and 80 percent of Asian-Americans,

and across this total population Asians are almost

twice as likely to be top scoring students as Jews.

Extrapolating these results to the nation as a whole

would produce a similar ratio, especially when we

consider that Asian-rich California has among the

toughest NMS semifinalist qualification thresholds.

Meanwhile, the national number of Jewish semifinalists

comes out at less than 6 percent of the total

based on direct inspection of the individual names,

with estimates based on either the particularly distinctive

names considered by Sailer or the full set of

such highly distinctive names used by Weyl yielding

entirely consistent figures. Weyl had also found

this same relative pattern of high Jewish academic

performance being greatly exceeded by even higher

Asian performance, with Koreans and Chinese being

three or four times as likely as Jews to reach NMS

semifinalist status in the late 1980s, though the overall

Asian numbers were still quite small at the time.


Earlier we had noted that the tests used to select

NMS semifinalists actually tilted substantially against

Asian students by double-weighting verbal skills and

excluding visuospatial ability, but in the case of Jews

this same testing-bias has exactly the opposite impact.

Jewish ability tends to be exceptionally strong in its


DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


verbal component and mediocre at best in the visuospatial,


so the NMS semifinalist selection methodology

would seem ideally designed to absolutely maximize

the number of high-scoring Jews compared to

other whites or (especially) East Asians. Thus, the

number of high-ability Jews we are finding should be

regarded as an extreme upper bound to a more neutrally-

derived total.

But suppose these estimates are correct, and Asians

overall are indeed twice as likely as Jews to rank

among America’s highest performing students. We

must also consider that America’s Asian population

is far larger in size, representing roughly 5 percent

of college-age students, compared to just 1.8 percent

for Jews. Therefore, assuming an admissions system

based on strictest objective meritocracy, we would expect

our elite academic institutions to contain nearly

five Asians for every Jew; but instead, the Jews are far

more numerous, in some important cases by almost a

factor of two. This raises obvious suspicions about the

fairness of the Ivy League admissions process.

Once again, we can turn to the enrollment figures

for strictly meritocratic Caltech as a test of our estimates.

The campus is located in the Los Angeles area,

home to one of America’s largest and most successful

Jewish communities, and Jews have traditionally

been strongly drawn to the natural sciences. Indeed,

at least three of Caltech’s last six presidents have been

of Jewish origin, and the same is true for two of its

most renowned faculty members, theoretical physics

Nobel Laureates Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-

Mann. But Caltech’s current undergraduates are just

5.5 percent Jewish, and the figure seems to have been

around this level for some years; meanwhile, Asian

enrollment is 39 percent, or seven times larger. It is intriguing

that the school which admits students based

on the strictest, most objective academic standards

has by a very wide margin the lowest Jewish enrollment

for any elite university.

Let us next turn to the five most selective campuses

of the University of California system, whose admissions

standards shifted substantially toward objective

meritocracy following the 1996 passage of Prop. 209.

The average Jewish enrollment is just over 8 percent,

or roughly one-third that of the 25 percent found at

Harvard and most of the Ivy League, whose admissions

standards are supposedly far tougher. Meanwhile,

some 40 percent of the students on these UC

campuses are Asian, a figure almost five times as high.

Once again, almost no elite university in the country

has a Jewish enrollment as low as the average for these

highly selective UC campuses.


Another interesting example is MIT, whose students

probably rank fifth in academic strength, just below the

three HYP schools and Caltech, and whose admissions

standards are far closer to a meritocratic ideal than is

found in most elite schools, though perhaps not quite

as pristine as those of its Caltech rival. Karabel notes

that MIT has always had a far more meritocratic admissions

system than nearby Harvard, tending to draw

those students who were academic stars even if socially

undistinguished. As an example, in the 1930s Feynman

had been rejected by his top choice of Columbia

possibly due to its Jewish quota, and instead enrolled

at MIT.

59 But today, MIT’s enrollment is just 9 percent

Jewish, a figure lower than that anywhere in the Ivy

League, while Asians are nearly three times as numerous,

despite the school being located in one of the most

heavily Jewish parts of the country.

The Strange Collapse of Jewish

Academic Achievement

From my own perspective, I found these statistical results

surprising, even shocking.

I had always been well aware of the very heavy Jewish

presence at elite academic institutions. But the

underwhelming percentage of Jewish students who

today achieve high scores on academic aptitude tests

was totally unexpected, and very different from the

impressions I had formed during my own high school

and college years a generation or so ago. An examination

of other available statistics seems to support my

recollections and provides evidence for a dramatic recent

decline in the academic performance of American


The U.S. Math Olympiad began in 1974, and all the

names of the top scoring students are easily available

on the Internet. During the 1970s, well over 40 percent

of the total were Jewish, and during the 1980s

and 1990s, the fraction averaged about one-third.

However, during the thirteen years since 2000, just

two names out of 78 or 2.5 percent appear to be Jewish.

The Putnam Exam is the most difficult and prestigious

mathematics competition for American college

students, with five or six Putnam winners having

been selected each year since 1938. Over 40 percent

of the Putnam winners prior to 1950 were Jewish,

and during every decade from the 1950s through the

1990s, between 22 percent and 31 percent of the winners

seem to have come from that same ethnic background.

But since 2000, the percentage has dropped

to under 10 percent, without a single likely Jewish

name in the last seven years.

This consistent picture of stark ethnic decline recurs

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


when we examine the statistics for the Science Talent

Search, which has been selecting 40 students as

national finalists for America’s most prestigious high

school science award since 1942, thus providing a

huge statistical dataset of over 2800 top science students.

During every decade from the 1950s through

the 1980s, Jewish students were consistently 22–23

percent of the recipients, with the percentage then declining

to 17 percent in the 1990s, 15 percent in the

2000s, and just 7 percent since 2010. Indeed, of the

thirty top ranked students over the last three years,

only a single one seems likely to have been Jewish.

Similarly, Jews were over one-quarter of the top students

in the Physics Olympiad from 1986 to 1997,

but have fallen to just 5 percent over the last decade, a

result which must surely send Richard Feynman spinning

in his grave.

Other science competitions provide generally consistent

recent results, though without the long track

record allowing useful historical comparisons. Over

the last dozen years, just 8 percent of the top students

in the Biology Olympiad have been Jewish, with none

in the last three years. Between 1992 and 2012, only

11 percent of the winners of the Computing Olympiad

had Jewish names, as did just 8 percent of the

Siemens AP Award winners. And although I have

only managed to locate the last two years of Chemistry

Olympiad winners, these lists of 40 top students

contained not a single probable Jewish name.

Further evidence is supplied by Weyl, who estimated

that over 8 percent of the 1987 NMS semifinalists

were Jewish,

60 a figure 35 percent higher than found in

today’s results. Moreover, in that period the math and

verbal scores were weighted equally for qualification

purposes, but after 1997 the verbal score was doubleweighted,


which should have produced a large rise in

the number of Jewish semifinalists, given the verballoading

of Jewish ability. But instead, today’s Jewish

numbers are far below those of the late 1980s.

Taken in combination, these trends all provide

powerful evidence that over the last decade or more

there has been a dramatic collapse in Jewish academic

achievement, at least at the high end.

Several possible explanations for this empirical result

seem reasonably plausible. Although the innate potential

of a group is unlikely to drop so suddenly, achievement

is a function of both ability and effort, and today’s

overwhelmingly affluent Jewish students may be far

less diligent in their work habits or driven in their studies

than were their parents or grandparents, who lived

much closer to the bracing challenges of the immigrant

experience. In support of this hypothesis, roughly half

of the Jewish Math Olympiad winners from the last two

decades have had the sort of highly distinctive names

which would tend to mark them as recent immigrants

from the Soviet Union or elsewhere, and such names

were also very common among the top Jewish science

students of the same period, even though this group

represents only about 10 percent of current American

Jews. Indeed, it seems quite possible that this large sudden

influx of very high performing immigrant Jews

from the late 1980s onward served to partially mask

the rapid concurrent decline of high academic achievement

among native American Jews, which otherwise

would have become much more clearly evident a decade

or so earlier.

This pattern of third or fourth generation American

students lacking the academic drive or intensity

of their forefathers is hardly surprising, nor unique

to Jews. Consider the case of Japanese-Americans,

who mostly arrived in America during roughly the

same era. America’s Japanese have always been a

high-performing group, with a strong academic

tradition, and Japan’s international PISA academic

scores are today among the highest in the world. But

when we examine the list of California’s NMS semifinalists,

less than 1 percent of the names are Japanese,

roughly in line with their share of the California


62 Meanwhile, Chinese, Koreans, and

South Asians are 6 percent of California but contribute

50 percent of the top scoring students, an eightfold

better result, with a major likely difference being

that they are overwhelmingly of recent immigrant

origin. In fact, although ongoing Japanese immigration

has been trivial in size, a significant fraction of

the top Japanese students have the unassimilated

Japanese first names that would tend to indicate they

are probably drawn from that tiny group.

In his 1966 book

The Creative Elite in America,

Weyl used last name analysis to document a similarly

remarkable collapse in achievement among America’s

Puritan-descended population, which had once

provided a hugely disproportionate fraction of our

intellectual leadership, but for various reasons went

into rapid decline from about 1900 onward. He also

mentions the disappearance of the remarkable Scottish

intellectual contribution to British life after about

1800. Although the evidence for both these historical

parallels seems very strong, the causal factors are not

entirely clear, though Weyl does provide some possible



In some respects, perhaps it was the enormously

outsize Jewish academic performance of the past

which was highly anomalous, and the more recent

partial convergence toward white European norms

which is somewhat less surprising. Over the years,


DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


claims have been widely circulated that the mean Jewish

IQ is a full standard deviation—15 points—above

the white average of 100,

64 but this seems to have little

basis in reality. Richard Lynn, one of the world’s

foremost IQ experts, has performed an exhaustive

literature review and located some 32 IQ samples of

American Jews, taken from 1920 to 2008. For the first

14 studies conducted during the years 1920–1937, the

Jewish IQ came out very close to the white American

mean, and it was only in later decades that the average

figure rose to the approximate range of 107–111.


In a previous article “Race, IQ & Wealth,” I had suggested

that the IQs of ethnic groups appear to be far

more malleable than many people would acknowledge,

and may be particularly influenced by factors

of urbanization, education, and affluence.

66 Given

that Jews have always been America’s most heavily

urbanized population and became the most affluent

during the decades in question, these factors may account

for a substantial portion of their huge IQ rise

during most of the twentieth century. But with modern

electronic technology recently narrowing the gaps

in social environment and educational opportunities

between America’s rural and urban worlds, we might

expect a portion of this difference to gradually dissipate.

American Jews are certainly a high-ability population,

but the innate advantage they have over other

high-ability white populations is probably far smaller

than is widely believed.

This conclusion is supported by the General Social

Survey (GSS), an online dataset of tens of thousands

of American survey responses from the last forty years

which includes the Wordsum vocabulary test, a very

useful IQ proxy correlating at 0.71. Converted into the

corresponding IQ scores, the Wordsum-IQ of Jews is

indeed quite high at 109. But Americans of English,

Welsh, Scottish, Swedish, and Catholic Irish ancestry

also have fairly high mean IQs of 104 or above, and

their combined populations outnumber Jews by almost

15-to-1, implying that they would totally dominate

the upper reaches of the white American ability

distribution, even if we excluded the remaining twothirds

of all American whites, many of whose IQs are

also fairly high. Furthermore, all these groups are far

less highly urbanized or affluent than Jews,

67 probably

indicating that their scores are still artificially

depressed to some extent. We should also remember

that Jewish intellectual performance tends to be

quite skewed, being exceptionally strong in the verbal

subcomponent, much lower in math, and completely

mediocre in visuospatial ability; thus, a completely

verbal-oriented test such as Wordsum would actually

tend to exaggerate Jewish IQ.

Stratifying the white American population along

religious lines produces similar conclusions. An

analysis of the data from the National Longitudinal

Survey of Youth found that Americans raised in the

Episcopal Church actually exceeded Jews in mean

IQ, while several other religious categories came

quite close, leading to the result that the overwhelming

majority of America’s high-ability white population

had a non-Jewish background.


Finally, in the case of Jews, these assimilation- or

environment-related declines in relative academic

performance may have been reinforced by powerful

demographic trends. For the last generation or two,

typical Jewish women from successful or even ordinary

families have married very late and averaged little

more than a single child, while the small fraction of

Jewish women who are ultra-Orthodox often marry in

their teens and then produce seven or eight children.


As a consequence, this extremely religious subpopulation

has been doubling in size every twenty years, and

now easily exceeds 10 percent of the total, including a

far higher percentage of younger Jews. But ultra-Orthodox

Jews have generally been academically mediocre,

often with enormously high rates of poverty and

government dependency.

70 Therefore, the combination

of these two radically different trends of Jewish

reproduction has acted to stabilize the total number of

Jewish youngsters, while probably producing a sharp

drop in their average academic achievement.

Meritocracy vs. Jews

Although the relative importance of these individual

factors behind Jewish academic decline is unclear, the

decline itself seems an unmistakable empirical fact,

and the widespread unawareness of this fact has had

important social consequences.

My casual mental image of today’s top American

students is based upon my memories of a generation

or so ago, when Jewish students, sometimes including

myself, regularly took home a quarter or more of

the highest national honors on standardized tests or

in prestigious academic competitions; thus, it seemed

perfectly reasonable that Harvard and most of the

other Ivy League schools might be 25 percent Jewish,

based on meritocracy. But the objective evidence indicates

that in present day America, only about 6 percent

of our top students are Jewish, which now renders such

very high Jewish enrollments at elite universities totally

absurd and ridiculous. I strongly suspect that a similar

time lag effect is responsible for the apparent confusion

in many others who have considered the topic.

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


For example, throughout his very detailed book,

Karabel always seems to automatically identify increasing

Jewish enrollments with academic meritocracy,

and Jewish declines with bias or discrimination,

retaining this assumption even when his discussion

moves into the 1990s and 2000s. He was born in 1950,

graduated Harvard in 1972, and returned there to

earn his Ph.D. in 1977, so this may indeed have been

the reality during his formative years.

71 But he seems

strikingly unaware that the world has changed since

then, and that over the last decade or two, meritocracy

and Jewish numbers have become opposing forces:

the stricter the meritocratic standard, the fewer the

Jews admitted.

Most of my preceding analysis has focused on the

comparison of Asians with Jews, and I have pointed

out that based on factors of objective academic

performance and population size, we would expect

Asians to outnumber Jews by perhaps five to one at

our top national universities; instead, the total Jewish

numbers across the Ivy League are actually 40

percent higher. This implies that Jewish enrollment

is roughly 600 percent greater relative to Asians than

should be expected under a strictly meritocratic admissions


Obviously, all these types of analysis may be applied

just as easily to a comparison of Jews with non-Jewish

whites, and the results turn out to be equally striking.

The key factor is that although Jewish academic

achievement has apparently plummeted in recent decades,

non-Jewish whites seem to have remained relatively

unchanged in their performance, which might

be expected in such a large and diverse population.

As a consequence, the relative proportions of topperforming

students have undergone a dramatic shift.

We must bear in mind that the official U.S. Census

category of “Non-Hispanic white” (which I will

henceforth label “white”) is something of an ethnic

hodgepodge, encompassing all the various white European

ancestry groups, as well as a substantial admixture

of North Africans, Middle Easterners, Iranians,

Turks, Armenians, and Afghans. It amounts

to everyone who is not black, Hispanic, Asian, or

American Indian, and currently includes an estimated

63 percent of all Americans.

Determining the number of whites among NMS

semifinalists or winners of various academic competitions

is relatively easy. Both Asian and Hispanic

names are quite distinctive, and their numbers can

be estimated by the methods already discussed.

Meanwhile, blacks are substantially outnumbered

by Hispanics and they have much weaker academic

performance, so they would produce far fewer very

high scoring students. Therefore, we can approximate

the number of whites by merely subtracting the

number of Asian and Hispanic names as well as an

estimated black total based on the latter figure, and

then determine the number of white Gentiles by also

subtracting the Jewish total.

Once we do this and compare the Jewish and non-

Jewish white totals for various lists of top academic

performers, we notice a striking pattern, with the

historical ratios once ranging from near-equality

to about one-in-four up until the recent collapse

in Jewish performance. For example, among Math

Olympiad winners, white Gentiles scarcely outnumbered

Jews during the 1970s, and held only a threeto-

two edge during the 1980s and 1990s, but since

2000 have become over fifteen times as numerous.

Between 1938 and 1999, Putnam Exam winners had

averaged about two white Gentiles for every Jew,

with the ratios for each decade oscillating between

1.5 and 3.0, then rising to nearly 5-to-1 during 2001–

2005, and without a single Jewish name on the winner

list from 2006 onward.

The elite science competitions follow a broadly

similar pattern. Non-Jewish whites had only outnumbered

Jews 2-to-1 among the Physics Olympiad winners

during 1986–1997, but the ratio rose to at least

7-to-1 during 2002–2012. Meanwhile, white Gentiles

were more numerous by nearly 6-to-1 among 1992–

2012 Computing Olympiad winners, 4-to-1 among

the 2002–2011 Siemens AP Award winners, and over

3-to-1 among 2003–2012 Biology Olympiad champions.

Across the sixty-odd years of America’s Science

Talent Search, Jews had regularly been named finalists

at a relative rate fifteen- or even twenty-times that of

their white Gentile classmates, but over the last decade

or so, this has dropped by half.

The evidence of the recent NMS semifinalist lists

seems the most conclusive of all, given the huge statistical

sample sizes involved. As discussed earlier,

these students constitute roughly the highest 0.5 percent

in academic ability, the top 16,000 high school

seniors who should be enrolling at the Ivy League

and America’s other most elite academic universities.

In California, white Gentile names outnumber

Jewish ones by over 8-to-1; in Texas, over 20-to-1;

in Florida and Illinois, around 9-to-1. Even in New

York, America’s most heavily Jewish state, there are

more than two high-ability white Gentile students

for every Jewish one. Based on the overall distribution

of America’s population, it appears that approximately

65–70 percent of America’s highest ability

students are non-Jewish whites, well over ten times

the Jewish total of under 6 percent.


DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


Period N/J White Asian Jewish

2002–2011 31% 61% 8%

U.S. Math Olympiad Teams


N/J White Asian Jewish

Computing, 1992–2012

62% 27% 11%

Biology, 2003–2012

25% 68% 8%

Chemistry, 2011–2012

10% 90% 0%

U.S. Physics Olympiad Winners

College Putnam Math Winners

Science Olympiad Winners

Siemens Science AP Winners

Science Talent Search Finalists

Period N/J White Asian Jewish

1940s 83% 0% 17%

1950s 78% 1% 22%

1960s 76% 1% 23%

1970s 70% 8% 22%

1980s 55% 22% 23%

1990s 54% 29% 17%

2000s 49% 36% 15%

2010s 29% 64% 7%
































-74 1975-79 1980-84 1985-89 1990-94 1995-99 2000-04 2005-09 2010-12


-42 1950-54 1960-64 1970-74 1980-84 1990-94 2000-04 2010-12


-89 1990-94 1995-99 2000-04 2005-09 2010-12








s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s

N/J White



Period N/J White Asian Jewish

1970s 56% 0% 44%

1980s 54% 9% 37%

1990s 45% 27% 28%

2000s 43% 53% 3%

2010s 28% 72% 0%

Period N/J White Asian Jewish

1938–49 59% 0% 41%

1950s 66% 3% 31%

1960s 76% 2% 22%

1970s 69% 0% 31%

1980s 75% 2% 24%

1990s 44% 24% 31%

2000s 52% 37% 12%

2010s 50% 50% 0%

Period N/J White Asian Jewish

1980s 49% 23% 28%

1990s 55% 25% 20%

2000s 46% 46% 9%

2010s 14% 81% 5%

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


State/Years Total

(2011) N/J White Asian Jewish

Alabama/2008, 2010 208 83% 14% 2%

Arizona/2013 342 68% 26% 5%

California/2010, 2012 1,999 37% 58% 4%

Colorado/2012, 2013 256 78% 14% 7%

Florida/2008-13 867 74% 13% 8%

Illinois/2011-2013 693 71% 21% 8%

Indiana/2010, 2012-13 327 75% 18% 5%

Iowa/2011 191 80% 15% 4%

Kansas/2011 159 87% 9% 4%

Louisiana/2013 190 76% 19% 5%

Maryland/2010 327 57% 32% 11%

Michigan/2012, 2013 570 68% 30% 2%

Minnesota/2010, 2011 318 81% 13% 6%

Missouri/2011 344 87% 11% 2%

Nevada/2010, 2011 85 67% 20% 9%

New Mexico/2011 99 76% 11% 6%

New York/2011, 2012 957 45% 34% 21%

Ohio/2012, 2013 642 76% 20% 4%

Oklahoma/2008 187 83% 14% 3%

Pennsylvania/2012 700 72% 20% 9%

Tennessee/2010 279 80% 17% 2%

Texas/2010 1,344 68% 28% 3%

Virginia/2009 411 74% 19% 6%

Washington/2013 344 64% 31% 5%

Wisconsin/2012 324 87% 11% 3%

Eight Largest States 7,772 60% 33% 7%

25 State Aggregate 12,163 65% 28% 6%

National (estimated)

16,317 65-70% 25-30% 6%

Elite University Undergraduate Enrollments, 2007-2011

Recent NMS Semifinalists for Available States

University Non-Jewish


Asian Unknown



Harvard 18% 16% 12% 26%

Yale 20% 14% 11% 26%

Princeton 37% 16% 5% 13%

Brown 22% 15% 12% 24%

Columbia 15% 16% 10% 25%

Cornell 24% 16% 14% 23%

Dartmouth 42% 14% 6% 11%

Penn 17% 18% 13% 27%

All Ivy League

23% 16% 11% 23%

Caltech 33% 39% 2% 6%

MIT 27% 25% 6% 9%

Stanford 28% 21% 4% 10%

UC Berkeley 21% 40% 7% 10%

UCLA 24% 37% 4% 9%


h White




h White



n Race








d Yale Princeton All Ivy Caltech








ight Largest States,


y Percentage

Source: Appendices C-F


DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


Needless to say, these proportions are considerably

different from what we actually find among the admitted

students at Harvard and its elite peers, which

today serve as a direct funnel to the commanding

heights of American academics, law, business, and

finance. Based on reported statistics, Jews approximately

match or even outnumber non-Jewish whites

at Harvard and most of the other Ivy League schools,

which seems wildly disproportionate. Indeed, the official

statistics indicate that non-Jewish whites at Harvard

are America’s most under-represented population

group, enrolled at a much lower fraction of their

national population than blacks or Hispanics, despite

having far higher academic test scores.


hen examining statistical evidence, the proper

aggregation of data is critical. Consider the

ratio of the recent 2007–2011 enrollment of Asian

students at Harvard relative to their estimated share

of America’s recent NMS semifinalists, a reasonable

proxy for the high-ability college-age population, and

compare this result to the corresponding figure for

whites. The Asian ratio is 63 percent, slightly above

the white ratio of 61 percent, with both these figures

being considerably below parity due to the substantial

presence of under-represented racial minorities

such as blacks and Hispanics, foreign students, and

students of unreported race. Thus, there appears to

be no evidence for racial bias against Asians, even

excluding the race-neutral impact of athletic recruitment,

legacy admissions, and geographical diversity.

However, if we separate out the Jewish students, their

ratio turns out to be 435 percent, while the residual ratio

for non-Jewish whites drops to just 28 percent, less

than half of even the Asian figure. As a consequence,

Asians appear under-represented relative to Jews by

a factor of seven, while non-Jewish whites are by far

the most under-represented group of all, despite any

benefits they might receive from athletic, legacy, or

geographical distribution factors. The rest of the Ivy

League tends to follow a similar pattern, with the overall

Jewish ratio being 381 percent, the Asian figure at

62 percent, and the ratio for non-Jewish whites a low

35 percent, all relative to their number of high-ability

college-age students.

Just as striking as these wildly disproportionate

current numbers have been the longer enrollment

trends. In the three decades since I graduated Harvard,

the presence of white Gentiles has dropped by

as much as 70 percent, despite no remotely comparable

decline in the relative size or academic performance

of that population; meanwhile, the percentage

of Jewish students has actually increased. This

period certainly saw a very rapid rise in the number

of Asian, Hispanic, and foreign students, as well as

some increase in blacks. But it seems rather odd that

all of these other gains would have come at the expense

of whites of Christian background, and none

at the expense of Jews.

Furthermore, the Harvard enrollment changes

over the last decade have been even more unusual

when we compare them to changes in the underlying

demographics. Between 2000 and 2011, the relative

percentage of college-age blacks enrolled at Harvard

dropped by 18 percent, along with declines of 13 percent

for Asians and 11 percent for Hispanics, while

only whites increased, expanding their relative enrollment

by 16 percent. However, this is merely an optical

illusion: in fact, the figure for non-Jewish whites

slightly declined, while the relative enrollment of Jews

increased by over 35 percent, probably reaching the

highest level in Harvard’s entire history. Thus, the

relative presence of Jews rose sharply while that of all

other groups declined, and this occurred during exactly

the period when the once-remarkable academic

performance of Jewish high school students seemed

to suddenly collapse.

Most of the other Ivy League schools appear to

follow a fairly similar trajectory. Between 1980 and

2011, the official figures indicate that non-Jewish

white enrollment dropped by 63 percent at Yale, 44

percent at Princeton, 52 percent at Dartmouth, 69

percent at Columbia, 62 percent at Cornell, 66 percent

at Penn, and 64 percent at Brown. If we confine

our attention to the last decade or so, the relative proportion

of college-age non-Jewish whites enrolled at

Yale has dropped 23 percent since 2000, with drops

of 28 percent at Princeton, 18 percent at Dartmouth,

19 percent at Columbia and Penn, 24 percent at Cornell,

and 23 percent at Brown. For most of these universities,

non-white groups have followed a mixed

pattern, mostly increasing but with some substantial

drops. I have only located yearly Jewish enrollment

percentages back to 2006, but during the six years

since then, there is a uniform pattern of often substantial

rises: increases of roughly 25 percent at Yale,

45 percent at Columbia, 10 percent at Cornell, 15

percent at Brown, and no declines anywhere.

Fourteen years ago I published a widely-discussed

column in the

Wall Street Journal highlighting some

of the absurdities of our affirmative action system

in higher education.

72 In particular, I pointed out

that although Jews and Asians then totaled merely 5

percent of the American population, they occupied

nearly 50 percent of the slots at Harvard and most of

the other elite Ivies, while non-Jewish whites were left

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2








Jewish Enrollment at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, 1900–2012

1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000 2012






lite University Enrollment

Ratios 2


Relative to High Ability Students Age 18–21


100% 200% 300% 400%















University Enrollment


ios 2007–11

Relative to

Total Age 18–21 Population



N/J White




N/J White



Note that the ethnic en

rollment ratios for Berkeley and UCLA are based on the national demographics, but their students are primarily drawn from within California, whose racial

distribution is very diffe

rent: the white student population is half the national average, while Asians and Hispanics are more numerous by a factor of two, implying different parity

ratios. The underlying data for these charts is drawn f

rom Appendix H.

0% 300% 600% 900%



cent of Parity


DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


as the most under-represented student population,

with relative numbers below those of blacks or Hispanics.

Since then Jewish academic achievement has

seemingly collapsed but relative Jewish enrollment in

the Ivies has generally risen, while the exact opposite

combination has occurred for both Asians and non-

Jewish whites. I find this a strange and unexpected



t is important to recognize that all of these enrollment

statistics are far less precise than we might

ideally desire. As mentioned earlier, over the last

couple of decades widespread perceptions of racial

bias in admissions have led a significant number of

students to refuse to reveal their race, which the official

statistics classify as “race unknown.” This group

almost certainly consists of Asians and whites, but it

is impossible for us to determine the relative proportions,

and without this information our above estimates

can only be approximate.

Similarly, nearly all our figures on Jewish enrollment

were ultimately drawn from the estimates of

Hillel, the national Jewish campus organization, and

these are obviously approximate. However, the Hillel

data is the best we possess for recent decades, and

is regularly used by the

New York Times and other

prominent media outlets, while also serving as the basis

for much of Karabel’s award-winning scholarship.

Furthermore, so long as any latent bias in the data

remained relatively constant, we could still correctly

analyze changes over time.

For these sorts of reasons, any of the individual figures

provided above should be treated with great caution,

but the overall pattern of enrollments—statistics

compiled over years and decades and across numerous

different universities—seems likely to provide an

accurate description of reality.

Elite Colleges Look Neither Like

America Nor Like America’s

Highest-Ability Students

We are therefore faced with the clear conundrum that

Jewish students seem to constitute roughly 6 percent

of America’s highest-ability high school graduates and

non-Jewish whites around 65–70 percent, but these

relative ratios differ by perhaps 1000 percent from

the enrollments we actually find at Harvard and the

other academic institutions which select America’s

future elites. Meanwhile, an ethnic distribution much

closer to this apparent ability-ratio is found at Caltech,

whose admissions are purely meritocratic, unlike the

completely opaque, subjective, and discretionary Ivy

League system so effectively described by Karabel,

Golden, and others.

One obvious explanatory factor is that the Ivy League

is located in the Northeast, a region of the country in

which the Jewish fraction of the population is more

than twice the national average. However, these schools

also constitute America’s leading national universities,

so their geographical intake is quite broad, with

Harvard drawing less than 40 percent of its American

students from its own region, and the others similarly

tending to have a nationally distributed enrollment. So

this factor would probably explain only a small portion

of the discrepancy. Furthermore, MIT utilizes a considerably

more meritocratic and objective admissions

system than Harvard, and although located just a few

miles away has a ratio of Jewish to non-Jewish whites

which differs by nearly a factor of four in favor of the

latter compared to its crosstown rival.

By the late 1960s Jewish students had become a substantial

fraction of most Ivy League schools and today

some of their children may be benefiting from legacies.

But until about twenty-five years ago, white Gentiles

outnumbered their Jewish classmates perhaps as

much as 3-to-1, so if anything we might expect the

admissions impact of legacies to still favor the former

group. Anyway, the research of Espenshade and his

colleagues have shown that being a legacy provides an

admissions advantage in the range of 19–26 percent,


while we are attempting to explain enrollment differences

of roughly 1000 percent.

American Jews are certainly more affluent than

most other groups, but all Ivy League universities

admit their American students on a “need-blind” basis,

so perceptions of ability to pay cannot be a factor,

even if any evidence existed that Jewish applicants

were actually wealthier than their non-Jewish counterparts.

Many Jewish alumni are very generous to

their alma maters, but so are non-Jews, and indeed

nine of the ten largest university donations in history

have come from non-Jewish individuals, nearly all in

the last fifteen years;

74 thus, mercenary hopes of large

future bequests would probably not be influencing

these skewed admissions.

Perhaps Jews simply apply to these schools in far

greater relative numbers, with successful, educationally-

ambitious Jewish families being much more likely to

encourage their bright children to aim at the Ivies than

the parents of equally bright non-Jews. However, since

these elite schools release no information regarding

the ethnic or racial skew of their applications, we have

no evidence for this hypothesis. And why would highability

non-Jews be 600 percent or 800 percent more

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


likely to apply to Caltech and MIT than to those other

elite schools, which tend to have a far higher national


Anyway, the numbers alone render this explanation

implausible. Each year, the Ivy League colleges enroll

almost 10,000 American whites and Asians, of whom

over 3000 are Jewish. Meanwhile, each year the NMS

Corporation selects and publicly names America’s

highest-ability 16,000 graduating seniors; of these,

fewer than 1000 are Jewish, while almost 15,000 are

non-Jewish whites and Asians. Even if every single one

of these high-ability Jewish students applied to and enrolled

at the Ivy League—with none going to any of

America’s other 3000 colleges—Ivy League admissions

officers are obviously still dipping rather deep into

the lower reaches of the Jewish ability-pool, instead

of easily drawing from some 15,000 other publicly

identified candidates of far greater ability but different

ethnicity. Why would these universities not simply

send out inexpensive mailings to these 15,000 top

students, encouraging them to apply, especially since

their geographical, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds

might help to considerably “diversify” undergraduate

enrollments, while greatly raising the average student

test scores by which these universities supposedly live

or die in the competitive college-rankings.

The situation becomes even stranger when we focus

on Harvard, which this year accepted fewer than

6 percent of over 34,000 applicants and whose offers

of admission are seldom refused. Each Harvard class

includes roughly 400 Jews and 800 Asians and non-

Jewish whites; this total represents over 40 percent of

America’s highest-ability Jewish students, but merely

5 percent of their equally high-ability non-Jewish

peers. It is quite possible that a larger percentage of

these top Jewish students apply and decide to attend

than similar members from these other groups, but it

seems wildly implausible that such causes could account

for roughly an eight-fold difference in apparent

admissions outcome. Harvard’s stated “holistic”

admissions policy explicitly takes into account numerous

personal characteristics other than straight

academic ability, including sports and musical talent.

But it seems very unlikely that any remotely neutral

application of these principles could produce admissions

results whose ethnic skew differs so widely from

the underlying meritocratic ratios.

One datapoint strengthening this suspicion of admissions

bias has been the plunge in the number of

Harvard’s entering National Merit Scholars, a particularly

select ability group, which dropped by almost

40 percent between 2002 and 2011, falling from 396

to 248. This exact period saw a collapse in Jewish

academic achievement combined with a sharp rise

in Jewish Harvard admissions, which together might

easily help to explain Harvard’s strange decline in this

important measure of highest student quality.

Harvard could obviously fill its entire class with

high-scoring valedictorians or National Merit Scholars

but chooses not to do so. In 2003, Harvard rejected

well over half of all applicants with perfect

SAT scores, up from rejecting a quarter a few years

earlier, and in 2010 Princeton acknowledged it also

admitted only about half.

75 According to Harvard’s

dean of admissions, “With the SAT, small differences

of 50 or 100 points or more have no significant effect

on admissions decisions.”

76 In fact, a former Senior

Admissions Officer at Harvard has claimed that by

the mid-2000s as few as 5 percent of the students at

highly selective universities such as his own were admitted

purely based on academic merit.


It is important to note that these current rejection

rates of top scoring applicants are vastly higher than

during the 1950s or 1960s, when Harvard admitted

six of every seven such students and Princeton adopted

a 1959 policy in which no high scoring applicant

could be refused admission without a detailed

review by a faculty committee.

78 An obvious indication

of Karabel’s obtuseness is that he describes and

condemns the anti-meritocratic policies of the past

without apparently noticing that they have actually

become far worse today. An admissions framework

in which academic merit is not the prime consideration

may be directly related to the mystery of why

Harvard’s ethnic skew differs in such extreme fashion

from that of America’s brightest graduating seniors.

In fact, Harvard’s apparent preference for academically

weak Jewish applicants seems to be reflected in

their performance once they arrive on campus.



aving considered and largely eliminated these

several possible explanatory factors, we can

only speculate as to the true causes of such seemingly

anomalous enrollment statistics at our Ivy League

universities. However, we cannot completely exclude

the possible explanation that these other top students

are simply not wanted at such elite institutions, perhaps

because their entrance in large numbers might

drastically transform the current ethnic and cultural

mix. After all, Karabel devoted hundreds of pages of

his text to documenting exactly this pattern of Ivy

League admissions behavior during the 1920s and

1930s, so why should we be surprised if it continues

today, at least at an unconscious level, but simply with

the polarities reversed?

It would be unreasonable to ignore the salient fact


DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2

that this massive apparent bias in favor of far lessqualified

Jewish applicants coincides with an equally

massive ethnic skew at the topmost administrative

ranks of the universities in question, a situation which

once again exactly parallels Karabel’s account from the

1920s. Indeed, Karabel points out that by 1993 Harvard,

Yale, and Princeton all had presidents of Jewish


80 and the same is true for the current presidents

of Yale, Penn, Cornell, and possibly Columbia,

as well as Princeton’s president throughout during the

1990s and Yale’s new incoming president, while all

three of Harvard’s most recent presidents have either

had Jewish origins or a Jewish spouse.


At most universities, a provost is the second-ranking

official, being responsible for day-to-day academic

operations. Although Princeton’s current president is

not Jewish, all seven of the most recent Princeton provosts

stretching back to 1977 have had such ancestry,

with several of the other Ivies not being far behind.

82 A

similar degree of massive overrepresentation is found

throughout the other top administrative ranks of the

rest of the Ivy League, and across American leading

educational institutions in general, and these are the

institutions which select our future national elites.

I have not the slightest reason to doubt that the overwhelming

majority of these individuals are honest and

sincere, and attempt to do their best for their institutions

and their students. But as our liberal intellectual elites

regularly emphasize, unconscious biases or shared assumptions

can become a huge but unnoticed problem

when decision-making occurs within a very narrow

circle, whose extreme “non-diversity” may lead to lack

of introspection, and what else can be said when for the

last two decades almost all of the leaders of our most elite

universities have been drawn from an ethnic community

constituting just 2 percent of America’s population?

As a perfect example of such a situation, consider

an amusing incident from the mid-1980s, when Asian

groups first noticed a sharp decline in Asian admissions

rates to Harvard and accused the university of

having begun a quiet effort to restrict Asian numbers,

criticism which was vigorously resisted by senior Harvard

officials. During this period, Henry Rosovsky,

Harvard’s Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

(and later Acting President), referred to Asian American

students as “no doubt the most over-represented

group in the university.”

83 At that point, Harvard’s

Asian students were enrolled at 300 percent of parity,

while those of Rosovsky’s own ethnicity were probably

at 900 percent or more of parity.


Unconscious biases may become especially serious

when combined with an admissions system based on

the extreme flexibility and subjectivity that exists at

these colleges. As mentioned, three of Caltech’s last six

presidents have been of Jewish origins, but the objective

admissions system has produced no sign of ethnic

favoritism, and largely meritocratic MIT also seems

unaffected by having had two Jewish presidents of

the last five.

85 But when machinery already exists for

admitting or rejecting whomever a university wishes,

on any grounds whatsoever, that machinery may be

unconsciously steered in a particular direction by the

shared group biases of the individuals controlling it.

The Disturbing Reality of the

Elite College Admission System

Perhaps the most detailed statistical research into the

actual admissions practices of American universities

has been conducted by Princeton sociology professor

Thomas J. Espenshade and his colleagues, whose results

were summarized in his 2009 book

No Longer

Separate, Not Yet Equal

, co-authored with Alexandria

Walton Radford. Their findings provide an empirical

look at the individual factors that dramatically raise

or lower the likelihood of acceptance into the leading

American universities which select the next generation

of our national elites.

The research certainly supports the widespread

perception that non-academic factors play a major

role in the process, including athletic ability and

“legacy” status. But as we saw earlier, even more significant

are racial factors, with black ancestry being

worth the equivalent of 310 points, Hispanics gaining

130 points, and Asian students being penalized by

140 points, all relative to white applicants on the 1600

point Math and Reading SAT scale.


Universities always emphasize the importance of

non-academic (and subjective) “leadership traits” as a

central reason why they do not rely upon grades and

academic test scores to select at least their white students,

arguing that evidence of such personal initiative

and leadership should often outweigh somewhat

lower academic performance in predicting future success

and value to our society. And on the face of it,

these claims may seem plausible.

But the difficulty comes from the fact that such

subjective factors must necessarily be assessed subjectively,

by the particular individuals sitting in the Yale

or Columbia admissions offices, and their cultural or

ideological background may heavily taint their decision-

making. One of Espenshade’s most striking findings

was that excelling in certain types of completely

mainstream high school activities actually

reduced a

student’s admission chances by 60–65 percent, appar


E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


ently because teenagers with such interests were regarded

with considerable disfavor by the sort of people

employed in admissions; these were ROTC, 4-H Clubs,

Future Farmers of America, and various similar organizations.


Consider that these reported activities were

totally mainstream, innocuous, and non-ideological,

yet might easily get an applicant rejected, presumably

for being cultural markers. When we recognize the

overwhelmingly liberal orientation of nearly all our

elite universities and the large communities of academics

and administrators they employ, we can easily imagine

what might become of any applicants who proudly

proclaimed their successful leadership roles in an activity

associated with conservative Christianity or rightwing

politics as their extracurricular claim to fame.

Our imagination is given substance by

The Gatekeepers,

a fascinating and very disturbing inside look

at the admissions system of Wesleyan, an elite liberal

arts college in Middleton, Conn. The author was

Jacques Steinberg, a veteran National Education Correspondent

at the

New York Times, and now its editor

focusing on college admissions issues. Although

Wesleyan definitely ranks a notch or so below

the Ivies in selectivity, Steinberg strongly

suggests that the admissions decision-making

process is very similar, and while his

2002 book described the selection of the Fall

2000 entering class, his afterword to the 2012

edition states that the overall process has remained

largely unchanged down to the present

day. Whether or not Steinberg himself

recognizes it, the most striking fact—which

would surely shock students almost anywhere else in

the Developed World—is the enormous focus on ideology

and ethnic background compared to academic

achievement or evidence of intellectual ability, as well

as the powerful role of “connections” and clout.

Consider the case of Tiffany Wang, a Chinese immigrant

student raised in the Silicon Valley area, where

her father worked as an engineer. Although English

was not her first language, her SAT scores were

over 100 points above the Wesleyan average, and she

ranked as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist,

putting her in the top 0.5 percent of high school students

(not the top 2 percent as Steinberg mistakenly

claims). Nevertheless, the admissions officer rated her

just so-so in academics, and seemed far more positively

impressed by her ethnic activism in the local

school’s Asian-American club. Ultimately, he stamped

her with a “Reject,” but later admitted to Steinberg that

she might have been admitted if he had been aware

of the enormous time and effort she had spent campaigning

against the death penalty, a political cause

near and dear to his own heart. Somehow I suspect

that a student who boasted of leadership in pro-death

penalty activism among his extracurriculars might

have fared rather worse in this process. And presumably

for similar reasons, Tiffany was also rejected by all

her other prestigious college choices, including Yale,

Penn, Duke, and Wellsley, an outcome which greatly

surprised and disappointed her immigrant father.


There was also the case of half-Brazilian Julianna

Bentes, with slight black ancestry, who came from a

middle-class family and attended on a partial scholarship

one of America’s most elite prep schools, whose

annual tuition now tops $30,000; her SAT scores were

somewhat higher than Tiffany’s, and she was an excellent

dancer. The combination of her academic ability,

dancing talent, and “multiracial” background ranked

her as one of America’s top college recruitment prospects,

gaining her admission and generous financial

packages from Harvard, Yale, Stanford and every

other elite university to which she applied, including

the University of Chicago’s most prestigious academic

scholarship award and a personal opportunity to meet

Chelsea Clinton while visiting Stanford, which she

did, before ultimately selecting Yale.


Finally, there was the case of Becca Jannol, a girl

from a very affluent Jewish family near Beverly Hills,

who attended the same elite prep school as Julianna,

but with her parents paying the full annual tuition. Despite

her every possible advantage, including test-prep

courses and retaking the exam, her SAT scores were

some 240 points lower on the 1600 point scale, placing

her toward the bottom of the Wesleyan range, while

her application essay focused on the philosophical

challenges she encountered when she was suspended

for illegal drug use. But she was a great favorite of her

prep school counselor, who was an old college friend of

the Wesleyan admissions officer, and using his discretion,

he stamped her “Admit.” Her dismal academic record

then caused this initial decision to be overturned

by a unanimous vote of the other members of the full

admissions committee, but he refused to give up, and

moved heaven and earth to gain her a spot, even offering

to rescind the admissions of one or more already

Excelling in certain types of mainstream

high school activities, such as ROTC and

4-H Clubs, actually reduced a student’s

admission chances by 60–65 percent.


DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


selected applicants to create a place for her. Eventually

he got her shifted from the Reject category to wait-list

status, after which he secretly moved her folder to the

very top of the large waiting list pile.


In the end “connections” triumphed, and she received

admission to Wesleyan, although she turned it

down in favor of an offer from more prestigious Cornell,

which she had obtained through similar means.

But at Cornell, she found herself “miserable,” hating

the classes and saying she “didn’t see the usefulness of

[her] being there.” However, her poor academic ability

proved no hindrance, since the same administrator

who had arranged her admission also wrangled

her a quick entrance into a special “honors program”

he personally ran, containing just 40 of the 3500 students

in her year. This exempted her from all academic

graduation requirements, apparently including

classes or tests, thereby allowing her to spend her four

college years mostly traveling around the world while

working on a so-called “special project.” After graduation,

she eventually took a job at her father’s successful

law firm, thereby realizing her obvious potential as a

member of America’s ruling Ivy League elite, or in her

own words, as being one of “the best of the best.”


Steinberg’s description of the remaining handful of

Wesleyan applicants seems to fall into a very similar

pattern, indicating that our elite admissions process

operates under the principle of “Ideology and Diversity

tempered by Corruption.” Certainly the majority of

the decisions made seem to demonstrate that although

the Maoist doctrine of favoring “Red over Expert” was

abandoned decades ago in China, it is still alive and

well in America’s elite university admissions process,

though sometimes mitigated by factors of wealth

and influence.

92 The overwhelmingly liberal orientation

of the elite university community, the apparent

willingness of many liberals to actively discriminate

against non-liberals, and the fact that American Jews

remain perhaps the most liberal ethnic community

may together help explain a significant portion of our

skewed enrollment statistics.


We should also note that although admissions officers

are poorly paid, earning less than public school


94 they nevertheless control a very valuable

resource. According to Steinberg’s account, when individual

officers are particularly forceful in their advocacy

for an obviously under-qualified applicant, their

colleagues regularly ask them, perhaps jokingly, “how

much are they paying you to get that student admitted?”


Indeed, Golden states that admissions officers

at top universities are constantly being offered explicit

bribes, sometimes even including promises of houses

or cruises.

96 And although Steinberg’s presentation of

Wesleyan’s admissions practices was glowingly favorable,

it may have been more than pure coincidence that

the particular admissions officer who was the focus of

his reporting decided to seek employment elsewhere

just before the book was scheduled to appear in print.


Steinberg’s narrative is engagingly written and he

makes no effort to conceal his own ideological orientation,

but some of his major lapses are troubling. For

example, he accepts without question the notion that

Asian-American applicants receive a racial “diversity”

boost in elite admissions, though it has been obvious

for decades that the exact opposite is true. And in his

introduction, he describes the disturbingly exclusionary

world of the past, explaining that until the late

1950s Jews “need not have bothered trying” to enroll

at Harvard or the other Ivies.

98 Yet in fact, Jews were

heavily, often massively over-represented in the Ivy

League throughout the entire Twentieth Century, and

by 1952 constituted 25 percent of Harvard undergraduates,

a rate some 700 percent higher than their share

of the general population.


Steinberg is an award-winning journalist who has

spent most of the last 15 years covering education for


New York Times, and surely ranks near the very

top of his profession; his book was widely reviewed

and almost universally praised. For such huge factual

errors to pass unnoticed is a very disturbing indication

of the knowledge and assumptions of the individuals

who shape our public perceptions on the realities

of higher education in our society.


n fact, it seems likely that some of these obvious

admissions biases we have noticed may be related

to the poor human quality and weak academic credentials

of many of the university employees making

these momentous decisions. As mentioned above,

the job of admissions officer is poorly paid, requires

no professional training, and offers few opportunities

for career advancement; thus, it is often filled by

individuals with haphazard employment records. As

one of the “Little Ivies,” Wesleyan is among America’s

most prestigious liberal arts colleges, and Steinberg’s

description of the career paths of its handful

of admissions officers is eye-opening: the interim

Director of Admissions had most recently screened

food-stamp recipients and run a psychiatric half-way

house; another had worked as an animal control officer

and managed a camera store; a third unsuccessfully

sought a job as a United Airlines flight attendant;

others were recent college graduates, whose

main college interests had been sports or ethnic studies.


The vast majority seem to possess minimal academic

expertise and few intellectual interests, raising

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


serious questions about their ability to reasonably

evaluate their higher-quality applicants.

As additional evidence, we can consider

What It

Really Takes to Get into the Ivy League

, a 2003 advice

book written by Chuck Hughes, who spent five years

as a Senior Admissions Officer at Harvard, after having

himself graduated from that university. Although

he strongly emphasizes his own college participation in

varsity sports, he never says a word about any personal

academic interests, and near the end of his book on elite

college admissions, he appears to describe Duke, Northwestern,

and Rice as being members of the Ivy League.


A more explicit statement of this exact problem is

found in

A for Admission, a very candid 1997 description

of the admissions process at elite private universities

written by Michele A. Hernandez, who had spent

four years as Dartmouth’s Assistant Director of Admissions.

Near the beginning of her book, Hernandez explains

that over half of Ivy League admissions officers

are individuals who had not attended such academically

challenging universities, nor probably had the

intellectual capability to do so, and were sometimes

confused about the relative ranking of SAT scores and

other basic academic credentials. She also cautions

students to avoid any subtlety in their essays, lest their

words be misunderstood by their readers in the admissions

office, whose degrees are more likely to have been

in education than in any serious academic discipline.


It seems quite possible that poorly-paid liberal arts

or ethnic-studies majors, probably with few quantitative

skills and a vaguely “progressive” ideological focus,

could implement highly unfair admissions decisions

without even realizing their actions. According

to Steinberg, admissions officers seem to assume that

an important part of their duty is maximizing nonwhite

enrollment, and this is especially true if they

themselves are non-white, while there is no indication

that they are actually aware of America’s overall

population distribution.


The last point is not a trivial one, since although our

country is only about 13 percent black, according to

a 2001 Gallup survey most people thought the figure

was 33 percent, with the average non-white putting

it at 40 percent.

104 This was roughly confirmed by the

GSS respondents in 2000, who also believed that nearly

18 percent of Americans were Jewish, a figure more

than eight times too large.

105 A very recent 2012 survey

found that Americans believe Protestants outnumber

Jews in this country by only 2.5 to 1, when the actual

ratio is ten times greater.


Such shocking demographic ignorance is hardly

confined solely to the uneducated. For example, soon

after Karabel’s book appeared, a prominent Massachusetts

law school dean with a major interest in ethnic discrimination

issues devoted two hours of his televised

public affairs program to a detailed discussion of the

topic with the author, but at the end let slip that he believed

California’s population was 50 percent Asian, an

utter absurdity.

107 So perhaps many college administrators

may have little idea about which ethnic groups are

already enrolled above parity and which are below, instead

taking their marching orders from an amorphous

academic narrative which valorizes “racial diversity.”

Meanwhile, any hint of “anti-Semitism” in admissions

is regarded as an absolutely mortal sin, and any

significant reduction in Jewish enrollment may often

be denounced as such by the hair-trigger media. For

example, in 1999 Princeton discovered that its Jewish

enrollment had declined to just 500 percent of parity,

down from more than 700 percent in the mid-1980s,

and far below the comparable figures for Harvard or

Yale. This quickly resulted in four front-page stories

in the

Daily Princetonian, a major article in the New

York Observer

, and extensive national coverage in

both the

New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher


108 These articles included denunciations of

Princeton’s long historical legacy of anti-Semitism and

quickly led to official apologies, followed by an immediate

30 percent rebound in Jewish numbers. During

these same years, non-Jewish white enrollment across

the entire Ivy League had dropped by roughly 50 percent,

reducing those numbers to far below parity, but

this was met with media silence or even occasional

congratulations on the further “multicultural” progress

of America’s elite education system.

I suspect that the combined effect of these separate

pressures, rather than any planned or intentional bias,

is the primary cause of the striking enrollment statistics

that we have examined above. In effect, somewhat

dim and over-worked admissions officers, generally

possessing weak quantitative skills, have been tasked

by their academic superiors and media monitors with

the twin ideological goals of enrolling Jews and enrolling

non-whites, with any major failures risking

harsh charges of either “anti-Semitism” or “racism.”

But by inescapable logic maximizing the number of

Jews and non-whites implies minimizing the number

of non-Jewish whites.

Problems with Pure Diversity

and Pure Meritocracy

In recent decades, elite college admissions policy has

frequently become an ideological battlefield between

liberals and conservatives, but I would argue that both


DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


these warring camps have been missing the actual reality

of the situation.

Conservatives have denounced “affirmative action”

policies which emphasize race over academic merit,

and thereby lead to the enrollment of lesser qualified

blacks and Hispanics over their more qualified white

and Asian competitors; they argue that our elite institutions

should be color-blind and race-neutral. Meanwhile,

liberals have countered that the student body of

these institutions should “look like America,” at least

approximately, and that ethnic and racial diversity intrinsically

provide important educational benefits, at

least if all admitted students are reasonably qualified

and able to do the work.

My own position has always been strongly in the

former camp, supporting meritocracy over diversity

in elite admissions. But based on the detailed evidence

I have discussed above, it appears that both these ideological

values have gradually been overwhelmed and

replaced by the influence of corruption and ethnic

favoritism, thereby selecting future American elites

which are not meritocratic nor diverse, neither being

drawn from our most able students nor reasonably reflecting

the general American population.

The overwhelming evidence is that the system

currently employed by most of our leading universities

admits applicants whose ability may be unremarkable

but who are beneficiaries of underhanded

manipulation and favoritism. Nations which put

their future national leadership in the hands of such

individuals are likely to encounter enormous economic

and social problems, exactly the sort of problems

which our own country seems to have increasingly

experienced over the last couple of decades.

And unless the absurdly skewed enrollments of our

elite academic institutions are corrected, the composition

of these feeder institutions will ensure that

such national problems only continue to grow worse

as time passes. We should therefore consider various

means of correcting the severe flaws in our academic

admissions system, which functions as the primary

intake valve of our future national elites.

One obvious approach would be to wave a magic

wand and make the existing system “work better” by

replacing many thousands of college admissions officers

by individuals more competent and less venal,

guardians of the common good who would properly

balance objective academic merit against other intrinsic

student qualities, while avoiding any lapse

into rank favoritism. But this same simple solution

could always be proposed for any other obviously

failing system, including Soviet-style Communism.

A more fundamental change might be to directly

adopt the implicit logic of America’s “academic diversity”

movement—whose leadership has been

overwhelmingly Jewish

109—and require our elite

universities to bring their student bodies into

rough conformity with the overall college-age

population, ethnicity by ethnicity, in which

case the Jewish presence at Harvard and the

rest of the Ivy League would drop to between

1.5 and 2 percent.


However, even leaving aside the rights and

wrongs of such a proposal, it would be extremely

difficult to implement in practice. The

pattern of American ethnic origins is complex

and interwoven, with high intermarriage

rates, leading to categories being fluid and ambiguous.

Furthermore, such an approach would foster clear

absurdities, with wealthy Anglo-Saxons from Greenwich,

Conn. being propelled into Yale because they fill

the “quota” created on the backs of the impoverished

Anglo-Saxons of Appalachia or Mississippi.

An opposite approach would be to rely on strictest

objective meritocracy, with elite universities automatically

selecting their students in academic rankorder,

based on high school grades and performance

on standardized exams such as the SAT. This approach

would be similar to that used in many other

developed countries around the world, but would

produce severe social problems of its own.

Consider the notorious examples of the singleminded

academic focus and testing-frenzy which

are already sometimes found at many predominantly

Asian immigrant high schools, involving endless

cram-courses and massive psychological pressure.

This seems very similar to the stories of extreme educational

effort found in countries such as Japan, South

Korea, and China, where educational success is an

overriding social value and elite admissions are fully

determined by rank-order academic performance.

At present, these severe educational pressures on

American teenagers have been largely confined to a

portion of our small Asian-American population and

perhaps some of their non-Asian schoolmates, but if

It appears that both the values of

meritocracy and diversity have gradually

been overwhelmed and replaced by the

influence of corruption and ethnic favoritism.

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


Harvard and its peers all selected their students based

on such criteria, a huge fraction of American students

would be forced to adopt similar work-habits or lose

any hope of gaining admission. Do we really want to

produce an entire nation of “Asian Tiger Moms” of all

ethnicities and backgrounds, probably with horrible

consequences for the future mental health, personal

creativity, and even long-term academic performance

of the next generation?

Also, we would expect such a system to heavily

favor those students enrolled at our finest secondary

schools, whose families could afford the best private

tutors and cram-courses, and with parents willing

to push them to expend the last ounce of their

personal effort in endless, constant studying. These

crucial factors, along with innate ability, are hardly

distributed evenly among America’s highly diverse

population of over 300 million, whether along geographical,

socio-economic, or ethnic lines, and the

result would probably be an extremely unbalanced

enrollment within the ranks of our top universities,

perhaps one even more unbalanced than that of today.

Although American cultural elites may currently

pay too much lip service to “diversity” as a value,

there is also such a thing as too little educational diversity.

Do we really want a system in which all of

America’s top 100 universities selected their students

much like Caltech does today, and therefore had a

similar academic environment?

We should also consider that under such a selection

system, any interest or involvement not directly

contributing to the academic transcript—including

activities associated with artistic talent, sports ability,

or extra-curricular leadership—would disappear

from our top universities, since students who devoted

any significant time to those pursuits would tend

to lose out to those who did not. Even those highestability

students who gained admission would tend to

forego the benefits of encountering classmates with a

somewhat more balanced mix of interests and abilities,

a group closer to the American mainstream, and

might therefore develop a very one-sided and unrealistic

view of our national population. And if every

student admitted to Harvard believed, not without

some justification, that he had been objectively determined

to be among the smartest and hardest

working 0.05 percent of all Americans his age, that

might not be the best psychological starting point

for a teenager just entering his adult life and future


These same problems would also manifest themselves

in an admissions system based on strict meritocracy

as adjusted by socio-economic status, which

Richard Kahlenberg prominently advocated in his

1996 book

The Remedy, and various other writings.

Although this approach has always seemed reasonably

attractive to me and the results would certainly

provide more socio-economical balance than straight

meritocracy, other “diversity” enhancements might be

minimal. We should remember that a significant fraction

of our Asian immigrant population combines very

low socio-economic status with extremely strong academic

performance and educational focus, so it seems

likely that this small group would capture a hugely disproportionate

share of all admissions spots influenced

by these modifying factors, which may or may not be

fully realized by advocates of this approach.

An Inner Ring and an Outer Ring

But if selecting our future elites by purest “diversity”

wouldn’t work, and using purest “meritocracy” would

seem an equally bad idea, what would be the right approach

to take as a replacement for today’s complex

mixture of diversity, meritocracy, favoritism, and corruption?

Perhaps an important starting point would be

to recognize that in any normal distribution curve,

numbers widen greatly and differences become far

less significant below the very top. Today’s academic

supporters of “affirmative action” frequently claim

that beneath the strongest tier of academic applicants

to Yale or Stanford, the differences between particular

students become relatively small, only slightly indicative

of how they will perform at the college if they

are enrolled;

111 and this claim is not entirely false. A

large fraction of all the students applying have demonstrated

that they have the ability and commitment

to adequately perform the college work in question,

and although they are unlikely to graduate in the top 5

percent of Princeton’s class, the same is also true of the

vast majority of their classmates. The average student

at Harvard is going to be an average Harvard student,

and perhaps it would be better if a large majority of

the admitted students would not find this prospect a

horrifying disappointment after their previously stellar

career of having always been the biggest student

fish in their smallish academic ponds.

The notion of top universities only selecting a slice of

their students based on purest academic merit certainly

seems to be the standard today, and was so in the past

as well. Karabel recounts how during the 1950s and

1960s, Harvard reserved about 10 percent of its spots

for “top brains,” while selecting the remainder based

on a mixture of different factors.

112 In Choosing Elites,


DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


Robert Klitgaard indicates that roughly this same approach

continued into the 1980s, with only a fraction

of admitted students being classified and admitted as

“first-class scholars.”

113 As already mentioned, according

to Hughes, who served five years as a Harvard Senior

Admissions Officer at Harvard, by the mid-2000s

only 5 percent or less of Harvard undergraduates were

selected purely on academic merit, with extracurricular

activities and a wide variety of unspecified other criteria

being used to choose among the other 80–85 percent

of applicants who could actually handle the academic

work; and this same pattern is found at most other

highly selective universities.

114 Given a widening funnel

of ability, it is absurd to base admissions decisions on

just a small difference of twenty or thirty points on the

SAT, which merely encourages students to spend thousands

of hours cramming in order to gain those extra

crucial twenty or thirty points over their competitors.

But if our elite colleges were to select only a portion

of their students based on purest academic merit, how

should they pick the remainder, merely by flipping a

coin? Actually, that might not be such a terrible idea,

at least compared with the current system, in which

these decisions are often seemingly based on massive

biases and sometimes even outright corruption. After

all, if we are seeking a student body which is at least

somewhat diverse and reasonably representative of the

American population, random selection is hardly the

least effective means of ensuring that outcome. And the

result would be true diversity, rather than the dishonest

and ridiculous pseudo-diversity of our existing system.

The notion of using random selection to overcome

the risk of unfair bias has been used for centuries, including

in our own country, and is regularly found

in matters of the greatest civic importance, especially

those involving life and death. Our jury system relies

on the random selection of a handful of ordinary citizens

to determine the guilt or innocence of even the

most eminent and powerful individuals, as well as to

render corporate verdicts with penalties reaching into

the billions. The millions of Americans ordered to

fight and perhaps die in our major wars were generally

called into the military by the process of a random

draft lottery. And today, the enormous growth of

games of chance and financial lotteries, often government-

run, have become an unfortunate but very popular

aspect of our entire economic system. Compared

to these situations, requiring an excellent but hardly

spectacular student to take his chances on winning a

spot at Harvard or Yale hardly seems unreasonable.


The Big Test, journalist Nicholas Lemann traces

the history of meritocratic admissions policy, and

the philosophical conflicts which liberals faced once

that policy first came into direct conflict with the racial

diversity they also favored, beginning when the


“reverse discrimination” case reached the

U.S. Supreme Court in 1974. At that point, one of the

high court’s strongest liberal voices was Justice William

O. Douglas, and he repeatedly considered the

possible use of random lotteries as the fairest means

of allocating college admissions slots below the top

tier of most highly qualified applicants.


Let us explore the likely social implications of such

an admissions policy, focusing solely on Harvard

and following a very simple model, in which (say)

300 slots or around 20 percent of each entering class

are allocated based on pure academic merit (the “Inner

Ring”), with the remaining 1300 slots being randomly

selected from the 30,000 or so American applicants

considered able to reasonably perform at the

school’s required academic level and thereby benefit

from a Harvard education (the “Outer Ring”).

First, we must recognize that the 300 applicants

admitted by straight merit would be an exceptionally

select group, representing just the top 2 percent

of America’s 16,000 NMS semifinalists. Also, almost

any American students in this group or even reasonably

close would be very well aware of that fact, and

more importantly, nearly all other students would realize

they were far too distant to have any chance of

reaching that level, no matter how hard they studied

or how many hours they crammed, thus freeing them

from any terrible academic pressure. Under today’s

system, the opaque and haphazard nature of the admissions

process persuades tens of thousands of students

they might have a realistic shot at Harvard if

only they would study a bit harder or participate in

one more resume-stuffing extracurricular,

116 but that

would no longer be the case, and they would be able

to relax a bit more during their high school years, just

so long as they did well enough to qualify and try

their luck as one of the “Outer Ring” of applicants.

The 300 Inner Ring students would certainly be

quite different in all sorts of ways from the average high

school student, even aside from their greater academic

ability and drive; they might not be “diverse” in any

sense of the word, whether geographically, ethnically,

or socio-economically. But the remaining 1300 Outer

Ring students would represent a random cross-section

of the tens of thousands of students who applied for

admission and had reasonably good academic ability,

and since they would constitute 80 percent of the

enrollment, Harvard would almost certainly become

far more diverse and representative of America’s total

population in almost all ways than is the case today,

when 30 percent of its students come from private

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


schools, often the most elite and expensive ones.


Furthermore, the vast majority of Harvard graduates—

and everyone who later dealt with them—

would know perfectly well that they had merely been

“lucky” in gaining their admission, thereby tempering

the sort of arrogance found among too many

of today’s elite college graduates. And our vast and

growing parasitic infrastructure of expensive cramschools,

private tutors, special academies, and college

application consultants would quickly be reduced

to what was merited by their real academic value,

which may actually be close to nil. A general armistice

would have been declared in America’s endlessly

growing elite admissions arms-race.

Under such a system, Harvard might no longer

boast of having America’s top Lacrosse player or a

Carnegie Hall violinist or a Senatorial scion. But the

class would be filled with the sort of reasonably talented

and reasonably serious athletes, musicians, and

activists drawn as a cross-section from the tens of

thousands of qualified applicants, thereby providing a

far more normal and healthier range of students.

The terrible family pressure which students, especially

immigrant students, often today endure in the

college admissions process would be greatly reduced.

Even the most ambitious parents would usually recognize

that their sons and daughters are unlikely to ever

outrank 99.99 percent of their fellow students academically,

so their only hope of reaching a school like Harvard

would be the same as that of everyone else, via the

admissions lottery. And losing in a random drawing

can hardly be a source of major shame to any family.

One of the most harmful aspects of recent American

society has been the growth of a winner-take-all

mentality, in which finishing even just slightly below

the top rung at any stage of the career ladder seems

to amount to economic and sometimes personal failure.

An aspect of this is that our most elite businesses

tend to only recruit from the top universities, assuming

that these possess a near-monopoly on the brightest

and most talented students, even though it actually

appears that favoritism and corruption these days

are huge factors in admission. But if it were explicitly

known that the vast majority of Harvard students had

merely been winners in the application lottery, top

businesses would begin to cast a much wider net in

their employment outreach, and while the average

Harvard student would probably be academically

stronger than the average graduate of a state college,

the gap would no longer be seen as so enormous, with

individuals being judged more on their own merits

and actual achievements. A Harvard student who


magna cum laude would surely have many

doors open before him, but not one who graduated in

the bottom half of his class.

This same approach of an Inner Ring and an Outer

Ring of admissions could similarly be applied to

most of America’s other selective colleges, perhaps

with some variations in the relative sizes of the two

groups. It is possible that some universities such as

Caltech, which today selects its 200 entering freshmen

by purely meritocratic academic rank-order, might

prefer to retain that system, in which case the Inner

Ring would constitute the entire enrollment. Other

universities, which glorify the extremes of total diversity,

might choose to select almost all their students by

random lot. But for most, the sort of split enrollment I

have outlined might work reasonably well.

Since colleges would still be positioned in a hierarchy

of national excellence and prestige, those students

whose academic record just missed placing them

within the Inner Ring of a Harvard or a Yale would almost

certainly gain automatic admission to a Columbia,

Cornell, or Duke, and the same sort of cascading

effect would be found down through all subsequent

layers of selectivity. Thus, although America’s top

couple of thousand students each year would not all

be found among the 4000 entering Harvard, Yale, or

Princeton, they would at least gain admission to some

Ivy or its equivalent, in contrast to the shocking examples

of admissions injustice recounted by Golden.

Since essays, personal statements, lists of extracurricular

achievements and so many other uniquely

complex and time-consuming elements of the American

admissions process would no longer exist, students

could easily apply to long lists of possible colleges,

ranking them in order of personal preference.

Meanwhile, the colleges themselves could dispense

with nearly their entire admissions staff, since the

only remaining part of the admissions process would

be determining the academic ranking of the tiny

fraction of top applicants, which could be performed

quickly and easily. Harvard currently receives almost

35,000 applications, which must each be individually

read and evaluated in a massive undertaking,

but applying a crude automatic filter of grades and

test scores would easily winnow these down to the

1,000 plausible candidates for those 300 Inner Ring

slots, allowing a careful evaluation of those highestperforming

students on pure academic grounds.

Eliminating at a stroke the enormous expense and

complexity of our baroque admissions process might

actually raise the quality of the students attending elite

colleges by drawing more applicants into the system,

especially if, as I suggest elsewhere, tuition at our top

private colleges were drastically reduced or even elim



DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


inated (See “Paying Tuition to a Giant Hedge Fund”).

The late James Q. Wilson certainly ranked as one

of America’s most highly-regarded social scientists

of the second half of the twentieth century, and

when he was awarded the Gold Medal of the National

Institute of Social Sciences in 2011, his remarks

provided some fascinating details of his own educational

background. Although an outstanding high

school student in Southern California, no one in

his family had ever previously attended college nor

had he himself given it any thought, instead starting

work in his father’s auto repair shop after graduation

in order to learn the trade of a car mechanic. However,

one of his teachers arranged his admission to a

small college on a full scholarship, which launched

him on his stellar academic career.


It seems likely that the vast paperwork and expense

of today’s admissions system, with its endless forms,

intrusive questionnaires, fee-waiver-applications, and

general bureaucracy intimidates many bright students,

especially those from impoverished or immigrant

backgrounds, and deters them from even considering

an application to our elite colleges, especially since

they perhaps wrongly assume that they would stand

no chance of success. But filling out a few very simple

forms and having their test scores and grades scores automatically

forwarded to a list of possible universities

would give them at least the same chance in the lottery

as any other applicant whose academic skills were adequate.


ollowing the 1991 collapse and disintegration

of the Soviet Union, some observers

noted with unease that the United States was

left as about the only remaining large and fullyfunctional

multi-ethnic society, and the subsequent

collapse and disintegration of ethnically

diverse Yugoslavia merely strengthened these

concerns. China is sometimes portrayed by the

ignorant American media as having large and

restive minority populations, but it is 92 percent

Han Chinese, and if we exclude a few outlying

or thinly populated provinces—the equivalents

of Alaska, Hawaii, and New Mexico—closer

to 95 percent Han, with all its top leadership

drawn from that same background and therefore

possessing a natural alignment of interests.

Without doubt, America’s great success despite

its multiplicity of ethnic nationalities is almost

unique in modern human history. But such success

should not be taken for granted.

Many of the Jewish writers who focus on the

history of elite university admissions, including

Karabel, Steinberg, and Lemann, have critiqued and

rebuked the America of the first half of the Twentieth

Century for having been governed by a narrow

WASP ascendency, which overwhelmingly dominated

and controlled the commanding heights of business,

finance, education, and politics; and some of

their criticisms are not unreasonable. But we should

bear in mind that this dominant group of White

Anglo-Saxon Protestants—largely descended from

among the earliest American settlers and which had

gradually absorbed and assimilated substantial elements

of Celtic, Dutch, German, and French background—

was generally aligned in culture, religion,

ideology, and ancestry with perhaps 60 percent of

America’s total population at the time, and therefore

hardly represented an alien presence.

119 By contrast,

a similarly overwhelming domination by a tiny segment

of America’s current population, one which is

completely misaligned in all these respects, seems

far less inherently stable, especially when the institutional

roots of such domination have continually

increased despite the collapse of the supposedly

meritocratic justification. This does not seem like a

recipe for a healthy and successful society, nor one

which will even long survive in anything like its current


Power corrupts and an extreme concentration of

power even more so, especially when that concentration

of power is endlessly praised and glorified by the

major media and the prominent intellectuals which














’80 ’85 ’90 ’95 ’00 ’05 ’10

GDP per capita growth

Constant international dollars adjusted for purchasing power parity

Ratios, 1980=100



D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2



rom its 1636 foundation Harvard had always

ranked as America’s oldest and most prestigious

college, even as it gradually grew in size

and academic quality during the first three

centuries of its existence. The widespread destruction

brought about by the Second World War laid low its

traditional European rivals, and not long after celebrating

its third centennial, Harvard had become the

world’s greatest university.

Harvard only improved its standing during the

successful American postwar decades, and by its

350th anniversary in 1986 was almost universally

recognized as the leader of the world’s academic community.

But over the decade or two which followed,

it quietly embarked upon a late-life career change,

transforming itself into one of the world’s largest

hedge funds, with some sort of school or college or

something attached off to one side for tax reasons.

The numbers tell the story. Each September, Harvard’s

6,600 undergraduates begin their classes at the

Ivy-covered walls of its traditional Cambridge campus

owing annual tuition of around $37,000 for the

privilege, up from just $13,000 in 1990. Thus, over

the last two decades, total tuition income (in current

dollars) has increased from about $150 million to almost

$250 million, with a substantial fraction of this

list-price amount being discounted in the form of the

university’s own financial aid to the families of its less

wealthy students.

Meanwhile, during most of these years, Harvard’s

own endowment has annually grown by five or ten or

even twenty times that figure, rendering net tuition

from those thousands of students a mere financial

bagatelle, having almost no impact on the university’s

cash-flow or balance-sheet position. If all the students

disappeared tomorrow—or were forced to pay double

their current tuition—the impact would be negligible

compared to the crucial fluctuations in the mortgagederivatives

market or the international cost-of-funds


A very similar conclusion may be drawn by examining

the expense side of the university’s financial

statement. Harvard’s Division of Arts and

Sciences—the central core of academic activity—

contains approximately 450 full professors, whose

annual salaries tend to average the highest at any

university in America. Each year, these hundreds of

great scholars and teachers receive aggregate total

pay of around $85 million. But in fiscal 2004, just

the five top managers of the Harvard endowment

fund shared total compensation of $78 million, an

amount which was also roughly 100 times the salary

of Harvard’s own president. These figures clearly

demonstrate the relative importance accorded to the

financial and academic sides of Harvard’s activities.

Unlike universities, the business model of large

and aggressive hedge funds is notoriously volatile,

and during the 2008 Financial Crisis, Harvard lost

$11 billion on its net holdings, teetering on the verge

of bankruptcy as its highly illiquid assets could

not easily be redeployed to cover hundreds of millions

of dollars in ongoing capital commitments to

Paying Tuition to a Giant Hedge Fund

together constitute such an important element of that

power. But as time goes by and more and more Americans

notice that they are poorer and more indebted

than they have ever been before, the blandishments of

such propaganda machinery will eventually lose effectiveness,

much as did the similar propaganda organs

of the decaying Soviet state. Kahlenberg quotes Pat

Moynihan as noting that the stagnant American earnings

between 1970 and 1985 represented “the longest

stretch of ‘flat’ income in the history of the European

settlement of North America.”

120 The only difference

today is that this period of economic stagnation has

now extended nearly three times as long, and has also

been combined with numerous social, moral, and foreign

policy disasters.

Over the last few decades America’s ruling elites

have been produced largely as a consequence of the

particular selection methods adopted by our top national

universities in the late 1960s. Leaving aside the

question of whether these methods have been fair or

have instead been based on corruption and ethnic

favoritism, the elites they have produced have clearly

done a very poor job of leading our country, and

we must change the methods used to select them.

Conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. once famously

quipped that he would rather entrust the government

of the United States to the first 400 names

listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the

faculty of Harvard. So perhaps an important step in

solving our national problems would be to apply a

similar method to selecting the vast majority of Harvard’s


Appendices to this article can be found at


DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


various private equity funds. The desperate hedge

fund—ahem, academic institution—was forced to

borrow $2.5 billion from the credit markets, lay off

hundreds of university employees, and completely

halt construction work on a huge expansion project,

ultimately surviving and later recovering in much

the same way as did Goldman Sachs or Citibank.

During all these untoward events, the dollars being

paid in by physics majors and being paid out to

professors of medieval French literature were of no

significance whatsoever, and if institutional investors

had balked at the massive bond sales, both groups

might have arrived at the classroom one morning

only to see a “Closed for Bankruptcy” notice, while

Cerberus Capital Management and the Blackstone

Group began furiously bidding for the liquidated

real estate properties and private equity holdings of

what had once been America’s most storied center of

learning. Meanwhile, Bill Gates might have swooped

in and acquired the unimportant educational properties

themselves for a song, afterward renaming the

campus itself Microsoft U.-East.

It is commendable that so many former students

feel gratitude to their academic alma mater, but personal

loyalty to a wealthy hedge fund is somewhat

less warranted, and if Harvard’s residual and



educational activities provide it with enormous

tax advantages, perhaps those activities should

be brought into greater alignment with benefit to our

society. The typical private foundation is legally required

to spend 5 percent of its assets on charitable

activities, and with Harvard’s endowment now back

over $30 billion, that sum would come to around $1.5

billion annually. This is many times the total amount

of undergraduate tuition, which should obviously be

eliminated, thereby removing a substantial financial

barrier to enrollment or even application.

One of the major supposed reasons Harvard disproportionately

admits the children of the wealthy or

those of its alumni is the desperate need to maintain

its educational quality by soliciting donations, and the

endless irritations of fund-raising drives are an inevitable

accompaniment to the reunion process. But the alltime

record for a total alumni class contribution was set

earlier this year by the Class of 1977 at just $68.7 million,

or about 0.2 percent of the existing endowment;

and even the aggregate amount of annual alumni donations

to support the college is quite trivial compared

to the overall income and expenditure statement.

There is also the Internet gossip of an explicit

“Harvard Price,” a specific donation dollar amount

which would get your son or daughter admitted. The

figure is said to be $5 million these days for an applicant

who is reasonably competitive and $10 million

for one who is not. Daniel Golden’s

The Price of


provides a specific example which tends to

generally confirm this disturbing belief.

But if such claims are true, then Harvard is following

an absurd policy, selling off its good name

and reputation for just pennies on the dollar, not

least because the sums involved represent merely a

day or two of its regular endowment income. Harvard

surely ranks as the grandest academic name in

the world, carrying a weight of prestige that could be

leveraged to extract far greater revenue at far lower

cost of academic dignity.

Suppose, for example, that instead of such surreptitious

and penny-ante wheeling and dealing,

Harvard simply auctioned off a single admissions

slot each year to the highest blind bidder on the international

markets. I suspect that the same sorts of

individuals who currently pay $50 million or $100

million for a splotchy painting they can hang on

their walls would surely be willing to spend a similar

amount to have their son or daughter embossed

with the Harvard stamp of approval. The key factor

is that such prestige goods are almost entirely

positional in value, with most of the benefit derived

from the satisfaction of having outbid your rival Internet

billionaires, oil sheikhs, or Russian oligarchs,

so the higher the price goes, the more valuable the

commodity becomes. And since the goal would

be to extract as much money as possible from the

wealthy bidders, a non-refundable bidding deposit

of 2 percent or 5 percent, win or lose, might double

or triple the total dollars raised.

Thus, instead of extracting steep net tuition from

thousands of undergraduates (and perhaps quietly

selling a handful of spots each year for a few million

dollars each), Harvard could probably raise just as

much revenue by enrolling a single under-qualified

student in a process which would publicly establish

the gigantic financial value contained in a Harvard

diploma. It’s even quite likely that a useful side-benefit

of the publicity would be a large rise in Harvard’s

total applicants, including those of highest quality, as

families all across the country and the world sought

to obtain at zero cost the exact same product which a

billionaire had just bought for $70 million.

If Harvard wishes to retain its primary existence

as a gigantic profit-maximizing hedge fund, that is

well and good, but meanwhile perhaps it should be

required to provide a free top quality college education

to a few thousand deserving students as a minor

community service.

—Ron Unz

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2



“Harvard Says 125 Students May Have Cheated on a Final

Exam,” Richard Perez-Pena and Jess Bidgood,

The New York


, August 30, 2012:




By 2010, the top 1% of Americans possessed 35.4% of the

national net wealth, while the bottom 95% held 36.9%. See Edward

N. Wolff, “The Asset Price Meltdown and the Wealth of

the Middle Class,”

New York University, August 26, 2012: http://


See Ho (2009) pp. 11, 13, 40-69 passim, 256 for an extensive

discussion of the college background and recruitment choices

made by Wall Street firms in recent years. According to her

“ethnography” of Wall Street, major financial firms recruit

very heavily from Harvard and Princeton, somewhat less at

the remaining Ivy League schools and a few others such as

Stanford and MIT, and rarely anywhere else, partly because

they believe admission to elite universities provide evidence of

“smartness,” which Wall Street values above all else (p. 38).

The claim that attendance at an Ivy League or other elite

university provides a substantial advantage over similarly

talented individuals has been disputed by the recent research

of Stacy Dale and Alan B. Krueger, but their findings are based

on students who graduated college almost two decades ago,

and probably do not capture the dramatic recent changes in the

American economy and Wall Street practices since that time.

See David Leonhardt, “Revisiting the Value of Elite Colleges,”

The New York Times

, February 21, 2011: http://economix.blogs.


Ezra Klein, “Wall Street Steps In When Ivy League Fails,”

Washington Post,

February 16, 2012: http://www.washingtonpost.




Austin Bramwell, “Top of the Class,” The American Conservative,

March 13, 2012: http://www.theamericanconservative.



As an example of these extreme efforts, see “NYC’s Kindergarten


The New York Post/PageSix Magazine, October 5,




Jenny Anderson and Peter Applebome, “Exam Cheating on

Long Island Hardly a Secret,”

The New York Times, December

1, 2011:



Golden (2006) pp. 44-48.


Ssu-yu Teng, “Chinese Influence on the Western Examination System,”

Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies

, Sept. 1943, pp. 267-312.


Karabel (2005) pp. 89-109.


The Shape of the River

(1998) William G. Bowen and

Derek Bok

Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education

(2005) William G. Bowen, Martin A. Kurzweil, and

Eugene M. Tobin

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

(2011) Amy Chua

No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal

(2009) Thomas J.

Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford

The Price of Admission

(2006) Daniel Golden

Twilight of the Elites

(2012) Christopher Hayes

A Is For Admission

(1997) Michele A. Hernandez

Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street


Karen Ho

Asian Americans in Higher Education and at Work

(1988) Jayjia Hsia

What It Really Takes to Get into the Ivy League


Chuck Hughes

The Chosen

(2005) Jerome Karabel

Choosing Elites

(1985) Robert Klitgaard

The Big Test

(1999) Nicholas Lemann

The Chosen People: A Study of Jewish Intelligence and


(2011) Richard Lynn

How to Be a High School Superstar

(2010) Cal Newport

Joining the Club: A History of Jews and Yale


Dan A. Oren

How They Got Into Harvard

(2005) The Harvard


The Gatekeepers

(2002/2012) Jacques Steinberg

The Half-Opened Door

(1979/2010) Marcia Graham


The Retreat from Race

(1992/1998) Dana Y. Takagi

The Abilities and Achievements of Orientals in North


(1982) Philip E. Vernon

The Creative Elite in America

(1966) Nathaniel Weyl

The Geography of American Achievement


Nathaniel Weyl



DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2



Oren (1985) p. 62.


Karabel (2005) p. 126.


Karabel (2005) pp. 387-391.


Karabel (2005) p. 364


Karabel (2005) pp. 93, 194-195, 486-499.


Karabel (2005) pp. 524-525.


Admittedly, surveys show that the vast majority of Asian-

Americans do not believe their racial background hurts their

chances of college admission, but such factors would obviously

apply primarily only at the elite, highly selective universities,

which only a small fraction of Asians seek to attend. See “The

Rise of Asian Americans,”

Pew Research Center, June 19, 2012:


Jesse Washington, “Some Asians’ College Strategy: Don’t Check


The Associated Press, December 3, 1011:


51620236/1. See also Jon Marcus, “Competitive


The Boston Globe, April 17, 2011: http://www.


top_schools/ and Scott Jaschik, “Is It Bias? Is It Legal?,”


Higher Ed

, February 3, 2012:




Espanshade (2009) p. 92-93.


Golden (2006) p. 200.


The elite university enrollment statistics for Asians and other

racial and ethnic groups derived from the NCES data are

provided in Appendix C. All the Asian figures provided by the

NCES exclude “mixed race” individuals, who were previously

included in the “Race Unknown” category but since 2009 have

been provided separately.


Hsia (1988) pp. 93-148, Takagi (1992/1998).


For example, see Oren (1985) pp. 320-322 and Synnott

(1979/2010) pp. 112,195.


A portion of this decline in relative Asian enrollment may be apparent

rather than real. As noted earlier, some Asian applicants,

especially those of mixed parentage and without an identifying

Asian name, may attempt to conceal their non-white ancestry

in hopes of enhancing their likelihood of admission. But such

a situation can hardly be used to justify Ivy League policy, and

since the numbers are unknown, we must generally confine our

analysis to the officially reported statistics.


It should be noted that some former Ivy League admissions

officers strongly deny such charges of anti-Asian bias. For example,

Chuck Hughes, who spent five years as a Harvard Senior

Admissions Officer, claims in his 2003 book that Asian American

applicants—just like blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, and

other non-whites—actually receive a beneficial “tip” in evaluating

their application packages. It should also be noted that Hughes

strongly emphasizes his own enthusiastic participation in varsity

sports as a Harvard undergraduate, while avoiding mention of any

academic interests. See Hughes (2003) pp. 86, 145.


Hsia (1988) pp. 98-99; Karabel (2005) p. 500.


Indeed, Dean L. Fred Jewett of Harvard suggested in 1985 that

among Asians “family pressure makes more marginal students

apply” but provided no evidence for this claim, which seems

contradicted by the objective evidence. See Hsia (1988) p. 97.


College Confidential, September 16, 2011:


One apparent difficulty in such Asian surname analysis might

be the case of mixed-race individuals with Asian names, but this

difficulty is quite insignificant. First, mixed-race Asians are only

about 15% of the total Asian population, and are excluded from

our Asian statistics for college enrollments. Meanwhile, until

quite recently, the overwhelming majority of marriages between

Asians and non-Asians involved an Asian wife, hence the last

names of any children would tend not to be Asian and would be

excluded from our list analysis. Thus, both our college enrollment

figures and our academic performance estimates tend to

exclude part-Asians and should be fully consistent.


The 2000 Census lists 310,125 Nguyens, or about 1 in 3.6 of the

total Vietnamese population of 1,122,528. Meanwhile, there were

194,067 Kims, representing 1 in 5.5 of the 1,076,872 Koreans.


Weyl (1987) pp. 26-27.


Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom, America in Black and White

(1997) pp. 398-400 provides some racial statistics on the past

distribution of top SAT scores which would strongly support

this conclusion. In 1981, Asians were just 2% of the college-age

population but accounted for over 4% of students with Verbal

scores of 700 or above and 11% of those with Math scores of 750

or above. By 1995, college-age Asians were still just 3% of the

total, but produced over 14% of those high Verbal scores and a

remarkable 28% of the high Math scores. Since Asian-Americans

have now increased to roughly 5% of students of college

age and have also become much more affluent, we would expect

such figures to be far higher today.


Although the primary measure of human “fluid intelligence”—

so-called “g”—is measured consistently across different

groups, for reasons not entirely clear the three principal

subcomponents of Verbal, Mathematical, and Visuospatial

abilities sometimes vary substantially across racial or ethnic

lines. For example, East Asians tend to be especially strong in

Visuospatial ability but much less so in Verbal ability, Jews are

extremely strong in Verbal but mediocre in Visuospatial skills,

while most white Europeans tend to be intermediate in both

these different categories. See Vernon (1982) pp. 20-21, 160-

163, 178-180, 272-277.


Suein Hwang, “The New White Flight,” The Wall Street


, November 19, 2005:



At his 1992 Milwaukee trial, Jeffrey Dahmer freely admitted

torturing, killing, and cannibalizing 17 young men, but vigorously

denied he had selected his mostly black victims out of any

racial bias. In a more typical case, after black Connecticut truck

driver Omar Thornton massacred five of his white co-workers,

the media focused considerable attention on whether they had

been innocent victims or “racists” as Thornton had alleged.


In recent years, the Reading and Writing SAT scores for entering

freshmen at all four universities have been almost identical,

while the Math SAT scores at Caltech have been significantly

higher, as have been the percentages of National Merit Scholars.

See the NCES website: and

Steve Hsu, “Elite Universities and Human Capital Mongering,”

October 10, 2010:



Indeed, the 1988 official register of Harvard, intended for

prospective applicants, actually described the Harvard admissions

process as “complex, subjective, and sometimes difficult

to comprehend.” See Takagi (1992/1998) p. 63.


As Asian applications to the University of California system

grew rapidly during the 1980s, there were major efforts to

replace a simple and objective meritocratic admissions system

with a “holistic” and opaque system, closer to that of the

Ivies, which had the initial effect of sharply reducing Asian

admissions. See Hsia (1988) pp. 106-119, Takagi (1992/1998).

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


However, political resistance by Asian groups in California

and especially the subsequent passage of Proposition 209

eventually overcame these policies.


Earlier this month, a lengthy New York Times article on

Asian admissions issues written by the newspaper’s former

Education Editor argued that the use of objective admissions

standards had caused the Berkeley and UCLA campuses to

become more than half Asian, and suggested that this had led

to adverse social and educational consequences. However, this

claim contains serious factual errors, given that the 2011 Asian

undergraduate enrollments were just 37% and 34% respectively,

and had never come close to half at any point in history.

See Ethan Bronner, “Asian-Americans in the Argument,”


New York Times

, November 4, 2012: http://www.nytimes.




Asians are currently 72% of the students at Stuyvesant and 63%

at Bronx Science, while the latter school was just 20% Asian in

1986. See Kyle Spencer, “For Asians, School Tests Are Vital Steppingstones,”

The New York Times

, October 28, 2012:

test-highlights-a-racial-divide.html and Deborah Anderluh,

“High School for Gifted Kids May Open in L.A.,”


Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

, September 28, 1986: http://www.



In the mid-1980s, charges that anti-Asian discrimination in

the UC system were similar to the old “Jewish quotas” of the

Ivy League quickly provoked television network coverage. See

Takagi (1992/1998) pp. 50-51.


Media coverage played a huge role in influencing the growth

and outcome of the battle over the admissions of Asians to the

UC system. See Takagi (1992/1998) pp.49-51, 74-77, 100-103.


Asian-Americans had 2010 median annual household income of

$66,000, about 22% higher than the white figure and were almost

60% more likely to have graduated from college, in each case

ranking the highest of any racial group. See “The Rise of Asian


Pew Research Center, June 19, 2012: http://www.


In defending Harvard against 1980s accusations of anti-Asian

discrimination in admissions, Dean Fred Jewett made exactly

this point regarding the impact of Asian geographical concentration.

See Takagi (1992/1998) p. 69.


These were exactly the arguments made by a relatively recent

Harvard graduate who had served as Editor-in-Chief of the

Harvard Independent

and also reported on admissions practices.

See Matthew Yglesias, “Harvard and Princeton Clearly

Discriminate Against Asian Applicants; the Question Is

Whether It’s Illegal,”, February 14, 2012: http://www.




Daniel Golden, “Harvard Targeted in U.S. Asian-American Discrimination


Bloomberg News, February 2, 2012: http://

asian-american-discrimination-probe.html; Daniel E. Slotnik,

“Do Asian-Americans Face Bias in Admissions at Elite Colleges?,”

The New York Times

, February 8, 2012: http://thechoice.

in-admissions-at-elite-colleges/; Editorial, “A Ludicrous


The Harvard Crimson, February 8, 2012: http://www.


Dana Vachon, “The Code of the Winklevii,” Vanity Fair,

December 2011:



For decades, comparing and contrasting Asian-Americans

with Jews has been a commonplace in public policy analysis,

given that both groups are small but high-performing minorities

in American society. See, for example, “The Triumph of

Asian-Americans” and “Asians and Jews,” David A. Bell,


New Republic

, July 15-22, 1985 and Michael Barone, The New


(2001) pp. 193-274. Indeed, one-third of Barone’s

book consists of the section entitled “Jews and Asians.” Most

recently, the entire front page of the

Wall Street Journal Weekly

Review section was devoted to exactly this topic; see Lee Siegel,

“Rise of the Tiger Nation,”

Wall Street Journal, October 27-28,




Jewish enrollment estimates for elite universities are summarized

in Appendix D.


Karabel (2005) p. 536.


Since the overwhelming majority of Harvard’s foreign students

are drawn from non-white countries or countries with negligible

Jewish populations, it is likely that nearly all the Jewish students

reported by Hillel are American. However, 6.2% of Harvard

undergraduates refused to report their race in 2011, and many

of these, possibly a majority, may actually be white. This “Race

Unknown” category has typically ranged between 5% and 15%

of Harvard undergraduates over the last couple of decades, with

roughly similar numbers at most other Ivy League schools.


For all these Jewish demographic estimates, see Appendix B.


The combined undergraduate enrollment of the eight Ivy

League universities includes roughly 12,000 Jews, 9,000

Asians, and 13,000 non-Jewish whites, as well as 5,000 students

whose racial background is unknown. The population of

college-age Americans consists of roughly 10 million whites,

including 300,000 Jews, and 800,000 Asians.


Steve Sailer, “National Merit Semifinalists by School

and Name,” September 18, 2010: http://isteve.blogspot.


“The Far East Rises in the West,”, February 29,


west_steve_sailer/print; “More Views on California Surnames

of Semifinalists,” February 29, 2012: http://isteve.blogspot.


Obviously such a Jewish surname analysis would miss the children

of intermarried families in which the husband was non-

Jewish, hence only count half the half-Jews. However, any such

errors introduced are probably small relative to the broader

uncertainty in defining and estimating total Jewish numbers,

the ambiguity in identifying Jewish names, and the likely estimation

errors in the Jewish college enrollment statistics.


Fernanda Santos, “To Be Black at Stuyvesant High,” The

New York Times

, February 25, 2012: http://www.nytimes.


experience.html. In 2012, Asians were 72.5% of Stuyvesant

students, with all whites at just 24%, of whom an unspecified

fraction were Jewish. Charles Murray has noted that in

1954, Jewish children comprised 24/28 or 85% of the highestscoring

students in NYC on a citywide IQ test, although at that

point Jews were probably a little less than 30% of the city’s total

white population, so a similar degree of over-representation at

the local elite academic schools seems plausible. See Charles

Murray, “Jewish Genius,”

Commentary, April 2007.


Weyl (1989) p. 26-27.


Vernon (1982) 160-162, 178-179, 273; Richard Lynn, “The

Intelligence of American Jews,”

Personality and Individual


, January 2004; Margaret E. Backman, “Patterns of


DECEMBE R 2 0 1 2


Mental Abilities: Ethnic, Socioeconomic, and Sex Differences,”

American Educational Research Journal

, Winter 1972.


Evidence that these low Jewish enrollments are due to meritocratic

admissions factors rather than merely lack of possible

applicants may be seen if we compare different UC campuses.

Berkeley and UCLA are the most selective, and at those Jewish

enrollment averages about 9.5% or about one-quarter the

Asian total; meanwhile, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara are

much less selective, and the Jewish percentages are nearly

twice as high and also close to the local Asian figures. Jewish

enrollments are also very substantial at the lower-tier California

State University system, with numbers being much higher

both at CS Northridge than nearby UCLA and at San Diego

State compared to UCSD. Large numbers of Jewish students

also attend the schools in the lowest-tier community college

system as well, such as Pierce College in the San Fernando

Valley. If these Jewish students had had higher academic performance,

most would almost certainly have selected the much

more prestigious University of California campuses.


Kimball A. Milton and Jagdish Mehra, Climbing the Mountain:

The Scientific Biography of Julian Schwinger

, 2003, p. 218.


Weyl (1989) p. 26-27 estimates Jews as having a “performance

coefficient” of 339 on the 1987 NMS semifinalist list. Since

Jews were then approximately 2.4% of the American population,

they would have been roughly 8.1% of the 1987 NMS



David W. Murray, “The War Against Testing,” Commentary,

September 1998.


California contains a large fraction of America’s mainland

Japanese-Americans, who represent approximately 1.1% of the

state’s population, while roughly 0.8% of the state’s NMS semifinalists

have Japanese surnames. However, the older mean

age of this group implies that it probably represents a relatively

reduced fraction of the high school population.


Weyl (1966) pp. 53-54, 83-84.


Most recently, Judge Richard Posner, one of America’s most

highly regarded jurists, made such a claim that Jews have a

mean IQ of 115 on his blog, together with an even more absurd

claim that the same was also true for Asian-Americans. See

“Rating Teachers,” The Becker-Posner Blog, September 23,



. 65 Lynn (2011) pp. 274-278.


Ron Unz, “Race, IQ, and Wealth,” The American Conservative,

August 2012:



For example, the GSS indicates that just 3% of Jews live in

rural areas, a tenth of the overall white rate, while Jews are

over twice as likely to live in major cities or suburbs than the

general white population.


Helmuth Nyborg, “The Intelligence-Religiosity Nexus: A Representative

Study of White Adolescent Americans,”


(2009) pp. 81-93.


See Appendix A.


Sam Roberts, “A Village With the Numbers, Not the Image, of the

Poorest Place,” The New York Times, April 20, 2011:



See Appendix G.


Ron Unz, “Some Minorities Are More Minor Than Others,” The

Wall Street Journal,

November 16, 1998: http://www.ronunz.



Espenshade (2009) p. 113.





Hughes (2003) p. 31. In 2003, roughly 450 students with perfect

SAT scores of 1600 applied to Harvard, and fewer than 200

were accepted. For the 2000 rates, see Steinberg (2002) p. 220,

and for the case of Princeton, see Kim Clark, “Do Elite Private

Colleges Discriminate Against Asian Students?,”

US News &

World Report

, October 7, 2009:




William R. Fitzsimmons, “Guidance Office: Answers From

Harvard’s Dean, Part 2,”

The New York Times, September

11, 2009:



Hughes (2003) 49, 57-58.


Karabel (2005) pp. 292, 311.


Privacy considerations prevent the public release of information

on honors degrees awarded to graduates, but the top

10% of each Harvard class is inducted into Phi Beta Kappa,

the national honors society, and the university’s PBK rosters

of the last fifty years are available on the Internet: http://

page189954. Thirty or forty years ago, Jewish names were

very common on the PBK lists, but more recently they have

dropped to fairly low levels. It appears that Harvard’s non-

Jewish whites are now perhaps five times as likely as their

Jewish classmates to achieve such high academic performance,

with Asian students doing nearly as well. See Appendix G.

In recent years, Jewish conservatives have often been in

the forefront of accusations that ethnic favoritism leads elite

academic institutions to unfairly admit large numbers of

blacks and Hispanics, who subsequently underperform once

on campus. But perhaps such critics should consider looking

into a mirror.


Karabel (2005) p. 667n95.


Harvard’s most recent presidents have been Neil Rudenstine

(1991-2001), Larry Summers (2001-2006), and Drew Faust

(2007-present); the first two were of Jewish ancestry, while

the last has been married to Charles E. Rosenberg since 1980.

Richard Levin has served as president of Yale since 1993, as

did Harold Shapiro at Princeton (1988-2001), while the current

presidents of Penn and Cornell are Amy Gutmann (2004-present),

and David Skorton (2006-present) respectively, all of Jewish

origins, as is Yale’s newly named incoming president Peter

Salovey. In addition, former NYC Mayor Ed Koch identified

Columbia President Lee Bollinger (2002-present) as being of

Jewish ancestry in an angry column regarding Iran, but I have

been unable to independently verify that claim. See Ed Koch,

“Columbia Prez Should Have Stood Up for America, Too,”


World Review

, September 26, 2007.


Princeton’s last seven provosts have been Neil Rudenstine

(1977-1987), Paul Benacerraf (1988-1991), Hugo Sonnenschein

(1991-1993), Stephen Goldfeld (1993-1995), Jeremiah Ostriker

(1995-2001), Amy Guttmann (2001-2004), and Christopher

Eisgruber (2004-present), and all were of Jewish ancestry. Four

of Harvard’s last five provosts have had similar ethnicity, as

well as three of three at Brown and two of five at Yale, including

in each case the current officeholder.


Fox Butterfield, “Harvard’s ‘Core’ Dean Glances Back,” The

New York Times

, June 2, 1984.


See Appendix D. It is also curious that the weighty 1998

defense of preferential ethnic admissions policies at elite

institutions written by former Harvard President Derek Bok

and former Princeton President William G. Bowen contains

no mention whatsoever of the widespread claims of anti-Asian

D E C EMB E R 2 0 1 2


discrimination at their own institutions, and does not even include

a single reference to “Jews” in their very detailed index.

See Bowen (1998).


Three of Caltech’s most recent six presidents have been Harold

Brown (1969-1977), Marvin Goldberger (1978-1987), and

David Baltimore (1997-2006), all of Jewish ancestry. Two of

MIT’s most recent five presidents have been Jerome Wiesner

(1971–1980) and Leo Reif (2012–present), who have the same

ethnic background.


Espenshade (2009) pp. 92-93.


Espenshade (2009) p. 126.


Steinberg (2002/2012) pp. 124-136, 219-220.


Steinberg (2002/2012) pp. 27-38, 204-210, 243-252.


Steinberg (2002/2012) pp. 38-47, 173-195, 256-257.


Steinberg (2002/2012) pp. 258-261, 281-282, 298-299.


For example, Harvard President Derek Bok once denigrated

the compensatory rational for affirmative action, instead

praising “diversity” as “the hallmark” and the “core” of a

university experience. As a positive instance of such “diversity,”

he cited the benefits of enrolling a friend of his who had

served as a captain of the women’s track team, and came from

a background wealthy enough that she celebrated her birthday

with a trip to Italy. See Kahlenberg (1996) p. 29.


See Howard Kurtz, “College Faculties A Most Liberal Lot,

Study Finds,”

The Washington Post, March 29, 2005: http://

html; Emily Esfahani Smith, “Survey Shocker: Liberal profs

admit they’d discriminate against conservatives in hiring,


The Washington Times, August 1, 2012: http://

campus-yes-were-biased/; Eric Alterman, “Think Again:

Jews Are Still Liberal,”

The Center for American Progress, April

19, 2012:



Steinberg (2002/2012) p. 9.


Steinberg (2002/2012) pp. 181-182.


Golden (2006) p. 60.


Steinberg (2002/2012) pp. 282-284.


Steinberg (2002/2012) pp. xiii, 130-131.


See Appendix D.


Steinberg (2002/2012) pp. 59-63, 265-266.


Hughes (2003) p. 86, 202.


Hernandez (1997) pp. 1-5. She suggests that the Harvard is

the only Ivy League university in which a majority of the

Admissions Officers tend to have an Ivy League background.


Steinberg (2002) p. 131, 177-178.


Joseph Carroll, “Public Overestimates U.S. Black and Hispanic


Gallup News Service, June 4, 2001.



Razib Khan, “How Many Minorities Are There in the USA?,”

Discover Magazine/GNXP Blog

, January 7, 2012: http://blogs.



Grey Matter Research Consulting, September 13, 2012


Dean Lawrence R. Velvel of the Masschusetts School of Law

interviewing Prof. Jerome Karabel on “Books of Our Time,” a

public affairs show. The remarks described appear in the last

nine minutes of the second hour segment. Hour One: http://;

Hour Two:.



“Sharp Drop in Jewish Enrollment at Princeton U. Stirs


The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 7, 1999;

Ben Gose, “Princeton Tries to Explain a Drop in Jewish Enrollment,”

The Chronicle of Higher Education

, May 14, 1999;

Caroline C. Pam, “Enrollment of Jews at Princeton Drops

by 40% in 15 Years,”

The New York Observer, May 31, 1999;

Karen W. Arenson, “Princeton Puzzle: Where Have Jewish

Students Gone?,”

The New York Times, June 2, 1999. It should

be noted that Princeton’s president at the time was Harold

Shapiro, of Jewish ancestry, and just a few years earlier, the

university had opened a $4.5 million Center for Jewish Life.

See Synnott (1979/2010) p. xxvi-xxvii.


See William Lind, “The Origins of Political Correctness,”

February 5, 2000, Accuracy in Academia: http://www.academia.

org/the-origins-of-political-correctness/. Nearly all the

figures mentioned were of Jewish origins.


As discussed earlier, the recent accusations of Harvard

racial discrimination from a rejected Asian applicant were

denounced as “ludicrous” and “surreal” by the student editors

of the

Harvard Crimson, who emphasized the tremendous importance

of affirmative action policies in maintaining student

ethnic “diversity” at elite colleges and pointed out that Asians

were anyway already over-represented by 200% relative to

their portion of the American population. It so happens that

the two top names on the

Crimson masthead both came from

an ethnic group over-represented at Harvard by nearly 1300%.


For example, Bowen (1998) p. 37-39 attempts to compare the

academic strength of black students admitted under affirmative

action policies with the bottom decile of admitted white

students, as a proxy for those whites rejected under affirmative

action, and notes that the gap is smaller than often believed.

The authors, former presidents of Harvard and Princeton, also

emphasize that the crucial factor is to ensure that all admitted

are above a high academic threshold and able to reasonably

perform the work in question (p. 23). One obvious problem

with this analysis is that if elite universities admit many underqualified

white students based on favoritism or corruption,

these would constitute the bottom decile in question, and the

comparison made would merely highlight this fact.


Karabel (2005) p. 292.


Klitgaard (1985) pp. 23-30.


Hughes (2003) pp. 15, 49, 56. Also, in 1990 Harvard officials

told federal investigators that 80-90% of applicants could

probably do the academic work and 50-60% could do superb

work. See Takagi (1992/1998) p. 194.


Lemann (1999) pp. 206-207.


Examples of the extreme effort students take in building their

resumes for elite college admissions purposes are discussed

throughout Newport (2010) and Harvard Crimson Editors



See for example Austin Bramwell, “Top of the Class,” The

American Conservative

, March 13, 2012: http://www.theamericanconservative.



Quoted in Heather Higgins, “Remembering James Q.


US News and World Report, March 5, 2012: http://



The quota provisions of the 1924 Immigration Act were based

on the national origins of the existing American population

and therefore required a detailed analysis of existing

ethnicities, and the totals for 1920 are presented in Madison


Conquest of a Continent (1933) pp. 278-280. Around

that time, well over one-third of all Americans were of British

ancestry, 80 percent were Protestant, and 85% of whites had

origins in Northwestern Europe.

120 Quoted in Kahlenberg (1996) p. 115.


  1. Anonymous2/11/2013

    This is poorly formatted, and therefore I could not read much of it.

    "Finance remains the employment of choice for Harvard" and Princeton grads, etc. Right - to screw people out of their money.

  2. Anonymous2/11/2013

    I can't help but notice the the uber liberal class that is so worried about racial equality is really only worried about one color. Green.
    What a bunch of frauds. That's academia of today. Please watch what your children are doing in school. You really have no idea........

  3. Anonymous2/12/2013

    This seems to be deep but after you read it, it makes sense. I wish people would read this and comment.

  4. Buirke2/12/2013

    I read it, basically education ans staus only pays for those who belong to the club!