New Study Finds That Blacks Admitted Under Affirmative Action Do Better in College Than Legacies Who Receive Admissions Preferences

Proponents of race-sensitive admissions programs often make the point that most colleges and universities give admissions preferences to athletes and legacies who otherwise would not be admitted. Therefore, the position is that there is nothing wrong in giving a leg up to black applicants who historically have not been given a fair shake in the admissions process.

Now two sociologists at Princeton University have found that students who received admissions preferences because of their ancestors’ relationship with the institution are more likely to run into academic trouble than African Americans who were admitted under affirmative action admissions programs. They say that legacy admits whose SAT scores and high school grade point averages are far below the mean for all entering students are more likely to get poor grades in college than black students admitted under race-sensitive admissions. The study also found that at the colleges and universities where legacy admits seem to have the most advantage, the dropout rates for legacies are the highest.

In contrast, blacks who received admissions preferences did not have similar levels of poor grades and were just as likely as other blacks to stay in college and earn a degree.

The study, which is published in the journal Social Problems, did find that at the selective colleges they surveyed, 77 percent of black students were the beneficiaries of affirmative action whereas 48 percent of all legacies benefited from admissions preferences.