Ask A Genius 511 – Affirmative Action for the Rich (2)

In-Sight Publishing

Ask A Genius 511 – Affirmative Action for the Rich (2)

March 13, 2019

[Beginning of recorded material]

Rick Rosner: Let me say a few things about college admissions in America, which are a mess.

Thing one is, there are many more highly qualified students who want to go to highly selective schools than there are openings in highly selective schools. Most Ivies only admit roughly 1,800 kids a year.

Even though, they have $40 billion endowments and could afford to slowly expand the class size by 2% a year. I do not think the expansion does 2% per year. The total number of people and the spots at the Ivies plus Stanford might be roughly 22,000 spots.

There are 50,000 highly qualified kids who are aiming for those spots. So, no matter how you set your admission criteria at these schools. Somebody is going to get fucked over. Right now, the people getting fucked over are Asians.

Because if you did unbiased admissions, that is, if you did not look at the kid’s name and just looked at the kid’s grades, scores, recommendations, without regard to ethnicity or background, 40% of the classes at highly selective schools would be Asian.

Schools want diversity, which means various things to various schools. But in practice, it means that Asians have to perform much better than everybody else to get into a lot of these schools.

It is similarly in the interest of fairness and diversity with people from a variety of backgrounds and statuses do not have to perform as well on the raw measures, on the raw qualifications.

But the bottom line is that somebody is always going to get fucked over because there are twice as many students going for these spots with 12 AP classes, parents hiring consultants, getting well-rounded extras, writing 7 drafts of their essays, and so on, to try to get into the universities.

That is the major problem: not enough spots. To argue about whether those spots are really worth it, to get into one of these highly selective schools, because if you work hard, you can get a good education at any of the decent schools.

I think there are roughly 6,000 colleges in the US. Although, that number may be off by a few thousand. That means that there are couple thousand colleges in America that don’t entirely suck at the very least.

If you work hard at any of these schools, you can get a good education. However, what you do get at the elite colleges are connections, you’re going to school with the best and the brightest.

People who have a much better chance of succeeding post-college. If you’re among them, you’re going to be connected to them, and that will be wildly helpful later on in life for them.

If you go on LinkedIn, and if you look at the people who are highly successful in your field, odds are that you will see a lot of people who went to Columbia and the other Ivies. It is part of a successful trajectory.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner

American Television Writer


Rick Rosner

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing


In-Sight Publishing


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License and Copyright

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at and


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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