Report Accuses Colleges of Admissions Bias Officials Say No One Assured They'll Get In

By MacDonald, Mary | The Florida Times Union, February 14, 1999 | Go to article overview

Report Accuses Colleges of Admissions Bias Officials Say No One Assured They'll Get In


MacDonald, Mary, The Florida Times Union


In Florida, where several hundred people each year vie for a few hundred seats in the state medical and law schools, admissions are highly selective.

In the interests of diversity, are they also weighted in favor of minority applicants, particularly African-Americans?

A report by a former professor of government at Florida State University, who examined 20,000 records, contends that professional schools rely too heavily on race in admissions decisions, to the disadvantage of white applicants.

Thomas Dye, executive director of the Tallahassee-based Lincoln Center for Public Service and the Florida Association of Scholars, reached his conclusion after examining entrance exam scores, undergraduate grade point averages and the race of applicants who were either denied or accepted.

The deans of the state medical and law schools have challenged his assertions as simplistic and flawed, that he ignores other factors that universities consider when choosing among applicants.

Dye found the odds of students getting accepted to law school at Florida State or the University of Florida changed dramatically, depending on race, given the same undergraduate grades and score on the Law School Admission Test.

With a 3.0 grade point average and a score of 155 on the LSAT (out of 160), the report found the probability of acceptance for white students to be 14 percent; Hispanic students, 48 percent; and black students, 91 percent.

In medical school admissions, Dye found that black applicants had a better chance of acceptance at every level.

With a 4.0 GPA, black applicants had a 63 percent chance of acceptance, compared with 39 percent for white applicants and 33 percent for Hispanic applicants.

The difference in the profiles of accepted students shows that race is a significant factor in admissions decisions, at least as important as scores on a standardized entrance exam or undergraduate record, he said.

"The discrepancy goes well beyond any recognition of disadvantage," Dye said.

But in examining only grade point averages, the report ignores differences in quality among universities and in the rigor of courses completed by applicants as undergraduates, said Richard Matasar, dean of the law school at UF. …

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