Started by lkanneg, Sep 13, 2005, 04:26 PM
Adding the numbers over two years, Runge found that 70% of the school's boys were admitted early to favored schools, compared with 55% of girls. The differences aren't explained by boys' grades, activities or performance on admissions tests. Rather, what Runge came across is a new form of affirmative action quietly used by many colleges: admissions preferences awarded to boys to maintain balance at a time when more girls than boys attend college -- and have stronger academic qualifications.
In fact, colleges routinely manipulate their admissions criteria to attract the students they believe will create the best mix. That's why talented athletes often have lower average grades and test scores than their classmates, and why children of alumni and generous donors get favored treatment.
But affirmative action programs for boys raise legal questions. The preference programs that some colleges use to expand the number of minority students they admit are under review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Some lawyers say that if the high court bans the practices that colleges use to foster racial diversity, they will use the decision to challenge the legality of admissions preferences for gender balance. That would have important implications for colleges quietly committed to ensuring that males don't become increasingly scarce on college campuses.
According to USA TODAY research and interviews with both admissions directors and college consultants, private, four-year colleges routinely accept boys over girls who have better applications. The data colleges provide for surveys and guidebooks show male applicants' chances of being accepted are often three to 10 percentage points higher than girls'. At Pomona College in California, for example, 35% of male applicants are accepted, compared with 24% of female applicants, according to U.S. News & World Report data for the class of 2005. At Brown University in Rhode Island, 18% of male applicants get in vs. 15% of females.
If colleges lose the flexibility to consider those factors, they would face an awkward dilemma. They would be free to continue adjusting their admissions standards to accept star athletes, gifted musicians and children of alumni or generous donors. But they would lose the latitude to make admissions decisions that guarantee a rich mixture of students that improves the education process, enhances campus life and better prepares students for today's diverse society.