U of Michigan adds “diversity” essay

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In response to the Supreme Court’s decision essentially upholding quotas (but not the 20-point bonus for "underrepresented" minorities), the University of Michigan is replacing with the 20-point bonus with something I see as even worse: a required essay that students must write on diversity.

Students will have the choice between two prompts:

"At the University of Michigan, we are committed to buiding an academically superb and widely diverse educational community. What would you as an individual bring to our campus community?"
"Describe an experience you’ve had where cultural diversity–or a lack therof–has made a difference to you."

Not only did the Michigan decision do practically nothing to erode affirmative action, it has made things worse, at least at the University of Michigan. Now students are going to be forced to write an additional essay that essentially must be from a leftist perspective (could anyone seriously write a non-leftist response to these questions and not get hurt in admissions)?

See the full story at the LA Times (registration required).


  1. This is sad. If this trend keeps up, the SAT/ACT/GPA (you know, instruments that actually have predicitive validity) are no longer even going to be looked at. We recently had a speaker on campus who said the ACT reuirement should be lowered to 9 for certain minorities so more coudl be admitted. What’s the point? The ACT has no purpose if the cutoff is 9. Similarlay, what’s the point of this essay? It’s not to see the eloquence in which a applicant can produce his/her thoughts (which would have some predicitve ability for college success), but to admit a more homogenous group of folk…which runs contrary to the purpose of “diversity” to begin with.

  2. 9!!!!

    you are shitting me. you have to be.

  3. “If this trend keeps up, the SAT/ACT/GPA (you know, instruments that actually have predicitive validity) are no longer even going to be looked at”

    If that happens, college degrees will mean nothing in the labor market and might become irrelevant, e.g. no more leftist professors bitching in your ear and no more tens of thousands of dollars plus four years of your life down the drain. Let’s hear it for “diversity”!!

  4. Colleges have been forcing essays like this on their potential students for years. I’m trying to come up with something for a University of Chicago – Pritzker School of Medicine essay right now that asks about an “extraordinary hardship” I’ve overcome in my life (i.e. handicap or discrimination). UM’s essay is just a more direct form of that.

    There was a story a year or two ago about a student who wrote his college essay on his struggle to come out of the closet. All the admissions offices were raving over the guy. It was only after he was fully registered that the college found out he was straight.

    And people wonder why a bachelor’s degree only buys what a high school diploma used to. I think Duende is right about the outcome – every degree will be meaningless.

  5. every degree will be meaningless

    …and stardardized tests will have to weed the dumb degree holders from the smart ones. rich.

  6. I can’t quite agree that every degree will be meaningless. I do think it will come to looking at majors though. It has been my experience that some majors are much tougher and have a much higher bar than others. I doubt physics, math, statistics, etc. are in danger of having their degrees becoming meaningless. The contnet matter and requirements of such degrees automatically weed those who are incompotent. Unfortunatly, this cannot be said for many other majors.

  7. I’m not sure that the sciences are immune, I’m a biology major, and I’ve seen quite a few classes where the curves were exorbitant. In my Organic Chemistry I and II classes, a 55 counted as a B-, and a 60 was a B! And the B range extended from that 55 to past 80, punishing smarter students by grouping them with those who had performed worse (the grades ranged from 20 to 100, so it wasn’t as if it was a necessary move). But then again, I still had classes with no curves what-so-ever, so it might be balanced out for some time if enough professors hold out and don’t listen to their student evaluations.

  8. I should have mentioned that the 55 score was the average on the exams, with about 150 students represented. 2/3rds of the class received A’s and B’s as their final grades. This was at a State University that is trying to start its own Medical School.

  9. What is the approximate SAT equivalent of a 9 on the ACT ? Even better if someone can give me a pre-recentering SAT equivalent . (I took it in 1991)

    Supposing that U of Michigan goes ahead and admits more boatloads of incompetent people , won’t the school end up killing its reputation (I believe that it has a pretty good one right now)?
    The administration seems hell-bent on drastically lowering the quality of the student body, so excellent professors will eventually become frustrated and leave.
    In even greater numbers, promising new academics will avoid U of Michigan and instead opt for institutions (that may not even exist yet) where the student population’s quality is much higher.

    Surely there are schools that will pop out and whose selling point will be that they don’t care at all about diversity but exclusively about excellence.
    Would a school that publically dismissed diversity be legal ?

  10. “As these…[universities] feed off tax dollars, they should be required to publish exact statistics on the religious and ethnic composition of all faculties and student bodies and the percentage of student slots chosen by methods other than merit — and identify those methods.

    Next, they should indicate, by ethnic group and religion, who lost out when slots went to preferred minorities, whether ethnic or the children of faculty members or alumni.  We know who the beneficiaries are of this discrimination. Let’s see its victims” (Patrick J. Buchanan, “Our Self-Selecting Elite”).

    Godless, would you agree with Buchanan?

  11. if you want to see what might happen to U of Michigan-see CUNY, ‘the poor man’s harvard’ back when there were jew quotas @ the ivies.

    i think a good measure of the difficulty of a major is average G.P.A., last i checked, chemical engineering had the lowest. math is pretty low too. here is another interesting note, my alma mater, a third tierish state school had the following cut-offs for “honors” G.P.A’s by major, 3.8 for general science, 3.7 for biology, 3.0 for chemistry, physics & math. to be fair to biology, that is a major where it seems where you can design the difficulty of your major-load up with “soft” courses and you can slide through, bulk up on more molecular & mathematical courses, and you actually have to study.

    the key with the sciences is that people fail. the professors & departments have no choice, some people flunk. additionally, they probably worry about liability issues if they graduate civil engineers that couldn’t really hack it and bridges start collapsing….

    P.S. on the issue of medical schools, a friend of mine who knows a doctor who was on and admissions board asserts that engineering graduates can get in with far lower G.P.A’s than a biology major.

  12. Affirmative action programs that grant preferences to lesser qualified blacks and Hispanics rather than to better qualified non-Hispanic whites could be described as programs that favor Democrats over Republicans (see Patrick J. Buchanan’s “The Dispossession of Christian Americans”).

    “And with immigration…increasing the share of the citizenry that is black and Hispanic, this means an endless ratcheting up of black and Hispanic demands for proportional representation. And, as Unz has pointed out, these demands are invariably met at the expense of white Christians” (Patrick J. Buchanan, “The Dispossession of Christian Americans”).

    Asian Americans and Jewish Americans are also negatively affected by affirmative action.  See
    “Discrimination at Harvard?”

  13. Correction.

    Some Asian Americans and Jewish Americans are also negatively affected by affirmative action preferences for blacks and Hispanics.  See
    “Discrimination at Harvard?”

  14. Proborders, one critique I have with Griffe is that I don’t think his data accurately assesses Asian-Indians or other subcontinentals. I think GC has remarked on this before, and I was hoping Griffe would rectify the situation (granted the article was from ’99).

  15. “Describe an experience you’ve had where cultural diversity–or a lack therof–has made a difference to you.”

    I attended a predominantly Black high school. Of 600 graduates in the class of ’68 only a couple dozen were White or Asian.

    It made a big difference to me. None of the ways it changed me (I don’t appreciate fine wines, I carry a knife, I coped with the poverty I passed thru when first married) would make me appear more suitable to the diversity apparatus.

  16. P.S. on the issue of medical schools, a friend of mine who knows a doctor who was on and admissions board asserts that engineering graduates can get in with far lower G.P.A’s than a biology major.

    I am a business school professor and the same is true for business schools — graduates in engineering get in with lower GPAs.

    Also, with regard to UC stats (buried deep on their websites), there are stats that show (surprise) that students admitted with lower SAT scores are less likely to finish. Moreover, even these statistics don’t factor in the majors the students with lower SAT scores choose (various women studies and ethnic studies majors are often among the easiest choices on campus). Most universities just don’t seem to think that educational preparation matters at all (much less intelligence). I believe that many of the students admitted with lower schools are not well served. They are more likely to have done better at a school that is a better match to their preparation.

  17. What can a white female from an upper middle class suburb write on a college essay about how she will make the college more diverse? I think each person is an individual and therefore each person, regardless of race or difficulties adds to diversity. But, back to the question. This student has a 3.7 GPA and high ACTs, but what can a person like this write to impress universities like U of Michigan and U of Illinois? Unfortunately, her parents have done all the right things to prepare her for college. Any thoughts?

  18. College essays are not an accurate factor for admissions. Most people just write them because they have to. They don’t really put much effort into them. Essays are a hassle for the student and for the admissions people.

    F.Y.I. quite a few universitys dont even require essays, sweet.