Why preferences in college admissions may yield a more-able student body
Critics of affirmative action policies contend that the elimination of racial preferences in college admissions would lead to a "more-able" student body. We develop a simple model comprised of three classes of college admissions--merit, race and legacy--to show that it is possible that a change in admissions policy that reduces racial preferences leads to a "less-able" student body. The change in admissions policy may serve only to ensure that more admissions are available for "sale" to wealthy alumni through legacy preferences. In other words, when there are multi-dimensional preferences, reducing or eliminating one dimension of preferences may lead to the unforeseen consequence of producing a "less able" student body.
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