In recent years, the SAT scores of white applicants to U.S. colleges and universities have been, on average, about 200 points higher than those of their black counterparts. Nonetheless, black students have been admitted to virtually all academically competitive schools at much higher rates than whites. At Amherst College in 1995, for instance, 51 percent of black applicants were admitted vs. just 19 percent of white applicants. At Rice University that same year, the corresponding numbers were 52 percent and 25 percent for blacks and whites, respectively. At Bowdoin College, the figures were 70 percent and 30 percent. In their 1998 book The Shape of the River, Ivy League professors William Bowen and Derek Bok report that at five of America's most elite universities, black applicants whose SAT scores fell within the 1200 to 1249 range had a 60 percent chance of admission, whereas whites with similar scores had just a 19 percent chance.
At medical schools the situation is much the same. The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) scores of blacks who are accepted are actually lower than those of whites who are rejected. At the University of Maryland Medical School in 2000, blacks with college GPAs of B or B+ and MCAT scores in the bottom half of all test-takers had a 70 percent chance of admission; for whites and Asians of similar credentials, the chance was 2 percent.
At America's top law schools, blacks are admitted at fully 17 times the rate that a colorblind process would allow. At UCLA Law School in 1994, a black applicant with a college GPA between 2.5 and 3.5, and an LSAT score between 60 and 90, had a 61 percent chance of admission. The corresponding rates for similarly qualified Asians and whites were 7 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Consider also Texas Law School, which in 1992 rejected 668 white applicants before rejecting a single black. Fully 100 percent of blacks who scored between 189 and 192 in the school’s academic rating system were admitted, as compared to just 6 percent of whites.
It should also be noted that affirmative action has occasionally been applied to favor whites over blacks. In 1995, for example, a federal judge ordered Alabama State University (ASU), which was virtually all black, to spend $1 million per year on scholarships for white applicants only so as to attract students whose presence would "diversify" the ASU campus. Consequently, in the 1996-1997 school year ASU gave out 671 scholarships to white students -- one for almost every white who enrolled. As a general rule, affirmative action tends to lower standards for its beneficiaries, and ASU was no exception. To be eligible for many of these white scholarships, students needed only a C average, and in some cases were not even required to have earned a high-school diploma.