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May 08, 2012


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Orin Kerr

I'm not sure I would say there is a relationship between U.S. News peer assessment scores and percentages of African-American students. It seems more accurate to say that two of the top three schools have somewhat higher percentages of African American students -- something like 11%, instead of 6-8%. If that's right, I would think the explanation likely lies in the unique place in the hierarchy of the very top schools, either in terms of admissions policies, scholarship policies, or the rates at which offers are accepted (or some combination). Put another way, if we're thinking of cause and effect, presumably the #1 or #2 position causes the enrollment numbers, rather than vice-versa.

Alfred Brophy

I think you're right, Orin, that the more elite schools are better able to recruit African American students than the less elite schools. Enrollment reflects, I suspect, the revealed preferences of highly sought-after African American students. If that's true, that may tell us something about schools' desirability and perceived quality.

Orin Kerr

Glad we agree, Al. If the end goal is to suggest that you can use minority enrollment in the rankings because it reveals perceptions of school quality, though, I am not convinced. We know the schools' desirability and perceived quality already, so I don't think it makes sense to look for some other criteria with a non-zero correlation to that known factor and then to use that criteria to estimate the factor we know. (If that makes sense.)

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