Mr. Marx says Amherst does put a thumb on the scale to give poor students more credit for a given SAT score. Not everyone will love that policy. “Spots at these places are precious,” he notes. But I find it tough to argue that a 1,300 score for most graduates of Phillips Exeter Academy — or most children of Amherst alumni — is as impressive as a 1,250 for someone from McDowell County, W.Va., or the South Bronx.
About a decade ago, the press got worked up over how Caltech had only zero or one black student in its freshman class. "Look how many blacks MIT has!" It never occurred to the pundits that if Caltech were harangued into getting more black students, they'd just wind up spending a fortune to take some away from MIT. Nobody ever gets that. The assumption is that Caltech should merely create more Caltech-type black high school seniors.