Probability of First-Time Freshman Admission by Race and Gender at a Large Predominantly White Land Grant Research University in the Years 1994-1998


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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this study was to investigate the probability that race was a factor in the admissions process at Virginia Tech. The study was conducted in three parts. In the first part, logistic regression was used to develop a probability of admission model for eight demographically distinct groups for the years 1994-1998 using information that was presented to the university by all first-time freshman applicants considering grade point average (GPA), scholastic aptitude tests (SAT), high school rank (HSR), requested major (RM), gender and race. The eight demographic groups were: African American men (BM), African American women (BF), Asian American men (AM), Asian American women (AF), Hispanic American men (HM), Hispanic American women (HF), white American men (WM), and white American women (WF). The Bonferroni correction and the Wald tests were carried out to determine significance in the observed differences.

Significant differences were found. The two African American groups and the white female group were found to have significantly higher probabilities of getting accepted than other groups while the two Asian groups were found to have the least probability of getting accepted. The null hypothesis that there was no difference between the groups with regard to probability of getting accepted was thus rejected. GPA was found to be the most important admission criteria followed by SAT scores. The admissions criteria were found to be important for all applicants regardless of group membership. Between group differences detected in the study was mainly the result of differences in cut-off points.

The second part of the study involved evaluating the reasons that were given for rejection of admission in 1998. A stratified sample of 400 was randomly selected. The chi-square test was used to determine if there were differences between the eight groups with regard to reasons given for rejection. The frequency with which the reasons were given was also examined. It was found that there were no differences between the groups and, therefore, the null hypothesis was confirmed. GPA related reasons were the most cited for rejection followed by SAT scores. This was consistent with the finding in the first part of this study that GPA and SAT were the most important admission criteria

In the third part of the study, the director of admissions and the deputy director of admissions for freshman admissions were interviewed. It was determined from them that affirmative action did not influence the university's admissions decisions but that race was "one of the many factors considered during the admissions process."

Based upon the finding in the first part of this study that the two African American groups consistently had the highest probabilities of acceptance in the five years under study, it was concluded that the use of race was intended to benefit applicants from the two groups. This conclusion was further based on the information collected from the interview with the admissions officers which suggested that Affirmative action in the state of Virginia applied only to African Americans and also that there were targeted goals in the state intended to increase the number of African Americans in the state's public higher education institutions. The admissions officers could, however, not provide any references to support this information. Consultations with a professor at the university and the university's vice president for multicultural affairs suggested that there was no state mandate or requirement that public institutions in the state adopt targeted goals as a means of increasing the number of African Americans in the state's public higher education institutions. They also doubted that affirmative action could be applied to one ethnic group only. It was concluded, however, that since the admissions officers made these assertions during the interview, these perceived state requirements may have led them to deliberately seek to increase the number of African American students accepted by the university and that these deliberate efforts may have been behind the high probabilities of the acceptance of students from the two African American groups.

The fact that the admissions officers may have deliberately sought to increase the number of African Americans on the campus to satisfy perceived state mandates or requirements and the finding in the first part of this study that the two African American groups consistently had the highest probabilities of getting accepted by the university in the five years under study suggested that admission to the university was not race blind. It was also concluded that since external pressure may have been the cause of the high probabilities for the African American groups, admission to the university was not entirely the prerogative of the university.



probability of admission, Education, Higher, affirmative action, diversity, college admissions