As Heather MacDonald points out in the National Review Online, an L.A. Times story from Aug. 16, 2013 is a good case study illustrating my colleague Rick Sander’s mismatch effect thesis. The article is about Kashawn Campbell, who sounds like an immensely appealing and studious young man who has been failed by the system, most recently by UC Berkeley’s attempt to get more black and Hispanic students via “a statewide program to attract top students from every public California high school.” Campbell had done very well at an extremely low-performing Los Angeles high school, and was admitted to Cal — for which he was apparently academically unprepared:
The first essay for the writing class that accounted for half of his course load was so bad his teacher gave him a “No Pass.” Same for the second essay….
At Cal, he was among the hardest workers in the dorm, but he could barely keep afloat.
Seeking help, he went at least once a week to the office of his writing instructor, Verda Delp.
The more she saw him, the more she worried. His writing often didn’t make sense. He struggled to comprehend the readings for her class and think critically about the text.
“It took awhile for him to understand there was a problem,” Delp said. “He could not believe that he needed more skills. He would revise his papers and each time he would turn his work back in having complicated it. The paper would be full of words he thought were academic, writing the way he thought a college student should write, using big words he didn’t have command of.”
Is it really a great service to Campbell to admit him to UC Berkeley? His black classmate Spencer seemed to be thriving there, apparently (judging by the [...]