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Does being an ethnic minority help you get into law school?

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Basically- do you have a better chance than the average if you are not white

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17 minutes ago, Yabbie said:

Basically- do you have a better chance than the average if you are not white

Maybe. Depends on a bunch of factors. If you’re a borderline candidate at a holistic school and there aren’t other diverse applicants with better stats than you who are vying for a seat, then perhaps it could get you in. 

But if you’re asking whether you can get in with stats quite lower than the competitive pool because you’re not white, the answer is probably no. 

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Yeah I don't think Canada has URM admission categories like in the States. All else being equal, I have not heard of a visible minority getting in with substantially lower stats than their white counterparts.

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1 hour ago, Yabbie said:

Basically- do you have a better chance than the average if you are not white

Is this a serious question???

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1 minute ago, providence said:

Is this a serious question???

It is not that unreasonable, since applications ask for it one can reason that they do something with the information other than just collect it for fun.

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The answer is yes if you are aboriginal, otherwise probably not. 

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, clevermoose said:

It is not that unreasonable, since applications ask for it one can reason that they do something with the information other than just collect it for fun.

But what does “better chance than the average” even mean? Average white person? Average stats? What is being compared here? How would you know if someone got in due to their race?

Edited by providence
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10 minutes ago, providence said:

But what does “better chance than the average” even mean? Average white person? Average stats? What is being compared here? How would you know if someone got in due to their race?

I agree the question was vague, and difficult to answer without being inside the head of the admissions board. All I think is that they would not ask for it if it was irrelevant to their decision, so they probably factor it into an application somehow? Certainly can't imagine that being a minority would counteract a low LSAT or GPA though. 

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4 minutes ago, clevermoose said:

I agree the question was vague, and difficult to answer without being inside the head of the admissions board. All I think is that they would not ask for it if it was irrelevant to their decision, so they probably factor it into an application somehow? Certainly can't imagine that being a minority would counteract a low LSAT or GPA though. 

It may be relevant, but so may be a number of other factors, and we don’t know how they are weighted or whether they are more common in one group than another or whether other systemic issues faced by some minority groups are sufficiently counteracted by any benefit they may get from declaring their identity. There also may be people who don’t declare it at all, and I don’t think every school even does ask for it. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, providence said:

But what does “better chance than the average” even mean? Average white person? Average stats? What is being compared here? How would you know if someone got in due to their race?

Yes, you're right. It's impossible to seek this information without using language that is likely to offend people - certainly likely to offend you - and so sooner than ask the question at all and risk speaking in these terms, it's better to pretend information is simply non-existent and/or unknowable. Because that's obviously better.

You know, I think the OP's question is stupid. But I think responses of this nature are even more stupid. Of course every kind of decision-making is shrouded in uncertainty, and comparisons are necessarily imperfect. But if someone wants to know if being a visible minority is or is not an advantage of any sort in application to law school, it's not inherently an invalid question. And it shouldn't need to be couched in three paragraphs of context ("of course I know that any perceived consideration given to visible minorities is not really reflective of lower admissions standards but only a necessary and still insufficient correction for the disadvantages they have faced in the course of ...." etc. etc. etc.) And baiting someone into speaking in ever-more racially charged terms (which is what you were trying to do) just so you can spring an ultimate "gotcha!" at the end is not helpful.

Let me expose just how ridiculous and slanted your inquiry really is. Does white privilege exist? If yes, what is it being compared with? And if you are suggesting there are white people, anywhere, who owe some of what they have to this privilege, how would you know if they obtained any particular benefit due to their race?

Something either exists or it doesn't. People who want to deny the existence of white privilege generally try to make the whole thing so difficult to talk about that everyone gives up, so they can go back to pretending it doesn't exist and hasn't affected anything at all. I'm honestly kinda surprised to see you deploying exactly the same tactic from the other side.

Edited by Diplock
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I'm not sure how much of a difference it makes practically, but it is an application category at a few schools. I would say if you are a member of a historically disadvantaged group and you are applying, then apply as such. It may make a difference, though let's hope not in a negative way 😬.

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Even the term "URM" in the States only seems to cover black and Indigenous students. I've seen it pondered that being Asian lowers your chances as an "over-represented minority".

Either way, using an objective test for this type of thing is silly - though I suppose there's no alternative with the sheer number of applications at HYS and so on. Seems weird that Malia Obama would qualify as the equivalent of an "access candidate" when a systemically poor white kid would not.

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, chaboywb said:

Even the term "URM" in the States only seems to cover black and Indigenous students. I've seen it pondered that being Asian lowers your chances as an "over-represented minority".

Either way, using an objective test for this type of thing is silly - though I suppose there's no alternative with the sheer number of applications at HYS and so on. Seems weird that Malia Obama would qualify as the equivalent of an "access candidate" when a systemically poor white kid would not.

Yes, there are investigations going on in the States due to the alleged discrimination against Asian applicants: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/26/us/politics/yale-asian-americans-discrimination-investigation.html

 

To answer the OP, I don't really think it helps unless you are Indigenous. I am pretty sure UBC and UVic ask people to identify their ethnic backgrounds during applications but both schools are stats-based and don't even pretend to be holistic. So I don't think asking your background necessarily means it is being used for admissions, it could be stats collection.

Edited by Starling

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4 hours ago, Yabbie said:

Basically- do you have a better chance than the average if you are not white

No. If you were urm you'd face additional barriers (discrimination) that would likely result in your grades and tests scores being much lower.  When you add on the historical fact that black/indigenous applicants were largely denied a chance to attend these schools and the largest advantages are given to children of alumni (6 times more likely to be admitted and get admitted with much lower scores) who often get into the most elite schools with marginal grades (George Bush/JFK/etc) and add on all the institutional racism, your chances would be much more WORSE.  The best evidence of this is URM's are exactly that, UNDER represented.  If there chance was better than a white applicant, they wouldn't be under represented anymore.

 

In fact in the Fischer case it was revealed that:

Quote

"Although one African-American and four Latino applicants with lower combined academic and personal achievement scores than Ms. Fisher’s were provisionally admitted, so were 42 white applicants whose scores were identical to or lower than hers. Similarly, 168 black and Latino students with academic and personal achievement profiles that were as good as, or better than, Ms. Fisher’s were also denied, according to the university," Elise Boddie, a law professor at Rutgers, wrote in the New York Times this week.  

https://www.ibtimes.com/who-abigail-fisher-facts-about-2015-supreme-court-affirmative-action-case-2216026

This strongly suggest what I had indicated above, there is an advantage in the admission process with even lesser grades and test scores for being white than being black/latino as 168 higher scoring blacks and latinos were denied spots were 42 lower/equal scoring whites were given them.

If there is an advantage, the data seems to strongly suggest it is going to whites over blacks and hispanics in the United States.

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-affirmative-action-investigation-trump-20170802-story.html

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2 hours ago, Diplock said:

Yes, you're right. It's impossible to seek this information without using language that is likely to offend people - certainly likely to offend you - and so sooner than ask the question at all and risk speaking in these terms, it's better to pretend information is simply non-existent and/or unknowable. Because that's obviously better.

You know, I think the OP's question is stupid. But I think responses of this nature are even more stupid. Of course every kind of decision-making is shrouded in uncertainty, and comparisons are necessarily imperfect. But if someone wants to know if being a visible minority is or is not an advantage of any sort in application to law school, it's not inherently an invalid question. And it shouldn't need to be couched in three paragraphs of context ("of course I know that any perceived consideration given to visible minorities is not really reflective of lower admissions standards but only a necessary and still insufficient correction for the disadvantages they have faced in the course of ...." etc. etc. etc.) And baiting someone into speaking in ever-more racially charged terms (which is what you were trying to do) just so you can spring an ultimate "gotcha!" at the end is not helpful.

Let me expose just how ridiculous and slanted your inquiry really is. Does white privilege exist? If yes, what is it being compared with? And if you are suggesting there are white people, anywhere, who owe some of what they have to this privilege, how would you know if they obtained any particular benefit due to their race?

Something either exists or it doesn't. People who want to deny the existence of white privilege generally try to make the whole thing so difficult to talk about that everyone gives up, so they can go back to pretending it doesn't exist and hasn't affected anything at all. I'm honestly kinda surprised to see you deploying exactly the same tactic from the other side.

Actually, I’m not offended nor am I trying to bait anyone, but I’m glad you’re in my head to tell me otherwise. 

Nor is this the “flip side” of asking if white privilege is real. It’s the exact same thing. Someone asking if being a minority is an advantage in applying to law school is basically asking not only whether white privilege does not exist, but whether there is “brown privilege.” You can only ask this question if you ignore all the data about systemic disadvantages and underrepresentation (the above poster used US stats, but there are plenty of Canadian ones.) “Does white privilege exist” is basically the question “Is racism a thing?” “Are there advantages for minorities applying to law school?” basically means “Are there disadvantages for white people applying?”

If there is systemic discrimination against people of colour, ergo, white people have advantages. If there wasn’t such discrimination, schools wouldn’t ask for your race. They ask because certain groups are disadvantaged in educational opportunities and outcomes, test scores, ECs etc and they are trying to level the playing field. The fact they are still asking obviously means it isn’t level yet. The Asians at Harvard and other US issues have less relevance here, but I would agree that certain groups are less disadvantaged than others and therefore better represented. 

 

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I don't think the OP was looking for a historical analysis of the average disadvantages experienced by people based on their skin color and ethnic origin. 

I instead interpreted his/her question as all things else being equal among the primary factors considered in law school admission (GPA/LSAT/Occasionally ECs) does being an ethnic minority give you an advantage in receiving an admission offer. 

I don't consider this to be a particularly awful question given that a lot of the information Canadian's receive about law school comes from sources from the United States where people have created predictors for your chances based on your GPA/LSAT combination where clicking the "URM" box can more than double your chances of getting accepted to a particular school given a particular GPA/LSAT combination (see for example https://7sage.com/predictor/ ). 

To try to answer what I perceive to be OP's actual question: it doesn't appear that Canada has a similar system for minorities in general. However, many (all?) schools have a special Aboriginal category which may weight your admission factors differently. I don't have much information about the Aboriginal admission categories and I'm not sure how much of a difference they make. 

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3 hours ago, chaboywb said:

Even the term "URM" in the States only seems to cover black and Indigenous students. I've seen it pondered that being Asian lowers your chances as an "over-represented minority".

 

It's not "pondered." From the discovery in the HUG lawsuit (or simply looking at the class composition of schools that don't practice AA like Caltech) it is grossly weighted against Asians.  

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I won’t get into the more theoretical questions around race, admissions, and affirmative action, as many, many others already have strong opinions on this (Source: Internet, All-the-time). The only real practical issue I see arising is, if you are a minority, whether disclosing your race will help or hurt your application (I guess if you're considering some sort of Michael Jackson-esque treatment or defrauding the adcom, that would give rise to the question too, albeit with different answers).

I think that it's more likely to help. As stated by others, members of historically disadvantaged populations presumably faced barriers. The committee may view those barriers as mitigating on other deficiencies in the application, benefiting that application vis-a-vis an application with comparable stats, but without some sort of historical disadvantage. I suspect that committees may also consider whether indicated race is underrepresented, and perhaps prioritize that application on the basis that the profession and society-at-large benefits from having marginalized groups included in its ranks. 

Now, disclosure of the information may not help that much -- i.e., while the committee may accept that a barrier was a factor in a lower GPA or something, they may not accord it sufficient weight to overcome an otherwise weak application. As others have pointed out, race might be less of a factor for certain groups, perhaps based upon whether they are actually underrepresented in the legal profession. In any case, the fact that an applicant might not benefit from disclosure should not necessarily be a disincentive from disclosing. 

And to OP: I have written a long response on the assumption that you are asking a question in good faith. If you are instead a racist troll, I would invite you to PVFO (to borrow a term from the OCI threads, with an additional "v" that stands for vigorously). 

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, realpseudonym said:

The only real practical issue I see arising is, if you are a minority, whether disclosing your race will help or hurt your application (I guess if you're considering some sort of Michael Jackson-esque treatment or defrauding the adcom, that would give rise to the question too, albeit with different answers).

Sometimes it is out of an applicant's control because of a name that is a dead giveaway. Which really sucks if you got an Asian name and are applying to Harvard or other schools of that ilk. 

Edited by BearPatrol

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Posted (edited)

In Canada? I would say not as much as in the States. But generally, yes. Being black or aboriginal does give you a slight edge. But it doesn't mean that you can get in U of T or osgoode with 150 and 2.5. It's only a slight edge, AFAIK.

Edited by darklightness

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