Class Composition Goals

West Point, now and again, publishes annual reports to the Board of Visitors. Those that have been published recently- after they have “been acted upon by the President of the United States” — can be found here. If you’re interested in history, you can find the 1891 report here. In this post, we find confirmation that West Point has racial quotas and therefore bends the rules to meet them. We posit that the quotas are not necessary and are harmful to the Army.

Applicant Funnel

One critical piece of information missing from the class data files was whether an offer was extended to an individual or not. In its absence we could not made definite statements about the yields through each step of the admissions funnel. However, these annual reports provide an idea.

The 2017 report has slides of interest to us on pages 58-59 of the file. They address offers and yield by types of targeted cadet.

Here we see the applicant, offer, and acceptance funnel by major candidate category. This is very useful even seeing that it’s in the middle of the offer stage and that the categories do not include other ethnic categories of White, Asian, Other, or Native American.

While the table includes percentages of row totals, it does not include the funnel by each category. Below we take the liberty of adding those percentages and filling in some gaps.

Whoever made the slides mushed some different categories together – sex, ethnicity data, and some of the “cadet profiles” that the academy uses. We did not include the “obligations” line due to not understanding exactly what is meant by that on this slide.

We see that West Point has challenges finding acceptable minority talent. However, it is not due to lack of outreach. This is shown in the proportionate numbers of applicants vs the total pool and their lower-than-average offer rates. From our other posts we know that the Black and Hispanic cadets are admitted with lower academic credentials than other groups. This happens even with 50% lower offer rates (4% vs 7%) than non-Black, non-Hispanic candidates.

We are not sure what the criteria for designating Scholars, Leaders, Athletes, or Soldiers are. They are probably designations for candidates who are strong in those particular areas, so higher offer and yield rates make sense. But since there is no cross-tab with the overlap of those categories and the race or gender categories, we can go no further.

Composition Goals

Now for the interesting part. Let us see, Comrade, how West Point is doing on its racial quotas. Has it brought in enough African Americans? Hispanics? Women?

The slide below has the achieved admission rates, target / goal rates and whether the goal was achieved (red font). To the right we see the population proportions of each category.

The Academy missed its “Black Quota” for four of the seven years shown. It missed its “Leaders” quota for three of the seven, “Athletes” quota for six of the seven, and “Hispanics” quota for three of seven.

But what is an admissions officer to do? The Academy already grants waivers to standards for Athletes and admits favored minorities (i.e, not Asian — Asian quota is made every year no problem!– and not White, which is a category missing on the chart) at aptitude levels consistently and significantly below the rest of the Corps. What other levers are there to pull besides dropping standards, already at the floor for some groups, to the basement?

Quotas and Best Classes

So we sympathize here with the Admissions officer. After all, the Admissions officer’s OER Top Blocks are at stake in this table.

In the Army, as in other bureaucracies, if one is given a numerical goal to achieve, one tries to achieve it. What types of things can an Army admissions officer do to achieve admissions goals?

In a perfect world, sorting by Whole Candidate Score (WCS) and extending offers in that order down the line would yield the best possible class. But that isn’t going on. So the admissions officer has to find the pool of acceptable candidates and fit them to the quotas and goals.

This necessarily results in a class that is in fact not merit and rank ordered. So definitionally, by imposing quotas, West Point is accepting a sub-optimal class by its own admissions metric. And career-minded officers, mindful of the goals and quotas, will take that even further to try to make the numbers look good.

It happens in every production environment–Be careful of what you measure, because you get more of it.


This type of presentation is a window to the top Army bureaucrats minds. And through this window into the Army bureaucracy we see something ominous. It shows a worldview that presupposes that everyone does not “bleed green.” These “leaders” believe that soldiers will not fight as best they can unless someone who looks like them is in charge. The Army can’t have just one example of a group who is exemplary due to his merit. No, there must be “proportionate” representation, regardless of the characteristics of the group or individuals.

This means that a group must have a cadre of people who understand what they’ve been through, who can communicate with them, and will advocate for them… against whom?

Clearly against some other group who will not look out for them or who will even be actively antagonistic to them. Perhaps this is protection against other favored groups, who will now also need their representative leaders going to bat for them. After all, who else is there?

We almost forgot. As shown above, Whites, and particularly White men, are entitled to no representation or quotas. We have perhaps found our oppressive culprit, in the eyes of the Army.

In the end, the drive to have “proportionate representation”, (as ridiculous as it is to even cursory analysis of how “proportionate” is decided), as opposed to representation of excellence in the officer ranks, reflects submission to the idea that loyalty to the tribe, to one’s ethnic group, supersedes loyalty to the chain of command and the country. It sees that set of ethnic loyalties running from the lowest private up through GO ranks. And it promotes the idea that other groups are bad.

This idea and leadership approach is divisive, it is pernicious, and it will be–indeed, already is–being exploited by enemies of our country. It needs to stop.

Thoughtful criticism and factual correction are welcome.

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