Who else but sociologists would think a paper arguing that “black and Latino students with academic credentials equal to those of white students are slightly more likely than their white counterparts to apply to and enroll at selective colleges” is noteworthy enough to present at a discipline’s annual convention?
Might that unsurprising fact be because blacks are smart enough to realize that they have a much better chance of being admitted to selective colleges than similarly qualified whites or Asians? The authors haven’t, or at least don’t present, a clue.
The study analyzed academic preparation without regard to the impact of affirmative action on admissions decisions. So to the extent admissions patterns vary by racial and ethnic groups at some institutions, the analysis did not factor that in.
It seems to me that the application patterns uncovered here (were they really hidden?) is quite rational, but maybe rational behavior is newsworthy in some sociological circles.