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"Race" in College Applications FAQ & Discussion 12

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Replies to: "Race" in College Applications FAQ & Discussion 12

  • LadyMeowMeowLadyMeowMeow 257 replies17 threads Junior Member
    My kid is doing great. Please know that I have nothing but admiration and respect for the people who made HYPS strong institutions, to the extent that they are, but according to their own lofty and virtuous standards -- bleated mercilessly -- they should welcome criticism. Mostly I dislike all the double-speak, for example the kind (helpfully elucidated by you elsewhere on this site) that forces admissions to pretend to alumni that the legacy tip is a big benefit while telling the unwashed public that there's nothing to see. There's no Veritas in that. There's truth in data, and it should be told clearly on the admissions websites.

    I find it unfortunate that defenders of the status quo have to reach for arguments like "imposter syndrome" or spread tales of how gritty first-gen students are unsuited for the rigors of colleges. If these places are as good as they say, they can handle that kind of scenario.

    I submit that the HYPS college experience would not be harmed if legacy preferences were abolished. Legacies would still apply and get in, but only those who weren't so weak that they needed the tip. if the system could be unrigged, we'd learn how many.
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  • calmomcalmom 20732 replies168 threads Senior Member
    Are you saying all these otherwise-"unqualified" legacies would be replaced by other hooked groups such as athletic recruits or URMs

    I'm saying in mega-competitive admissions, just about every person admitted comes with added value of some sort. Every college has a multitude of institutional goals and needs, some with higher priority than others. The schools with single-digit admissions have thousands of well-qualified candidates to select from -- and also dozens of different goals and needs to meet, and a whole variety of targets and sub-targets they are aiming for in admissions.

    I don't think any student gets admitted unless there is a clear answer to the question "what does this applicant bring that the others don't?". Now there may be a very small number of cases where the answer to that question may be, "this applicant is absolutely brilliant in a way that is head and shoulders above other students" ... but the vast majority of admitted students are getting in because their admission is ticking off one or more boxes on the institutional wish list.
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  • calmomcalmom 20732 replies168 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    Holistic admissions is designed to cement the existing status quo.
    No, it is designed to meet the forward-looking goals of the institution, some or most of which might be to preserve existing status quo -- but some of which also is going to be looking toward the future. Because the institutions don't want to be left behind as the expectations of society evolve.

    Just as an example, the recent uptick in first-generation admissions represents a current trend - perhaps in part as a counter-balance to legacy admissions -- but it is a change-making goal, not a status-quo preserving goal.
    edited February 2019
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  • TanbikoTanbiko 368 replies2 threads Member
    Based on my limited experience the majority of HYP legacies have additional hooks. They are athletes, URMs, children of VIPs and major donors. And some of them are good people.
    My immigrant daughter who attended on financial aid is forever grateful.
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1585 replies35 threads Senior Member
    IMO, most donors will continue to donate regardless of legacy considerations. They want to associated with these schools. Otherwise, how do MIT and Caltech get their donations? And they're just as generous when it comes to financial aid.
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  • MWolfMWolf 2087 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Ivies were created to educate the kids of the rich and powerful. Their entire financial system is based on that. They have modified that a bit so that they educate the most academically capable of the kids of the rich and powerful, as well as a small number of kids who are poor, and some of the smartest of the smart of any income class. This helps their image, and creates a new set of alumni who will be even more grateful than the kid who grew up rich, and helps them increase the chance that the next billionaire inventor will be an alumnus of their college.

    They also compete in academics and in sports with the other Ivies, which is another reason to make sure to accept mostly really smart people, and it also ties into Athletes (see below).

    They do like diversity, but mostly because that is a good way to diversify their investments. They're smart people and see the demographic changes in the country. They also want to be out ahead of the newer generation of wealth and power (which is why the diversity is rarely in income). However, they still need to satisfy their older donors, who are mostly White, so they make it easier for White kids to enter - that is where Legacy and Athletes come in. The type of Athletes that they choose will continue to benefit the very richest Americans, while Legacy will do a bit better at tracking the newer generation of wealth.

    The admissions of a private university focus on what's good for the university, not on doing good for society, not on rewarding kids for being smart, hard working, and accomplished. Harvard admissions people care about Harvard, and the rest of the Ivies are no different. They do just enough for society to keep the public from hating them and from demanding that they lose their tax exemptions, and to allow them to feel like philanthropists.

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  • CU123CU123 3676 replies74 threads Senior Member
    I definitely detect a disdain for the Ivies.......
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  • DeepBlue86DeepBlue86 1059 replies7 threads Senior Member
    LadyMeow, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of the rest of the world, if not you, can’t handle the Veritas. Not if it means putting on admissions websites exactly why and how these schools admit the URMs and athletes they do, as well as the legacies and development cases.

    I’ve asked you this before, but just why, exactly, do you think these colleges owe you, or anyone else, any explanation for their admissions practices, provided they’re lawful? These are private institutions, and they admit who they like, in the service of what they see as their interests.

    If you really believe that there aren’t plenty, and I mean plenty, of cases of unprepared kids who got into these schools as a result of virtue-signaling by admissions and then couldn’t handle it, I think you should ask your daughter and her friends at peer schools if they’ve ever seen any such examples. Blame the schools if you like.

    I submit that you can have no idea what these schools would be like if legacy preference were abolished, and insufficient knowledge to enable you to state as confidently as you do that the HYPS experience wouldn’t be harmed. For my part (and speaking as someone who’s been closely involved for a long time with more than one of them), I’m quite sure that without the efforts of engaged alumni, over the last few centuries, they’d be unrecognizable.
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  • Data10Data10 3298 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    Otherwise, how do MIT and Caltech get their donations? And they're just as generous when it comes to financial aid.
    Actually there are often huge difference in FA. In general MIT and Caltech tend to have less generous FA than HYPS, but there are plenty of exceptions for specific situations. Some example situations are below, from their respective net price calculators. Percentage claiming aid and average aid are often more similar, as the difference often more relates to the student body as whole being more wealthy at HYPS.

    $150k Income - $15k taxes, $250k savings, $250k in primary home
    Caltech -- $63k Cost to Parents
    MIT -- $37k Cost to Parents
    Harvard -- $17k Cost to Parents

    $65k Income - $5k taxes, $100k savings, Rent home
    Caltech -- $11k Cost to Parents
    MIT -- $8k Cost to Parents
    Harvard -- $0 Cost to Parents
    edited February 2019
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2640 replies5 threads Senior Member
    "favoring admitting students who display the desired cooperative and supporting other classmate traits, etc."

    I don't know how they would figure out the cooperative/competitive nature of kids from their high school apps. The kids that get into HYPSM and other selective colleges come from highly competitive high schools, with cheating (rampant in some), grade focus (such that rank has been eliminated in most). They may be supportive in college, but they were competitive in high school.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2640 replies5 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    "Literally everything conventionally regarded as a hook - being a URM, a faculty brat, a development case, from a square state, with unusual athletic ability or a legacy - is something you’re born with and did nothing to earn."

    Which is why most of them should be eliminated. In the Harvard case, the plantiff's lawyer asked in the deposition, to Fitzsimmons (dean of admissions), you're more interested in the applicant's family than the applicant aren't you? If that question comes up, the defense will object as they did in the deposition, let's see if the judge allows him to answer in the trial. In ladymeow's essay, it's McCash's wealth and connections that's far more interesting than him.
    edited February 2019
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  • Data10Data10 3298 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    I don't know how they would figure out the cooperative/competitive nature of kids from their high school apps.
    MIT's website has a good summary of the "match" criteria they look for at https://mitadmissions.org/apply/process/what-we-look-for/ . This same list of criteria appears elsewhere on the site, such as on their facts page at https://web.mit.edu/facts/admission.html, so it may be part of evaluation rating categories. The 2nd criteria they mention looking for is quoted below.
    MIT wrote:
    Collaborative and cooperative spirit

    The core of the MIT spirit is collaboration and cooperation; you can see it all over the Institute. Many of the problem sets (our affectionate term for homework) at MIT are designed to be worked on in groups, and cross-department labs are very common. MIT is known for its interdisciplinary research. If you enjoy working alone all the time, that’s completely valid, but you might not be particularly happy at MIT.

    Admission readers get clues from the holistic evaluation of the file. This can include comments in the LORs or interview, choice of ECs and how they are described, essays, etc. For example, if they Glen Ridge kid mentioned how he enjoyed working in the team in accomplishing the impressive research, it might be viewed as a positive; while if he mentioned not liking working in a group on the research because the slackers were getting credit for his work, it might be viewed as a negative.

    Readers obviously don't have perfect accuracy in evaluation of these "match" criteria. Instead it's more when the application shows examples of collaborative/cooperative spirit it's a positive factor for admission, and when the application shows examples of academic competitiveness with classmates it can be a negative.




    edited February 2019
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  • UndeservingURMUndeservingURM 75 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Data10 wrote:

    t's not a simple either the paper counts or doesn't count. It's a good achievement and EC that contributes to the overall decision. It's more looking for a consistent pattern across the full application than looking for a single isolated achievement. As you noted, it can be difficult to draw conclusions from a single isolated event. However, I certainly would not assume he "tagged along" and "just put his name on the paper." I doubt Princeton admissions would make this assumption as well. Princeton admissions would likely be influenced by how he described the experience at Rutgers and related research in his essays, interview, and possibly LOR.

    Counts as in was it a significant achievement that had a high impact on the application as opposed to just another officer position in an academic EC. You're right in that we don't know his exact stats or application to figure it out. This is by design. College admissions are black boxes with purposely obfuscated admissions criteria.

    The other (two?) posters were making assumptions and raving about his involvement and this accomplishment. I am responding to those assumptions. If we are to make inferences with the information available, the highest probability inference is that he was NOT the main contributor and that he did not show high autonomy or initiative. This is the standard assumption for co-authors of papers with many co-authors. The chance that any one of the 7 co-authors was a main contributor is low. Basic statistics.

    We have the information that he got into Princeton to make inferences on the quality of his work on the paper. But the fact that he was black diminishes this signal because he already had a very high chance of getting into Princeton just having good ECs and academics. The quality of his work on the paper would have little effect on his admissions chances.

    This is the curse of affirmative action. If URMs can already max out on their probability of admission at the best colleges in the country just having good ECs, grades and test scores like the 30,000 other competitive students applying to the Ivies, then the truly exceptional URMs can't be differentiated from the merely good. Talent is also bottom heavy for competitive applicants (most competitive applicants merely have good ECs, grades and test scores), so probability says that most URM admits would also be 'merely' competitive applicants since most 'merely' competitive applicants get into the top schools. Their non-URM peers are more proven because being merely competitive is not enough: their admission rates are low. If non-URMs get into top schools, chances are better than they have proven themselves in some way (otherwise they would have been rejected).
    Data10 wrote:
    There is no way to estimate that they had a 20% chance of admission from the available information. According to https://admission.princeton.edu/how-apply/admission-statistics , Princeton applicants with a perfect 4.0 GPA only have an 8% rate of admission. If the Glen Ridge kids instead had a 3.9x GPA, then the average admit rate drops to 6%. Do you think you have enough information to determine how much greater chance each Glen Ridge applicant has than the average 4.0 GPA Princeton applicant?
    I have no sources for that number. Just anecdotes and it's not for one college. I found that Asian and white students with similar profiles to the ones in the video ( top 5-10% with high test scores and good ECs but no hooks or exceptional achievements) had around a 20% chance of getting into one of HYPSM if they applied to all of them (and higher if it's a girl with STEM interest).

    ucbalumnus wrote:
    As usual, outsiders guessing at the admission qualifications of the applicants cannot see important (to super selective colleges) components like essays and recommendations of the specific applicants and the rest of the applicant pool. So it is hard to really know, as opposed to falling back on preset assumptions.
    This is an effect that is by design of the college administrators and holistic college admissions.
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  • UndeservingURMUndeservingURM 75 replies0 threads Junior Member
    ucbalumnus wrote:
    ]What do legacy and donor-kid students (as opposed to perhaps their parents and their donations, for whose kids the college admission preferences are effectively like an aristocratic inheritance) add to the campus over other students?

    Indeed, strictly looking on the basis of personal academic merit, legacy and donor-kid students may have the least of all students of comparable academic achievement, since they are much more likely to have come from highly advantaged families (with attendant support and help in achieving to the top of one's potential) than "unhooked" students. For comparison, recruited athletes with comparable academic achievement had to achieve to a high level in a sport as well. URMs are somewhat more likely to have encountered barriers to climb over to reach a given level of achievement, compared to others of similar SES.

    - Social connections for other students
    - funding the school and scholarships for other students
    - diversity (the average rich person is more diverse than the average non-rich person. rich people have the time and money to have diverse experiences, that's the hard truth). There actually aren't that many 0.01% people in the world or in the top schools either, so they would be considered diverse compared to the majority of Ivy league students who are merely upper middle/low upper class with household incomes of $100k-$600k
    - For legacy, in-group biases foster school/community involvement and a stronger feeling of community (school is not just a place where people get their degree but also a multi-generational brotherhood).
    - Athletes (for main sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer) add to the culture and school spirit
    Data10 wrote:
    For example, in the wake of the lawsuit, the majority of all races of entering freshman at Harvard said they had a favorable view of racially-conscious affirmative action programs. The specific numbers were 6% of Black students had an unfavorable view, and 26% of Asian students had an unfavorable view. Senior survey numbers were similar.

    IIRC, survey results completely change once the question is made concise. Surveys asking "do you support diversity efforts through affirmative action" have favorable results to affirmative action but surveys with more direct questions like "do you support using race as a factor in college admissions to increase diversity" has unfavorable results.
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  • ChangeTheGameChangeTheGame 896 replies14 threads Member
    edited February 2019
    I love this discussion. How is preference used in Elite college admissions? This has been debated from almost universally accepted preferences (women at STEM specific elites based on acceptance percentages but with equal stats), to much derided preferences (URM preferences) and all of those in-between (Athletes, legacy, and donor class). @UndeservingURM, you have just defended the in-between preferences but see no value in URM preferences. If there was some proof of intrinsic value in racial preferences, would that change your mind? I tend to lean towards throwing out all preferences (besides money generating athletics), but each preference has positives and negatives. Maybe it is the strength of the preference causing such a vigorous debate. From @Data10’s post on the odds of admission (page 255), the odds of an African American getting admitted are higher than any preference listed besides being an athlete. I personally believe there is value in racial diversity on elite campuses, but that value is brought down by the divisions and stereotypes that URM students have to deal with and the immense challenge for unhook applicants to reach elite level schools. Elite college admissions is definitely not an equal playing field for all applicants, (but it never has been).
    edited February 2019
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  • SatchelSFSatchelSF 1372 replies13 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    It looks like about 60-65 kids did the NJ Governor's School last summer in engineering and technology. The magic of the internet, here is a link to all the papers, as well as video presentations for each (fun to peruse):
    https://soe.rutgers.edu/governors-school-engineering-technology-research-journals

    Here is Ryan Henry's group, beginning at the Q&A: https://youtu.be/pqg5XV0AH2k?t=878

    Overall, just perusing the papers and the videos, I think all the kids come off pretty well in everything I saw. Keep in mind that none of these kids likely knew each other (or the topic) prior to arriving at the summer program, so to my mind most of this is more a read on how collaborative and effective the kids can be, rather than a true statement of deep interest or ability.

    This program, though, is quite different from something like SAMS, MITES, SSP, RSI, etc. in that the program is not picking the "best" kids from an effectively unrestricted applicant pool. The pool for the NJ program is restricted to the group of nominees from individual high schools. In practice, that means that a school like Glen Ridge - with a 1210 average SAT and a single NMSF in a class of roughly 135, gets the same number of nominees, one, as a place like Bergen County Academies - 1474 SAT and ~40 NMSF (2018 number) in a class of roughly 275.

    A huge majority of the "best" science and math kids in NJ will be missed in this process, by definition. For instance, my estimate is that not more than 10-15% of the kids in Glen Ridge could even have gained admittance to Bergen County Academies, maybe a slightly larger percentage to HTHS (Ryan Henry certainly would have been in those percentages though). The lesson is pick your high school carefully! Good, suburban district, but not too competitive. No wonder house prices in Glen Ridge are so high!

    Here is a description of the selection process: https://soe.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/imce/pdfs/GSET Application 2019.pdf
    edited February 2019
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1585 replies35 threads Senior Member
    $150k Income - $15k taxes, $250k savings, $250k in primary home
    Caltech -- $63k Cost to Parents
    MIT -- $37k Cost to Parents
    Harvard -- $17k Cost to Parents

    $65k Income - $5k taxes, $100k savings, Rent home
    Caltech -- $11k Cost to Parents
    MIT -- $8k Cost to Parents
    Harvard -- $0 Cost to Parents

    Your data presentation is highly selective and misleading. First of all, to compare MIT/Caltech, as schools that don't consider legacy status, with a single school, Harvard, that considers legacy status and that happens to have the single largest endowment, is just disingenuous. Most elite colleges, including the Ivies, have legacy preferences. For a fairer comparison, you at least need to include schools like Brown, or Penn, or Northwestern, or Hopkins... Secondarily, even in a head-to-head comparison, MIT (or Caltech) with Harvard, the no-legacy-preferences school will come out ahead in many cases, especially for truly low-income Americans. Harvard is more generous for higher income families precisely because the type of students it wants to attract.
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  • hebegebehebegebe 2790 replies39 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    Wow, 30 posts overnight!

    @1NJParent,

    Well the costs that @Data10 pulled are selective, I don't think they are intentionally misleading. After all, the peer group is HYPSM, which doesn't include Brown, Penn, Northwestern, or Hopkins, even though the last few have better engineering programs than HY, and maybe P.

    Also remember that while H has the largest endowment, P has the largest endowment per student, Y has had the best endowment returns thanks to Swensen, and S gets a lot of research funds, just like M. Interestingly, the current endowment chair of M, Seth Alexander, is a Swensen protege, and has had the best recent record of returns. Perhaps M will be more generous in the future.
    edited February 2019
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1585 replies35 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    Well the costs that @Data10 pulled are selective, I don't think they are intentionally misleading.
    I don't disagree. No one can judge someone else's intentions. The data, as presented by themselves, are misleading, however. The context in which we were discussing is whether schools can do away with legacy preferences and still attract sufficient donations to maintain a generous financial aid policy to benefit their equally-talented but lower-income students. The original contention was that MIT and Caltech manage to be as generous as those that consider legacy status, which include many other elites besides HYPS. One would think HYPS would be in the best position to do away with legacy preferences considering their large endowments and name recognitions globally.
    edited February 2019
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