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Harvard Admission Rating System

KpapKpap Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
Does Harvard’s preference for athletes (As stated in the lawsuit) hold true in admissions time or was that just a way to limit numbers of Asian Americans to Harvard?

If it holds true, does Harvard uniquely prize athletes over other candidates or do schools of similar status do the same?
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Replies to: Harvard Admission Rating System

  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 40,131 Super Moderator
    edited July 2018
    If they are a recruited athlete, yes, there is a preference. That is to say, they have an easier path to admission. For the non-recruited athlete compared to one with strong ECs outside of sports, no.

    BTW, the same holds true for almost every college with selective admissions.

    I will caution that the conversation does not diverge into a discussion of the lawsuit (which was covered on another thread) or the role of race in admissions (which is limited to the race thread in the admissions forum).
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,829 Senior Member
    Here we go again.
    Kpap, it's not that H "prefers" athletes (as in, would rather have them than other kids.) It's that the final pool of the coaches' recruits has a slightly easier admit process.
  • collegedad13collegedad13 Registered User Posts: 711 Member
    We keep getting multiple variations of the same thread. Let me summarize again. Harvard wants a diverse class of future leaders which includes many different races including blacks and browns as well as athletes and students who show potential but whose families never had enough money to game the system
  • gibbygibby Registered User Posts: 10,612 Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    @skieurope wrote "If they are a recruited athlete, yes, there is a preference. That is to say, they have an easier path to admission. For the non-recruited athlete compared to one with strong ECs outside of sports, no."

    @lookingforward wrote" "it's not that H "prefers" athletes (as in, would rather have them than other kids . . . ."

    FWIW: The folks at Inside Higher Education are beginning to question that way of thinking: https://www.insidehighered.com/admissions/views/2018/06/25/harvard-admissions-data-raise-questions-dont-demonstrate-discrimination
    . . why does Harvard need to assign an athletic rating to every applicant? Card reports that admissions data confirms the importance of the athletic rating, that the admission rate for applicants with an athletic rating of 2 is twice the overall rate. So does that mean that athletic individuals are better candidates for Harvard, or is the athletic rating how Harvard ensures that recruited athletes get a boost in the admission process?

    IMHO: It makes perfect sense for Harvard to assign an athletic rating for athletic recruits. However, when done so for non-recruits it seems to boost their overall rating. Or conversely, a student who does not participate in athletics -- and is not an athletic recruit -- may receive a LOWER overall rating and it may LOWER their chances of being admitted.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,829 Senior Member
    Alone, that doesn't mean any (non-recruited) athletic activity is a tip or hook, in itself. It's the old causation vs correlation. We also don't know what aspect of athletics is rated. Actual skill (next to impossible to judge, from afar,) the commitment to the challenges, team, personal engagement and the coach's direction? Or whatever.

    And plenty of kids of various backgrounds do play sports. OP needs to do his/her personal best in class and in the rest of what matters.
  • Data10Data10 Registered User Posts: 2,619 Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    IMHO: It makes perfect sense for Harvard to assign an athletic rating for athletic recruits. However, when done so for non-recruits it seems to boost their overall rating. Or conversely, a student who does not participate in athletics -- and is not an athletic recruit -- may receive a LOWER overall rating and it may LOWER their chances of being admitted.

    Harvard's athletic rating is interesting. According to lawsuit docs presented by Harvard:
    The athletic rating summarizes the strength of the applicant’s potential contributions to athletics at Harvard, as well as the applicant’s degree of participation in high school.
    ...
    A “1” athletic rating is used to refer to an athlete recruited by a Harvard varsity team.
    ~90% of applicants receive a 3 or 4 in the athletic rating. Unlike every other rating category, getting a 3 instead of a 4 in athletics was not associated with a statistically significant difference in chance of admission after controls. For the overwhelming majority of applicants who play a varsity sport in HS, the athletic rating does not appear to distinguish applicants in a way that notably impacts admissions decisions. However, a small portion of varsity athletes applicants receive a 2. As the quote above notes, a 2 is not a recruited athlete, but still was associated with a significantly increased chance of admission after full controls. That boost in chance of admission for a 2 in athletic was similar to the boost associated with a 2 in ECs.

    The typical varsity HS athlete gets a 3, which was not associated with a benefit in chance of admission above no athletic participation, so I'd expect that for the typical applicant, athletics are not going to increase chance of admission more than other types of ECs. This raises the question about why Harvard makes a special category for athletics, rather than just using the existing "ATH" label for recruited athletes, and considering athletics in the ECs category, which "summarizes the strength of the applicant’s involvement in activities during high school and potential to contribute outside the classroom at Harvard", for the other >99% of applicants who aren't recruited athletes? Several other highly selective colleges use this approach, without a special "athletic" rating category. The ~10% of applicants who receive a "2" in athletic could be impacted since the effect of a "2" in EC and "2" in athletic are cumulative. Maybe Harvard needs to make a special effort to have enough capable non-recruited walk-ons?

  • gibbygibby Registered User Posts: 10,612 Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    @Data10: According to the lawsuit docs presented by Harvard . . .
    Harvard assigns each applicant a rating in four areas -- academic, extracurricular, athletic and personal -- on a scale of 1 to 4.

    As such, it stands to reason that Harvard judges an applicant based on the AVERAGE of ratings in those four areas.

    So, while I agree that a student with a 3 or 4 rating in athletics does NOT get a boost or a tip -- a rating of 3 or 4 in athletics would seem to LOWER a student's overall rating.

    For example: a straight 'A' student who is the first violinist in their HS orchestra but does NOT participate in athletics MIGHT -- and I'm stressing MIGHT -- receive an overall LOWER rating than a straight 'A' student who plays percussion in the orchestra but also plays athletics and would be a competitive Division 3 athlete at another college. In other words, the dweeb with zero athletics MIGHT get a lower rating than a smart-jock!
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,829 Senior Member
    Thing is this: everyone wants in (or at least would like to think they have a shot, some magic lightning bolt, if only in their dreams.) Not everyone is qualified, even with top stats.

    But this lawsuit, like Fisher, makes for a media and popular frenzy. Nearly everyone wants to see a giant get its comeuppance. Whether or not any true facts support that. As I read various comments or google through articles, so many (most?) just declare what the plaintiff alleges is true. After all, H is the giant. 95% get rejected, so something is clearly amiss. Lol.

    And it spins from there.
    All the factors like geo diversity, balance in majors, gender balance, other institutional needs- or even if a candidate is truly prepared for his/her major or is likely to add to the community- etc, just get lost in the desire to see things magically equalized: They got a 4.0, those got a 3.9, "they" all get in and "those" don't. It's not that simple.

    You know my saying: "I think it, so it's true. And I read it somewhere, so Iknow it's true." Try to get past the insinuations and (a sort of) mob mentality.

    It's not just stats. Just getting top stats doesn't make one interesting, likely to contribute or even a clear thinker. It isn't just one group that gets set aside. It's 95% of all applicants.
  • KpapKpap Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    Just to let you all know, I wanted to see how that athletic rating system for each applicant would impact me as I believe I would be considered a 2 (National Level tennis player but not good enough to be recruited). Thank you all for your responses thus far.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,829 Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    Glad it gave you a laugh, roethlisburger. Sorry you find it hysterical. My point remains that it's more than athletics. Or academics. No easy formula.
  • boudersbouders Registered User Posts: 2,366 Senior Member
    How do they separate out athletics and extracurriculars? Would an athlete with a 1 or 2 rating in athletics also get a 1 or 2 rating for their extracurricular activities in the sport?
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 40,131 Super Moderator
    edited August 2018
    Card reports that admissions data confirms the importance of the athletic rating, that the admission rate for applicants with an athletic rating of 2 is twice the overall rate. So does that mean that athletic individuals are better candidates for Harvard, or is the athletic rating how Harvard ensures that recruited athletes get a boost in the admission process?
    In other words, the dweeb with zero athletics MIGHT get a lower rating than a smart-jock!
    And this sums it all up - we're all making assumptions.

    While we all know that a "1" in athletics is a recruited athlete, none of us knows what 2-6 means. So, my assumption is that a "2" is a nationally ranked athlete, perhaps in sport that Harvard does not have. So IMO Nathan Chen is a "2." Therefore, a "2" is still going to be very rare. The vast majority of applicants will be a 3 or below.

    Which gets back to my opinion as stated above. OK, so I'll concede that there might be an advantage to a few more applicants than I presumed at first. But getting back to my earlier example, it did not seem to help Nathan. :)
    Post edited by skieurope on
  • carlson2carlson2 Registered User Posts: 372 Member
    Kpap - are you a five-star or blue chip recruit? H's team is 4-5 star recruits, and blue chips. They took a 2-star this year, but that kid is legacy, and I suspect there are other factors at play with his recruitment.
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