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"What College Admissions Offices Really Want"

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Replies to: "What College Admissions Offices Really Want"

  • AlwaysMovingAlwaysMoving 163 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    foobar1 wrote: »

    I say this half in jest but auction off 20% of the admission slots :-) Assume the candidate meets some minimal acceptable academic standard. That should generate a ton of money for the private college. The other 80% of admissions slots would use need-blind admission.

    I spit my coffee when I read this! lol.

    People can act like schools are above this, but the Trinity Colleges of the world do this if they could save face.
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  • dropbox77177dropbox77177 266 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited September 13
    I say this half in jest but auction off 20% of the admission slots :-)
    In jest or not, but this is not dissimilar to what Harvard actually does.

    About 15% of Harvard's freshman slots are reserved for development and "special interest" candidates. Sure, the currency is not always simply cash, and presumably there are some academic standards that are no doubt radically relaxed in certain extraordinary circumstances, but the spirit is the same.

    Such a model works very well for Harvard.
    edited September 13
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34117 replies377 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Again, don't just look at end results, if you want to understand the process from the beginning.

    And don't assume all lower SES kids come in with substandard skills. It raises hackles when I say it, but a lot of them leave a lot of the the rich kids in the dust. Also, the notion of adding economic diversity is not just empty good will. The kids who perform well go on to influence a great number of others. Though some are, you don't have to be a CEO or judge to have this impact.

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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29422 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think they are doing this in a back door way. Trinity is well known to pricey private schools as a choice for some of their underperforming students. The linked article makes that clear. Great distaste on part of admissions and faculty about this market, but it pays the bills. Also a lot of these sludgey students do grow up in time. They are often smart kids who are just lazy or unmotivated to do school work. That they are so privileged makes this a stereotypical privileged spoiled trust fund kid that leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who have had to work hard and scrape the financial barrels, watching their parents do the same. Many test very well, in part due to heavy duty tutoring, but really, I’ve met a lot of these kids, and they are smart and capable for the most part. Also Undisciplined and uninterested in academics. They also have facility with rigorous academics because they’ve been exposed to it, often having it pounded into their brains for their entire lives.

    I have no problem with a school taking a number of those kids. A trademark of theirs is a combo of high test scores and low grades. They do tend to graduate college, their test scores are often a boost to colleges and their grades and they can be made up by those many many kids with high grades and lower test scores. They bring in the money Often in many areas, full tuition, development, parental support and donations throughout the years, legacy, and future donations.

    I look at my kids’ independent school that lists alumni giving and, yeah, even 15 -20 years out, it’s the well to do kids donating. Not the kids from the ABC , Prep for Prep and other scholarship programs. Those kids are still paying back student loans from college, maybe helping out family even while trying to make upscale lived for themselves.

    So, yeah, Trinity and like schools have to take a deep breath and take a dose of those kids, and faculty might want to put forth efforts in getting more of them to engage academically because a lot of them will be in positions of power and wealth. They should do that in tandem with working to get optimal graduation rates from high financial need kids that may not have had the academic prep and background of the “brats”.

    The all important US News ranking do Reward those efforts. You need high test scores, you need low income kids succeeding, you need good graduation rates.

    Trinity only gives less than 1% of their kids merit money even as the meet full need to those that they accept. They are not need blind in admissions. I think they might want to look at schools like Ursinus, St Lawrence, Wash & Lee to buy some top students wanting a good LAC, a small school, can’t pay for it even with s high EFC. Maybe enter that niche market of kids of divorce who have an uncooperative NCP like Vanderbilt and Chicago have.

    A of families who can afford to pay full price are not interested in schools that are focusing on Lower SES students. They want their kids going to schools where the students are either top performers academically or come from supportive (wealthy even better ) family background. They want fellow with prospects to lift up their own kids prospects. A reason often cited for the clamor for highly selective schools is the quality of the student body. Those with low SES have the academic prowess to succeed as do many of the students. It makes a huge difference.

    Trinity still has a bit of this luster but it is getting tarnished. They need to work on this as repugnant as it may be to idealistic faculty and Admissions officers.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2433 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 13
    "Most Admissions officers I have met at selective schools truly want to get the top candidates regardless of ability to pay, and also make an impact on the demographics of their campuses with diversity and give those socially and economically disadvantaged an opportunity to move out of that position."

    You have to believe what they do, not what they say. Here are the rankings for social mobility for some selective schools:

    Harvard - 186 (one of the better ones)
    Princeton - 186
    Brown - 224
    Hopkins - 241
    Stanford - 241
    Yale - 285
    Vanderbilt - 291
    Dartmouth - 303
    Chicago - 335
    WUSTL - 381

    So if an adcom from a selective schools says we really want social mobility, don't believe them. Now if someone from say a Cal State or UC says it, for sure, believe them, their mission is social mobility and they do a superb job.

    UC Riverside - 1
    UC Santa Cruz - 2
    UC Irvine - 3
    UC Merced - 7
    UC Davis - 9

    "I believe the answer for many top colleges is yes."

    I disagree, and again a lot of it is lip service. If you really want to improve SES diversity, you'd recruit poor whites as well as poor blacks. I think your son/daughter goes to Williams, the highest poverty rates for whites are in places like WV, Ark, Ok, the highest poverty rates for blacks are in places like LA, MS. There are probably a lot of low-income whites in places like the Dakotas, WY, but not at poverty. Williams has zero from WV and the Dakotas, one from Arkansas, 3 from OK, while have 5 from LA and 6 from MS. I do credit Williams for not accepting anyone just to say they have 50 states, but no credit for trying to get poor whites.
    edited September 13
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  • dropbox77177dropbox77177 266 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited September 13
    Williams, like other elite institutions, is happy to indulge the assumption that black or Latino = low SES.

    To his credit, Anthony Jack in his The Privileged Poor, points out his own experience at Amherst and research at an unidentified elite (presumably Harvard, where he is an assistant professor) confirming that more than half of the black and Latino kids are from privileged upper income backgrounds. Fully half of the remaining black kids and about a third of the remaining Latinos were also from privileged backgrounds in the sense that they attended prestigious prep schools on full scholarships, usually as part of programs like Prep for Prep.

    There has been no serious attempt by the elite schools to find talent in the vast swath of non-URM poor, and only modest attempts to identify talent in the poor but unprivileged URM groups (which Jack terms the "Doubly Disadvantaged").

    It's mostly optics.
    edited September 13
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  • northwestynorthwesty 3500 replies9 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 13
    "You have to believe what they do, not what they say. Here are the rankings for social mobility for some selective schools:

    Harvard - 186 (one of the better ones)
    Princeton - 186
    Brown - 224
    Hopkins - 241
    Stanford - 241
    Yale - 285
    Vanderbilt - 291
    Dartmouth - 303
    Chicago - 335
    WUSTL - 381"


    The biggest thing that tilts things towards high SES is high selectivity. We all know that the test scores, GPAs and fancy EC records screened for by highly selective schools are highly correlated with higher SES.

    Because of the priority on selectivity, it is no secret that schools may often fill up some of their diversity slots with URMs from professional or international backgrounds. The Obama girls seem to be quite smart and deserving of their spots at Harvard and UMich. They are URM, but also high stat and very high SES.

    In the UT/Austin affirmative action litigation, UT acknowledged that they were using their race conscious holistic admissions to admit the kids of suburban URM professionals who had good stats but who missed automatic admission under the Top 10% (really top 8%) plan.

    Then you get a further tilt towards high SES by going with SCEA/ED, legacy admissions, recruited athletes, and development cases.

    On the other hand, Harvard uses the dough it gets from donors and high SES parents to fund full rides for 20% of its enrolled students.
    edited September 13
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78229 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 13
    northwesty wrote: »
    The biggest thing that tilts things towards high SES is high selectivity. We all know that the test scores, GPAs and fancy EC records screened for by highly selective schools are highly correlated with higher SES.

    However, some attributes are more correlated with higher SES than others. E.g. SAT/ACT tends to have a stronger association with SES than grades (despite greater grade inflation in higher SES schools). Similarly, with ECs, playing on an expensive travel sports team may be associated with different SES levels versus working to help support one's family. Of course, legacy and development are associated with higher SES.

    Adjusting the weight given to such criteria with an eye on how it affects the SES levels of the admit class can be used by colleges to tune the SES distribution of the admit class without having to be need-aware for individual applicants.
    edited September 13
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  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing 2152 replies101 threadsForum Champion Williams College Forum Champion
    When the child of a single-parent immigrant who cleans houses for a living spends every day at college hanging out with the child of a Broadway producer, sometimes accompanied by friends at many socioeconomic levels in between, you know that a college has achieved something beautiful with its efforts at socioeconomic diversity. That is one real-life example among many.

    There are many stories, like original post for this thread, that note limitations and failures of colleges’ efforts to diversify. But there are also stories of the successes, like the admissions counselor in the original post who went to Skidmore and the Williams kids I described above.
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  • CateCAParentCateCAParent 188 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @theloniusmonk - how many years out from college graduation is the social mobility measured?

    The drive for diversity has been trending mostly in the past decade (guessing), right? It would take a while for improvements to be reflected in the social mobility data.

    Just thinking that both positions are likely - yes, the elites suck at social mobility, and yes, they realize it and they are trying to improve.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29422 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The first mission of academia (and Admissions offices) is to get the top candidates regardless of ability to pay. I stand by that. Affluence, SES and academic excellence are direct relationships. Yes, there are outliers, but the graphs are are steady and the correlation is absolutely there.

    I have dealt with the most selective schools for many years, and personally have seen this consistently throughout the years. I’ve sat on scholarship committees and when SES, financial need are taken out of the picture, it’s clear that those who do not need the funds are the ones who easily qualify for them except once in a great while. There are some ugly truths that out there regarding who indeed are the best picks.

    The universities’ missions in outreach are secondary to the pursuit of academic excellence. Even so, the schools get criticized from deviating from this mission by having diversity in SES, color, ethnicity as a component of the admissions process. URM as flagged category is bitterly resented. The very top schools can find the cream of the crop including diversity, but as the school selectivity drops, it becomes more difficult to make the balance.

    The drop out rate among those who are not well prepared for rigorous college work is high as compared to those who are. I’ve seen this time and again. When the situation is laid out, those who feel the schools are not doing enough to promote social mobility scream the deck is stacked. They are. But long before these students get to college. And working on clearing the deck simply cannot happen soon enough.

    So it’s not just the expenditure of funds that is at issue here but addressing the first mission of the university — that of academic excellence.

    But for schools like Trinity, there is the funding issue as well. Harvard has no problem filling its seats with top students who can pay full price. In fact, even those who can’t, will have family members raid the pension, sell the house, borrow, even to sell an organ, to pay for their kids to go there. Not so, these smaller, lesser known schools with a history of academic excellence that want to continue. These days, the costs have risen, demographics have shifted, so that these schools are having to hustle.

    My question is what schools like Trinity can do to remain viable. How can they keep up their mission, Mel the school going?
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  • CateCAParentCateCAParent 188 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Here's the link to the methodology for the USNWR social mobility ranking:
    https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/how-us-news-calculated-the-rankings

    Is that where your numbers come from?

    All it measures is the 6 year graduation rate of Pell Grant recipients. It fiddles with the number a bit, comparing it to non-Pell Grant recipients and giving a boost to those school with larger percentages of Pell Grant recipients in their student body.

    So it seems to be duplicative of the evaluation in this thread -- that the elites don't seem to get the lower SES kids in the door. They opt for state schools instead. I don't think you can conclude that it is on purpose just from that. Or, I don't know how this works, honestly, if the kid gets a full ride at Harvard, do they even bother getting Pell Grants? That would skew the data.
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 12871 replies242 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I don't know how this works, honestly, if the kid gets a full ride at Harvard, do they even bother getting Pell Grants? That would skew the data.

    Pell would always be part of a "full ride" (which H doesn't offer since there is always a student contribution expected, of several thousand dollars).
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  • CateCAParentCateCAParent 188 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Ah. Got it. Thanks. Does that mean the Pell grant IS the student contribution? And is that the way it works everywhere?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78229 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    No, colleges assume that students will get the government Pell Grant if eligible.

    Student contribution is student loan and/or expected student work earnings (may be offered work study).
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2433 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 14
    "The drive for diversity has been trending mostly in the past decade (guessing), right? It would take a while for improvements to be reflected in the social mobility data."

    The drive for diversity has been going on for a while, recall the first case challenging Affirmative Action was 1978 (Bakke vs UC Davis med school).

    "So it’s not just the expenditure of funds that is at issue here but addressing the first mission of the university — that of academic excellence."

    Well athletes for one, totally throw a wrench in your academic excellence theory. The Harvard lawsuit pretty much confirms that you do not need to be an academic superstar to get in if you're an athlete. It doesn't mean that athletes have bad grades or anything like that. I can also factually state the same for Stanford. So that's 15% of the class that's not evaluated on academic excellence.
    edited September 14
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 12871 replies242 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 15
    Ah. Got it. Thanks. Does that mean the Pell grant IS the student contribution? And is that the way it works everywhere?

    No. Pell is just included along with the grants given by the college (and/or state). Student contribution would be summer work and during-school work-study job. I think Harvard expects about $4k per year from the student specifically, even when the family finances result in their expected contribution being zero.

    However, if a low income student gets a merit scholarship, Pell is stacked on top of that. Just not with need-based aid.
    edited September 15
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