right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

"Race" in College Applications FAQ & Discussion 12

1190191193195196240

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

  • CU123CU123 3621 replies69 threads Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus that is a lot of assumptions, specifically "that applicants of comparable achievement are likely to have higher potential" in reference to legacies.
    · Reply · Share
  • CU123CU123 3621 replies69 threads Senior Member
    BTW, every time you group people/stereotype (e.g. legacy/race/religion/ethnicity/etc.) your failing the individual who may or may not share the traits of the group. Just because someone is more likely than not to have some characteristic hardly makes them have that characteristic. We make this too easy to do and then we apply it to everyone in the particular group.
    · Reply · Share
  • Data10Data10 3061 replies9 threads Senior Member
    edited February 11
    His essay was on identity and race as someone mentioned earlier, maybe in the interview he went into it in more detail.
    I was referring the activity supplement and summer activities essays/statements, not the common app essay. The research may be mentioned in the engineering essay as well, if he plans to pursue engineering. The instructions are quoted below, from Princeton's admissions website. If the applicant chooses not to elaborate on the research in any of these essays/statements, and it's also not mentioned in the interview or LORs, then that can also be telling.

    Activities Supplement
    "Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences that was particularly meaningful to you. (Response required in about 150 words.)"

    Summer Activities
    "Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held. (Response required in about 150 words.)"

    Engineering Essay
    "please write a 300-500 word essay describing why you are interested in studying engineering, any experiences in or exposure to engineering you have had and how you think the programs in engineering offered at Princeton suit your particular interests."
    edited February 11
    · Reply · Share
  • Data10Data10 3061 replies9 threads Senior Member
    @Data10 I'm going to assume you interview for S but nonetheless I don't think you interview for P. I think institutionally schools will look at research achievements differently. I think P values most research equally as it assumes 70%+ of students are going to change majors based on what they thought they'd major in when they applied. Possibly M, S and others value more intense, passionate research as their major switch rate is lower.
    No, I don't interview for Princeton. Looking at comments by persons who do interview at Princeton and applicants who have had interviews, a common theme seems to be talking about passions and elaborating on activities beyond what is listed in the application questions. I think it's likely that the research would come up as a topic of discussion during the interview.

    The college I interview for doesn't have a specific set of rules about research, such as try to evaluate research in more detail. Instead I am instructed to evaluate applicants on a group of characteristics that are extremely similar to what the website says they are looking for in applicants. For each criteria, I write a summary about how the applicant meets that criteria and give a numerical rating. The research sounds like an interesting and meaningful activity that would be a good example of multiple evaluation criteria, so if I were interviewing, I'd be likely to ask questions and try to get the applicant to go in to more detail.

    Princeton as well as other HYPSM... colleges make it easy to switch between majors, so a lot of students do switch majors. However, I'd expect many of these switches are to similar fields. For example, a prospective EE major who has never taken an EE course during HS might switch to a CS major at some point during college. The same Princeton quote that mentions they high major change rate also mentions, "The only exception is for students who indicate that they will be applying to the bachelor’s program in the arts or in science and engineering. Within those two programs, they are encouraged to explore the academic offerings until they declare their majors after either their freshman year in science and engineering or their sophomore year in the bachelor of arts program." As such, while Princeton may not be as big on being passionate about their prospective field as certain other colleges, they still want students who appear to be highly capable in their prospective field of study and likely to stay in the general engineering/science area. And I'd expect they still would be interested in hearing more about the research. The essay/statements in my previous posts seem to direct such elaboration, and I think it would also be likely to come up during the interview. Several comments on the Princeton admissions website hint at wanting detail about such activities.
    · Reply · Share
  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1451 replies35 threads Senior Member
    @DeepBlue86 I agree that keeping legacy preferences benefits these colleges and they're surely doing it for their own benefit. The downside is that they're not getting the best students because of this policy. MIT and Caltech don't consider an applicant's legacy status because they believe, correctly I might add, that the qualities of their student bodies would suffer if they had incorporated legacy consideration into their admission processes.
    · Reply · Share
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF 1372 replies13 threads Senior Member
    edited February 11
    The downside is that they're not getting the best students because of this policy.
    If too many of the best students are accepted, the overall atmosphere for the preference admits would become uncomfortable. No one wants to feel outclassed. HYPS probably has this about right for their purposes. Roughly 20% extremely strong students (including a small percentage - maybe 3-5% - of the truly extraordinary), and the vast majority of the remaining 80% still very strong, capable students. Everyone can find a comfortable place.

    In other words, not getting the maximum number possible of the best students in the country is a feature, not a bug.
    edited February 11
    · Reply · Share
  • calmomcalmom 20617 replies167 threads Senior Member
    edited February 11
    The downside is that they're not getting the best students because of this policy

    That really depends on your definition of "best" --not the college's.

    I think most of the Ivies & equivalent colleges place high value on social and interpersonal qualities like leadership. They may also value other difficulty-to-quantify qualities, such as artistic talent.

    They aren't accepting students based on legacy alone -- they are just giving some well-qualified legacy students a bump over equally well-qualified unhooked students. Because they don't have room for all the well-qualified students who apply, so they make the choices based on their own agenda or needs.

    None of these colleges are looking to pick the "best" students-- they are looking to assemble the "best" class. And that means a class that fits their model of what each year's entering group should look like, not the particular qualities of individual students.
    edited February 11
    · Reply · Share
  • Data10Data10 3061 replies9 threads Senior Member
    edited February 11
    I think that athletes, legacies and wealthy donors add more to the campus than affirmative action recruits because the affirmative action recruits are the culturally same upper middle to upper class type of person like everyone else just with a different skin color.
    The Harvard lawsuit and freshman survey provides some specific numbers, which are quoted below. Roughly 1/3 of admitted unhooked URMs at Harvard are below Harvard's SES "disadvantaged" threshold, which is higher than other races. The difference becomes larger when including hooks. 41% of Hispanics report being first generation, which is far more than other races. However, it's true that while the percentage of disadvantaged URMs is larger than other races, only a minority of URMs are SES "disadvantaged." In contrast, SES disadvantaged legacies were almost nonexistent and were far wealthier than any of the non-legacy racial groups, as a whole.

    It's also interesting that the SES preference does not appear to be applied to URMs in the same way it does to ORMs. Part of this effect likely relates to a maximum hook boundary for non-athlete hooks. At some point, you can't push the scales further in to combining multiple hooks into a huge superhook and need to insure that the students are qualified. There appears to be almost exactly 0 benefit for being "disadvantaged" among Black applicants, as if the flag is not considered. This fits with Black being the only race for which the portion of disadvantage admits was lower than the portion disadvantage applicants.

    Percent of unhooked applicants and admits who are SES "disadvantaged*"
    White -- 6.4% of White applicants, 14.6% of White admits
    Asian -- 10.8% of Asian applicants, 21.9% of Asian admits
    Hispanic -- 24.3% of Hispanic applicants, 37.4% of Hispanic admits
    Black -- 29.2% of Black applicants, 28.5% of Black admits
    *Harvard's definition of SES "disadvantaged" seems to correlate with less than ~median US income

    Regression Coefficients for Disadvantaged, Unhooked and Full Controls
    White and Disadvantaged = +1.5, White and not Disadvantaged = 0
    Asian and Disadvantaged = +1.35, Asian and not Disadvantaged = -0.3
    Hispanic and Disadvantaged = +3.0, Hispanic and not Disadvantaged = +2.0
    Black and Disadvantaged = +3.9, Black and not Disadvantaged = +3.9

    Percent First Gen: Freshman Survey
    White -- 10%
    Asian -- 15%
    Hispanic -- 41%
    Black -- 24%

    Legacy Reported Income: Freshman Survey
    >$500k income -- 46%
    >$250k income -- 79%
    SES "Disadvantaed" -- ~1%
    edited February 11
    · Reply · Share
  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1451 replies35 threads Senior Member
    That really depends on your definition of "best" --not the college's.
    No. I would use the college's own definition. Had they not considered legacy status, they would have admitted some unhooked students in place of some of these legacies (with the college's own standards other than their legacy preferences). Wouldn't they?
    · Reply · Share
  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1451 replies35 threads Senior Member
    If too many of the best students are accepted, the overall atmosphere for the preference admits would become uncomfortable. No one wants to feel outclassed.
    That may be so. But perhaps some of them just don't belong? Best ideas usually originate in places where talents congregate. Ideas are more easily disseminated, exchanged and challenged. Highly uneven student body also inevitably lowers the overall quality of classroom instructions, and causes grade inflation.
    · Reply · Share
  • calmomcalmom 20617 replies167 threads Senior Member
    edited February 11
    Given the high income of the legacy students, it could be that part of the preference is correlated to the desire/need to attract a core level of full-pay students. So it may be that legacy status would not confer a particular advantage without the tie-in of the academic advantage. I don't know how legacy preferences actually work, but I'm wondering if ad coms might also communicate with their alumni association on legacy applicants, to at least verify the level of contact/activity with the alumni parent.

    I found some confirmation of my suspicion that the colleges dig a little deeper here:
    At Stanford, once an application indicates some sort of legacy connection, it is sent over to alumni relations, who then look to see if the legacy relation exists in their database. Once they pull up this information, the adcoms will be able to see everything about this legacy relation, from his or her graduation year and major to the amount that he or she has donated.

    At some schools, if the legacy relation is a sibling of a similar age, the adcoms will actually pull up that sibling’s entire academic record and evaluate the applicant in comparison to his or her sibling. So here’s a heads-up: it helps to have similar (or better) stats as a legacy sibling, and it also helps if a legacy sibling is actually doing well in college.

    [For the full text of my source, Google "Legacy Demystified: How the People You Know Affect Your Admissions Decision" It's a blog post, so I can't link directly to it.]
    edited February 11
    · Reply · Share
  • Data10Data10 3061 replies9 threads Senior Member
    If too many of the best students are accepted, the overall atmosphere for the preference admits would become uncomfortable. No one wants to feel outclassed. HYPS probably has this about right for their purposes.
    HYPS... type colleges often have a variety of levels of the larger lower level classes to accommodate students of different academic backgrounds, abilities, and long term goals. Most also have freshman take a placement exam in multiple areas, which gives a recommendation of which course to choose. Students who want extra rigorous and challenging classes can choose them, and students who don't want to risk taking anything much beyond AP level can also choose less rigorous options. For example, a partial list of possible math classes a freshman might choose at Stanford are below. If you want a really rigorous treatment of the material, you can take math 61DM. If you don't want that rigorous level , you can instead choose Math 19, which sounds like it is not much above AP level.

    Math 19-21 -- 3 quarter version of single variable calculus
    Math 41-42 -- 2 quarter version of single variable calculus
    Math 51-53 -- differential and integral calculus in several variables, linear algebra, and ordinary differential equations
    Math 61-63M -- covers the material of the Math 50 series at a much more advanced level with an emphasis on rigorous proofs and conceptual arguments
    Math 61-63DM -- covers the same linear algebra material as the Math 60CM series and otherwise focuses on topics in discrete mathematics, algebra, and probability theory at an advanced level with an emphasis on rigorous proofs

    HYPS... type colleges also generally encourage a supportive and collaborative atmosphere, rather than a competitive one. This includes things like encouraging/expecting students to work together on problem sets, having no problem with giving the vast majority of the class A's if the vast majority do A quality work, favoring admitting students who display the desired cooperative and supporting other classmate traits, etc.

    When I was a student, I generally couldn't tell you who the top students in a particular class or my major were. For the most part, I didn't know what their grades were or how much/little they studies for exams. I didn't even known what the average grade was on exams within my major. I only knew how I did and a few of my friends did. Since then, I've seen grade surveys that suggest the vast majority of grades were A's. I've seen students go so far as to risk an honor code violation to encourage classmates who appeared to be struggling and/or have given up to keep going on exams. It did not seem like a competitive beat out your classmates type atmosphere.
    · Reply · Share
  • LadyMeowMeowLadyMeowMeow 257 replies17 threads Junior Member
    Some of the weaknesses in DeepBlue’s defense and illustration of legacy admissions as an Ayn Randian, upper-crust-privileging, inequality-reinforcing, anti-meritocratic process of social-capital pass-through are clear from the fact that no applicant could ever use any of his logic. It would give the lie to the sickening rhetoric of virtue-signaling that governs ivy admissions. Consider a DeepBlue-inspired essay from the forthright Chester Winthorpe McCash VII, written on embossed private-school letterhead and accompanied by an impressive sum of money:

    “Dear HYPS: You should accept me because I am the pure embodiment of your institutional needs and wants. I have Jared Kushner levels of social capital -- call him and ask. I’ll be a great “culture carrier” and an expert from day one at bending the system to my advantage. A lot of my friends will be accepted, too, so you could say that we’ve already begun networking, and can you imagine the power we’ll be able to amass once we leverage the resources of HYPS? I know you can and I’m counting on that. And what will I do with that power? Whatever I want, obviously, but I probably won’t bite the hand that feeds me. At least as long as it continues to feed me.

    I concede that there are kids at my school who have overcome difficulties, work harder, score higher, are more talented and driven, and are now and always will be fundamentally better people than I am, but you know, you can’t really compare individuals, right? Morality and deservedness don’t come into it! I love that! That’s the perfect value for me to spread from my HYPS-enhanced position of social power! And with me, unlike with those nervous, self-motivated achievatrons, you won’t have to worry about imposter syndrome. Can you imagine, a Winthorpe-McCash?! Ha ha ha! Finally, I need hardly remind you that accepting me will make Mother and Father pleased as punch, and, ahem, energize them to contribute in ways that are important to you. Just say the word and mention some numbers.”

    Basically I think DeepBlue has the story straight, but while he doesn’t mind defending this system as charming and rooted in tradition, I hate it. I see plenty of reasons why society should pressure top institutions to act more ethically. If that doesn't mean abolishing legacy preferences right away, it should, at a bare minimum, mean being honest about how all preferences like AA, legacy, etc. really work.
    · Reply · Share
  • calmomcalmom 20617 replies167 threads Senior Member
    Had they not considered legacy status, they would have admitted some unhooked students in place of some of these legacies (with the college's own standards other than their legacy preferences). Wouldn't they?

    They would have admitted some students who served some institutional goals in different ways, not necessarily "unhooked". And not necessarily with higher or better academic credentials or stats.


    · Reply · Share
  • DeepBlue86DeepBlue86 1055 replies6 threads Senior Member
    edited February 11
    My point was that, however valued being a legacy is to the college, it is not a student-earned characteristic, as opposed to one acquired by inheritance. And since legacy correlates to existing advantage otherwise (higher SES, etc.), it is likely that legacies are more likely to be achieving at their fullest potential than other applicants who may be less advantaged in various ways, so that other applicants of comparable achievement are likely to have higher potential.
    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. As for your second sentence, I would argue that legacies, on average, are actually in a much better position than, say, first-gens, to be high achievers in college, since they tend to be far better prepared academically and have superior support networks. A first-gen may transcend their background and, through grit and initiative, be admitted to a top-tier school, but plenty of them fail to adjust to what’s a dramatically different environment and either underperform or drop out. I’ll bet we all know people in that kind of unfortunate circumstance.
    I agree that keeping legacy preferences benefits these colleges and they're surely doing it for their own benefit. The downside is that they're not getting the best students because of this policy. MIT and Caltech don't consider an applicant's legacy status because they believe, correctly I might add, that the qualities of their student bodies would suffer if they had incorporated legacy consideration into their admission processes.
    As @SatchelSF says, filling their classes with the “best” students academically, however defined, isn’t what these places are about. If they did that, they wouldn’t be able to satisfy various other institutional imperatives - there’d be a lot fewer URMs, athletes, first-gens and people with special talents, for starters. These places are looking to educate tomorrow’s leaders in many areas, not just academia/research. They also need access and resources for their mission, which alumni engagement is very helpful in providing.

    Regarding MIT and Caltech, so often cited here, if, as with them, the preponderance of your operating budget is met by research grants, 90% or more of your undergrads are STEM majors, you’re focused almost to the exclusion of anything else to educating the leading scientists and technologists of tomorrow (a niche in which you have a dominant position), traditions and alumni relations aren’t major factors for you and, as such, you’re prepared to sustain a much narrower range of activities and departments than HYPS, diversity and legacy considerations probably won’t be very relevant to your thinking.
    edited February 11
    · Reply · Share
  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1451 replies35 threads Senior Member
    edited February 11
    They would have admitted some students who served some institutional goals in different ways, not necessarily "unhooked". And not necessarily with higher or better academic credentials or stats.
    I don't understand your logic. Are you saying all these otherwise-"unqualified" legacies would be replaced by other hooked groups such as athletic recruits or URMs, or some other new hooked group the college may choose to create?
    edited February 11
    · Reply · Share
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF 1372 replies13 threads Senior Member
    edited February 11
    I'm glad that the conversation has taken this turn and led to this place. I love the essay of @LadyMeowMeow above. I am actually not so sure that it wouldn't work. The adcom reader is basically an HR person - they will run that sort of essay up to someone who matters - if the application hadn't already been taken away from them and fast-tracked already.

    Here is the bottom line. Holistic admissions is designed to cement the existing status quo. Think of it in those terms, and you won't go wrong in your analysis.
    edited February 11
    · Reply · Share
  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1451 replies35 threads Senior Member
    Regarding MIT and Caltech, so often cited here, if, as with them, the preponderance of your operating budget is met by research grants.
    Research grants, whether public or private, have dedicate purposes. They're more, not less, restricted than most donations. MIT and Caltech would surely love to have more donations. Who wouldn't? But there's a price to be paid.
    · Reply · Share
  • DeepBlue86DeepBlue86 1055 replies6 threads Senior Member
    LadyMeow, I hope your daughter’s enjoying her Yale education (that’s where she is, right?), made possible by untold numbers of these people you drip with contempt for.
    · Reply · Share
  • DeepBlue86DeepBlue86 1055 replies6 threads Senior Member
    @1NJParent - the point is that the principal funding source for the activities in which MIT, a research juggernaut focused almost exclusively on STEM fields, chooses to engage is research grants. This is in contrast to Harvard, which has a much larger overall budget and spread of activities and departments, but can’t rely on research funds to the extent of MIT, in part because it isn’t the tippy-top STEM institution MIT is, but also because many of Harvard’s activities are not in areas where there are huge research dollars available. Accordingly, Harvard has to rely to a much greater extent than MIT on endowment distributions and fundraising, which require engaged alumni.
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity