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Double Legacy, if I don't apply early to Harvard, am I making a mistake?

senior123abcsenior123abc 0 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
Both parents went to Harvard, I want to make a stronger app with my first semester grades, not sure I can get in and not 100% sure Harvard is for me. If I don't apply EA, am I making a mistake?
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Replies to: Double Legacy, if I don't apply early to Harvard, am I making a mistake?

  • dropbox77177dropbox77177 266 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2217 replies36 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Many schools only give applicants the legacy boost if they apply in the ED or SCEA round.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 39207 replies6994 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    If I don't apply EA, am I making a mistake?
    Yes. Unless you have a clear, affordable, first-choice college which gives an admissions boost to applicants applying ED/EA. But don't be compelled to apply to Harvard just because your parents went. While Harvard is a great school, it is not for everybody,and there are a number of equally good (and in some cases, better) universities.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34100 replies376 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    This is OP's only post on CC. We can't tell him/her whether there's a shot, ED or RD. It takes more than double legacy.
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  • JHSJHS 18399 replies72 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Yes. Unless you have a clear, affordable, first-choice college which gives an admissions boost to applicants applying ED/EA.

    Skieurope knows a lot, and is very smart, and is very reliable, so I hesitate to express anything like disagreement with him or her. That said, the above answer could have started with "No" just as well as "Yes," and I am going to suggest that it should have.

    First, putting aside the loaded term "first-choice", almost everyone has one (or more) top-choice college that gives more of an admissions boost than Harvard does to applicants applying ED (especially) or EA. That's because essentially every college with an ED program gives more of an admissions boost to ED applicants than Harvard does to SCEA applicants. And lots of colleges with EA programs, if they are meaningfully less selective than Harvard (i.e., not Stanford, Yale, Princeton, MIT, or Chicago EA), also give more of a boost to EA applicants. In many cases, that top-choice college, or one among those colleges, is as affordable as Harvard, and some may be more affordable (That depends on your family financial situation, and which college it is, and what its merit aid policies are, etc. There's no way to shortcut or simplify that analysis.)

    So . . . if you want an admissions boost from an early application, almost anywhere else in the world will give you more of one than Harvard. You have to ask yourself whether Harvard is so clearly your first choice, and your prospects of admission so good, that it's worth forgoing the opportunity to get a bigger boost elsewhere. (And also whether you are willing to apply ED, a complicated question.)

    Second, my observed experience (which is far from comprehensive) is that people who get admitted SCEA to Harvard are really clear admits, people who have some very compelling reason why they should be admitted. Everyone else, including the vast majority of legacy applicants, gets deferred to the RD round anyway. You think your first semester grades are going to improve your application -- that looks like you don't think your case for admission is clearly compelling. (You may be wrong about that, by the way. Your personal qualities are more important than your grades per se. Be honest in your analysis.)

    So if you don't think your case for admission is clearly compelling, you are effectively betting not that you will be admitted SCEA, but that having applied SCEA will give you a boost in the RD round.

    There are lots of reasons to believe that Harvard cares less than almost anywhere else at the RD stage whether applicants originally applied early. Other colleges do care about that, because they care about their "yield" -- the percentage of accepted students who enroll. Applying early tips the college off that it is your first choice, and if it accepts you, you are very likely to take the offer and enroll. Harvard has so few of the students it accepts declining to enroll, that it really doesn't need to worry about that. Especially for legacies. Effectively, it knows that if it accepts you, you will probably come, whether or not you applied somewhere else early. I don't think there's any RD boost at Harvard for having applied SCEA originally.

    Third, some colleges (notably Penn) say explicitly that they don't give a legacy boost to any legacy applicant who has not applied ED. Harvard has never said anything like that, and I believe they haven't said it because they really don't care whether you apply SCEA.

    Bottom line: I don't think at Harvard you clearly get more of a legacy boost SCEA than you would as an RD applicant. If you apply SCEA to Harvard, you are likely giving up an ED admissions boost at some college you like almost as much as you like Harvard. Don't do that without thinking hard about it.








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  • dropbox77177dropbox77177 266 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited September 17
    Just FYI. the Harvard litigation revealed legacy admit rates by academic strength, relative to the general applicant pool. Legacy students in the mid-range of Harvard's general applicant pool were admitted at rates of around 25-30%, while the weakest 20% saw admit rates of 5-10% and the very strongest 20% around 55-60%.

    So, clearly academics are not the only factor, as even the top group only saw admit rates of around 60% (I estimate this group as the GPA 4.0 + >SAT 1570 crowd). In addition to all the other holistic factors, the level of the parents' involvement and donations over the years presumably plays a role as well. Of those few students who are admitted having stats that place them in the bottom 10% of the applicant pool, more than 93% were legacy or donor/development candidates (or both). Statistically, double legacies had an additional boost over those general numbers, but that advantage was not specifically quantified.

    I would imagine that if you are in the ballpark on academics, but an additional semester of strong grades would seal the deal, then Harvard would defer you to the regular decision round. Thus, under most plausible scenarios, applying SCEA would appear to be little risk, and carry some potential benefit that no one is going to be able to quantify for you.

    The downside of course is "burning" any ED bonus that you might get at a less selective school. But, of course, if you apply ED somewhere, you have effectively given up your chance to go to Harvard. (Again, under most plausible scenarios - any high SES candidate strong enough to be admitted in the RD round at Harvard will very likely be admitted to a strategically chosen and less selective ED school.)
    edited September 17
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78226 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The downside of course is "burning" any ED bonus that you might get at a less selective school. But, of course, if you apply ED somewhere, you have effectively given up your chance to go to Harvard.

    Note that Harvard EA also prevents applying EA to other US private schools: https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/apply/first-year-applicants
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22960 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    How much do you think your first semester grades can really help you? You are counting on one semester to improve the GPA of 6 semesters?
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3483 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Double legacy does indeed offer greater benefit over single legacy. This is quantified in the Arcidiacono report. I'm not allowed to link the report here, but it can be easily found on Google. The relevant parts are on page 66.
    Using the predictions of the preferred model and the same comparison as previously — an Asian male who is not disadvantaged with a 25% chance of admission would see his probability of admission rise to 79% if he was a white legacy and 87% if he was a white double legacy.

    The magnitude of this effect is laid out in Table B.7.2. The logit estimates are shown for single legacy applicants vs double legacy. The report is written in a confusing manner, so I'm having trouble figuring out how to interpret these values.
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  • jzducoljzducol 732 replies12 threadsRegistered User Member
    25% chance of admission is very significant. I don't even know if there is a formula out there for calculating chances at Harvard. But statistically, I think an ACT 36/SAT 1580 with 4.0GPA etc gives about 25% chance, if that much.
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1381 replies7 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If you apply REA, you theoretically might get 2 bites at the apple. So, in general, seems like a better move.

    What you might be giving up is applying EA or ED at a private school where you either or both boost your chances or secure an acceptance before year end. You also may or may not be able to craft better essays with the extra time. You could also have a very out of the box, "go big or go home" essay that you might want to try out elsewhere. Let's say you apply to Princeton, Yale or another competitive EA school that defers a lot of students (assuming your stats are in the ballpark). If you get in, the essay "worked", if you got outright rejected, you probably should rethink that essay. If you got deferred, it's probably not so terrible, but maybe there is room for improvement.

    Harvard is not like Penn where you lose your legacy boost by not applying ED/EA, so if you think you will be able to submit a stronger app RD that is not just based on first semester grades or other things you can naturally update, I might wait.
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2181 replies3 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Harvard is a good school, but it helps most to shop around for a school that works for you. Legacy or not, it's not easy to get into and you need to apply to a variety of realistic schools. Harvard is not the same school it was when your parents went there.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3483 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @jzducol wrote:
    I don't even know if there is a formula out there for calculating chances at Harvard.

    This is a simple but yet difficult question to answer. Two leading economists (Card and Arcidiacono) were tasked with analyzing data from Harvard admissions predict the odds of admission. The Arcidiacono report that I mention above provides regression coefficients. These are basically ways to mathematically weigh each of the many factors that goes into an admissions decision. If the model is done correctly, it is possible to create a mathematical formula that spits out the odds of admission.

    Now the report has been redacted, so I'm having trouble piecing together everything. But it is clear that the following factors provide a huge advantage when applying: recruited athlete, Dean's Interest list, child of faculty, legacy, XXXXX race, early application, XXXX ethnicity, High academic index, and disadvantaged status. There are also many other factors that don't seem to have an impact.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34100 replies376 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    No advantage if OP doesn't "match" what H looks for.

    But OP has been gone two weeks.
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  • jazzingjazzing 20 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    sgopal2, I'm not sure why you conclude that EA confers a huge advantage. I have heard multiple times from admissions officers, the dean, and the director of admissions that it is not easier to get in by applying early. Just because a larger percentage of EA applicants are admitted doesn't mean that it's easier to get in. EA includes most recruited athletes and many LDC applicants.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3483 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @jazzing: This is exactly what statistical modeling can do. There are a multitude of factors that goes into an admissions decision. The beauty of statistical modeling is that it is possible to isolate one specific factor (in this case early action application) while holding the other variables constant. I know this is difficult to understand, so I'll try to break it down into simpler terms.

    So in the case that you mention above, it is possible to understand how the odds of admission change when applying early (while keeping athletic status, legacy, etc constant).

    Aracidiacono concluded that early action application does confer an advantage, even above and apart from other factors. The magnitude of this is quantified in Table B.7.2:
    Factor		Coeff	Odds		Pct Chance
    Athlete		8.532	5070.097696	506910%
    FACTOR1		3.33	27.92869714	2693%
    Deans Interest	2.307	10.04184438	904%
    Legacy		2.058	7.828622885	683%
    Faculty Child	1.822	6.183046352	518%
    FACTOR2		1.7	5.472982621	447%
    Disadvantaged	1.364	3.911256096	291%
    Early Decision	1.333	3.791879433	279%
    Academic Index	0.609	1.838475795	84%
    Double Legacy	0.607	1.834802899	83%
    Fee Waiver	0.598	1.818365457	82%
    Female		0.145	1.15602219	16%
    Applied FA	0.143	1.153712696	15%
    First Gen	0.074	1.076798544	8%
    FACTOR3		-0.436	0.646646958	-35%
    

    I rearranged from highest odds to lowest odds. I had to redact several factors due to the restrictions in place here at CC. Arcidiacono uses the term "early decision" but if you read the report, he really means "early action". But you can see that early action application increases the odds of admission by 3.79, an absolute increase of 279%. This is independent of the other factors listed.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3483 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Here are some more factors from the same table. A few that surprised me was that choice of major doesn't seem to have a major impact on odds of admission at Harvard. The one exception is mathematics and biology -- which seem to be correlated to different factors (which we're not allowed to discuss here).

    The other interesting thing is that legacy combined with factor2 and factor3 are associated with a worse odds of admission.
    Factor			Coeff	Odds		Pct Chance
    Legacy x FACTOR3	0.635	1.886897905	89%
    Female x comp sci	0.282	1.325739956	33%
    Female x FACTOR3	0.202	1.223822376	22%
    Female x math		0.17	1.185283959	19%
    Disadvantaged x FACTOR3	0.17	1.185283959	19%
    Female x unspecified	0.141	1.151407815	15%
    Female x humanities	0.077	1.080033454	8%
    Engineering		0.076	1.078954072	8%
    Female x engineering	0.053	1.054423851	5%
    Female x FACTOR2	0.038	1.03872714	4%
    Humanities		0.018	1.018161076	2%
    Female x FACTOR1	0.01	1.01004912	1%
    ED x FACTOR3		-0.021	0.979221097	-2%
    Phys Sciences		-0.027	0.973363966	-3%
    ED x FACTOR2		-0.029	0.971419385	-3%
    Female x Phys Sci	-0.079	0.924047493	-8%
    Female x biology	-0.096	0.908473059	-9%
    Comp Sci		-0.105	0.900334324	-10%
    Unspecified major	-0.105	0.900334324	-10%
    ED x FACTOR1		-0.11	0.895844353	-10%
    Mathematics		-0.136	0.872854941	-13%
    Biology			-0.14	0.869370855	-13%
    Disadvantaged x FACTOR2	-0.5	0.606562104	-39%
    Legacy x FACTOR2	-0.845	0.429594995	-57%
    Legacy x FACTOR1	-1.166	0.31164857	-69%
    Disadvantaged x FACTOR1	-1.531	0.216353581	-78%
    
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1381 replies7 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^But does the modelling take into account subjective factors that are driven by the essays? Students applying Harvard (or anywhere else REA) probably have that school as their top choice and are more likely writing essays that better resonate with the AO. No question S wrote better essays for his SCEA school. Many of the essays for other schools were going to be derivative of these.
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  • jpm50jpm50 1245 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    > Both parents went to Harvard, I want to make a stronger app with my
    > first semester grades, not sure I can get in and not 100% sure Harvard
    > is for me. If I don't apply EA, am I making a mistake?

    @senior123abc:
    The most important thing is to do what's right for you.

    Can you go through life never knowing if you got into Harvard on your own merits, or if your parents' legacy was needed to seal the deal?
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  • Data10Data10 2948 replies8 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 5
    Here are some more factors from the same table. A few that surprised me was that choice of major doesn't seem to have a major impact on odds of admission at Harvard. The one exception is mathematics and biology -- which seem to be correlated to different factors (which we're not allowed to discuss here).
    Most of these coefficients for planned area of concentration appear to be below statistical significance. As such many have very different degrees of magnitude or event direction, depending on nuances of the modeling used. For example, female + CS was listed as one of the highest coefficients in the table above. However, if you instead look at the original model (first document, not rebuttal) with unhooked baseline + full controls (model 6), then the coefficient changes to -0.019 = 0.98 odds ratio... the opposite direction and far below any measure of statistical significance.
    The other interesting thing is that legacy combined with factor2 and factor3 are associated with a worse odds of admission.
    I noted this effect as well. I believe it relates to the combined strength of two hooks is generally weaker than the effect predicted by the strength of each hook individually. Rather than creating a superhook for kids with multiple strong hooks, the effects tend to be blunted. For example, recruited athletes who are also legacies may not see a huge boost in chance of admission over recruited athletes who are not legacies. If the legacy benefit is indeed weaker for recruited athletes than otherwise unhooked legacies, then it follows that an interaction variable for recruited athlete + legacy, it would be a strong negative. Similarly I'd expect interaction variables between legacy + other hooks to be negative.
    But does the modelling take into account subjective factors that are driven by the essays? Students applying Harvard (or anywhere else REA) probably have that school as their top choice and are more likely writing essays that better resonate with the AO. No question S wrote better essays for his SCEA school. Many of the essays for other schools were going to be derivative of these.
    The models indirectly consider essays, as reflected by how they impact category ratings given to the applicants. With any model, two important factors to consider are how much variance the model explains, and the statistical significance of the conclusion. Both sides of the lawsuit created models that explained the majority of variance in Harvard's admissions decisions. While the models are by no means perfect, they generally work well. Some of the regression coefficients reached statistical significance, and some did not. For example, earlier in this post, I mentioned that preference for planned area of concentration generally did not reach significance. However, preference for recruited athlete was extremely significant. We can say with near certainty that Harvard has an extreme preference for recruited athletes, even though the model is not perfect.

    The preference for SCEA was far weaker than the preference for recruited athlete, but also reaches statistical significance. All 12 models (6 models in original publication + 6 models in regression) show a reasonably similar and noteworthy preference for SCEA. Effects of factors not included in the model, such as your essay resonating in a way that is not reflected in AO ratings example, are reflected in a higher standard error and decreased confidence level. If my math is right, the confidence level of a preference for SCEA is significant at the 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999% level . This is a higher confidence level that the preference for legacy, faculty/staff kid, dean's special interest list, and numerous other powerful hooks. While these LDC hooks appear to be stronger than the preference for SCEA, they also have a higher standard error, with an apparent more variable degree of benefit for the hook. SCEA is weaker, but appears to have a more consistent degree of benefit for the hook among different individual applicants, so the confidence level is higher.
    edited October 5
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