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Do I have to be an absolute superstar to get into any of the Ivy League?


Replies to: Do I have to be an absolute superstar to get into any of the Ivy League?

  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,836 Senior Member
    Again...their first concern is the four years there. Not some rare prodigies who may someday be superstars. They don't work with a crystal ball. These kids are 17. You either show the traits they want *and* the record, or save your "dreams."
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,167 Senior Member
    It's not about the individual so much as building an interesting class.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,836 Senior Member
    Thst starts with individuals.
  • BKSquaredBKSquared Registered User Posts: 1,073 Senior Member
    Agree with @Nocreativity1 . The elites are trying to build a complete community that they feel is optimal for the college experience they want to provide academically and socially. This does not mean every kid is a national award winner, published in national journals or has played in Carnegie Hall. Among my classmates and among my son's friends, the common theme is that these people are all very smart (perhaps brilliant in some subjects, less so in others) and at least through high school were focused and ambitious. Sure there is a percentage of students with super high achievements who were "no-brainers" in the admissions decisions (they are also likely cross admits to other elite schools) but I suspect a vast majority of those who made it to "Committee" (about 6,000) could just have easily gotten disappointing news in March.

    I also want to address the "legacy" point. As far as Yale is concerned, the AO makes it clear that as a group, legacy admits on average have higher scores and grades than non-legacies. It shouldn't be a surprise that the legacy "pool" of applicants is going to be stronger than the general pool. You can attribute that to either or both nature (smart parent(s)) or nurture (higher SES, education valued in household). It follows that the legacy admit rate is higher because the pool is stronger. Except for true development cases, the days of lowering standards for legacies have passed.

    I linked this in one of the Yale threads, but it is also appropriate here. There is a good deal of truth in it. https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2018/12/07/a-letter-from-the-committee-that-reviewed-your-yale-application/
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,285 Senior Member
    edited January 22
    I take a cynical view of the Ivy League perhaps, having two degrees and literally dozens of friends and hundreds of acquaintances and colleagues from HYPSM.

    20% of the class at any given school is extraordinary. The other 80% are merely good. Pareto nailed it.
  • Nocreativity1Nocreativity1 Registered User Posts: 748 Member
    SaychelSF- welcome back and glad your cynicism persists. I would imagine your hundreds of Ivy acquaintances would be disappointed to know that you only rate them as good😀
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,285 Senior Member
    @Nocreativity1 - Thanks, and the key is to never let on which you think are the merely good and which are the extraordinary!
  • Ozzy08Ozzy08 Registered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
    You need to show you're uniqueness and why you will be valuable to the university
  • MWolfMWolf Registered User Posts: 390 Member
    edited January 22
    The private elite schools want to maintain their statuses and reputations, as well as the particular character of that school and the "educational experience" of the students, while also maintaining and increasing their endowments. They will select students based on the competing requirements of each of these.

    Public school, including elite one, such as UCB or UMich are also beholden to the residents of their state.

    Research universities are also interested in research reputation, productivity and grant money, but these don't affect undergrad admissions all that much.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 73,616 Senior Member
    edited January 22
    MWolf wrote:
    By the time it comes to college application, poor kids are so far behind that they cannot even think to compete for places in an elite school, including relatively cheap public schools like UCB, UCLA, or UMichigan.

    But note that different states and universities have different education policies regarding how much they emphasize opportunity for those from low SES families. Pell grant percentages:

    28% UCB
    34% UCLA
    15% Michigan


    For comparison, about 32% of all undergraduates receive Pell grants, according to https://trends.collegeboard.org/student-aid/figures-tables/undergraduate-enrollment-and-percentage-receiving-pell-grants-over-time . This does suggest that students from the Pell grant household income range, which approximates the bottom half of the household income range in the US, are still underrepresented at colleges overall.
    MWolf wrote:
    Regarding legacies, well, they benefit schools financially, and the people who donate because they have three generations going to the same school have the financial clout to keep it in place. I don't think that it will disappear any time soon, so fighting against it is a waste of time and money.

    However, legacy is a correlate to family advantage (e.g. all legacies have at least one college educated parent), so giving admission preference to legacies (as Michigan does) means adding privilege to existing advantage in most cases.
  • COSpgsparentCOSpgsparent Registered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
    I think private institutions should be able to use legacy however the heck they want, but when taxpayer funds are involved, I don't how that's even legal. I mean, if a kid wants to use legacy info in an essay, fine, but legacy shouldn't give any kid a bump at a public institution.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 73,616 Senior Member
    I think private institutions should be able to use legacy however the heck they want, but when taxpayer funds are involved, I don't how that's even legal.

    Given the number of public universities that use legacy in admissions*, it is either legal or widely assumed to be in the absence of court decision saying otherwise.

    *For example, according to their collegedata.com entries (under Admissions), the following use "Relation with Alumnus" in admission:

    Colorado Mines
    Georgia Tech
    James Madison
    North Carolina
    North Carolina State
    Penn State
    Stony Brook
  • MWolfMWolf Registered User Posts: 390 Member
    Huh. I didn't think that public universities could use legacy status.
    @ucbalumnus - I'll modify: it is worthwhile fighting against legacy advantage at public schools. Unlike private schools, politicians do have a say in admissions, and residents can put pressure on the state government to end legacy preference in admissions. It just requires a good amount of pressure. Of course, it may be more difficult, since the main people who have gone to state flagships over the years are actually the middle class who couldn't afford the expensive private universities.
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,285 Senior Member
    edited January 23
    Legally, non-legacy is not a "protected class" for purposes of the Constitution. Therefore, a school need only show that discrimination against non-legacies in the admissions process is "rationally related" to some "legitimate" end. Technically, this sort of analysis only applies to government action anyway, but since private schools are so intermingled with government action (through regulation and funding), much of the legal analysis is applicable.

    (Contrast this "rational basis" review with the "strict scrutiny" accorded to discrimination on the basis of race or alienage, or with the "intermediate scrutiny" accorded discrimination based on sex.)

    Contrary to what many legacy parents and the schools themselves will typically say, for obvious reasons, legacy preferences are generally thought to be very large at most private schools. When there are exceptions, such as at MIT and Caltech, the schools seem to advertise that fact,

    In the recent Harvard litigation, regression analyses by Harvard's own Office of Institutional Research showed that legacies had an over 1100% (11.03 odds ratio) advantage as compared with similarly qualified non-legacies. See the Table here: http://samv91khoyt2i553a2t1s05i-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Doc-421-112-May-1-2013-Memorandum.pdf (one needs to exponentiate the coefficient to arrive at the odds ratio).

    The same document (Exhibit 4) showed that legacies merely in the top half of Harvard's applicant pool, as measured by scores and GPA, had an over 55% acceptance rate, as compared with less than 15% for non-legacies in that top half.

    I don't have the cite handy, but I believe that both Harvard's as well as plaintiff's experts also both found legacy preferences in that same ballpark when looking at later data than Harvard OIR did.

    It's a nice fantasy that legacy admits are just as strong or stronger than non-legacy admits, but the numbers - as well as common sense - support the opposite conclusion.
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