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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?

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83873 replies744 threads Senior Member
    edited January 2019
    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.
    edited January 2019
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  • COSpgsparentCOSpgsparent 167 replies1 threads 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.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83873 replies744 threads 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
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  • MWolfMWolf 2776 replies14 threads Senior 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.
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  • SatchelSFSatchelSF 1372 replies13 threads Senior Member
    edited January 2019
    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.
    edited January 2019
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1668 replies8 threads Senior Member
    ^ Agree between 2 equally qualified candidates that legacy is a significant advantage at most schools that provide a preference. Curious if the Harvard data shows whether or not as a group, legacy admits have lower test scores and gpa as weighted by Harvard or overall lower academic score compared to non legacy admits, maybe stripping out athletic recruits and URM's from both sides of the equation.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35417 replies399 threads Senior Member
    edited January 2019
    How did this thread turn into anti-legacy?

    The fact that legacies may have a better admit rate does not incontrovertably prove this is mere "preference." Frankly, you'd need to see a broad range of apps to understand why just being a top performer in hs isn't enough. You'd need to take a hard look at the sorts of questions in the app and supps, to see the "more" a kid can present. More often, they just don't hit the mark.

    One big difference is that legacies start with an understanding of what that college offers, academically and other. And if they don't, there's no rubber stamp that gets them in. The top colleges aren't afraid to say no to a legacy who doesn't cut it.
    edited January 2019
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  • skieuropeskieurope 41077 replies7725 threads Super Moderator
    The thread has gone off-topic, and really should not have been revived since the OP asked the question in September. Closing.
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