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High acceptance rate of children of politicians at Ivies

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Replies to: High acceptance rate of children of politicians at Ivies

  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33454 replies363 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Hmm, I rarely take CC threads as gospel.
    Merit is about the holistic criteria. How they choose to shape the final class is another construct, doesn't change the basic definition of merit, as the individual colleges see it. It's not "merit" to be rich or poor.
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  • lvvcsflvvcsf 2318 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 22
    In my view admissions to elite universities is not fair because the standards are not uniform. Being a child of a high ranking politician is a rather substantial hook. Being an athlete or a URM is a hook as well. I wouldn't be surprised if it's a more substantial hook in that I think the politicians would have the ear of the people who can influence decisions within the university. The athlete or URM would need to get the attention of the people who make the admission decisions. Their status on the application is what would get them noticed. A higher bar to scale.

    I've never been one whose desire it was to be influential (beyond my own family) so I guess I really don't care. The number of congressmen, senators, judges and Presidents who will have children entering college in any given year won't be substantial and I'm sure there is a hierarchy even among them.
    edited July 22
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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 2876 replies37 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The number is more than you might think. Include governors, mayors of major cities, present and former prominent cabinet members, well known political candidates, and of course the grandchildren as well as the children of all of the above.
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  • JHSJHS 18373 replies71 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 24
    @roycroftmom , If you look through a class at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, or wherever, you will find a handful of students with backgrounds like you describe, not a significant number. And lots of them are students with actual qualifications we would all accept as "merit."

    Case in point, only as an illustration: One of my roommates at Yale was the son of the mayor of a small city in northwestern Connecticut, a connection that admissions would clearly pay attention to (just as Harvard admissions would notice the child of the mayor of Lowell or Gloucester). He was later Editor in Chief of the Columbia Law Review, a Supreme Court clerk, and a very high-level Justice Department official, positions for which there are no "hooks" unrelated to ability and performance. Do you count him as an illegitimate admit, or as someone who happened to have a hook but would have been admitted in any rational process?

    Re Harvard's "featherweight" legacy preference: The real relevant comparison is not to the average non-legacy applicant, but to the average applicant from families as sophisticated and affluent as the families of Harvard alumni. I haven't gone over all of the lawsuit discovery data like some of the posters here. For years various people confirmed that Harvard tracked its acceptance rate for Yale and Princeton legacies (who received no preferential consideration in the admissions process) as a sort of control group for measuring the effect of its preferential consideration of Harvard legacies. The difference in admission rate was very small, and not necessarily significant. There was clearly some sort of embedded preference for the children of affluent, educationally sophisticated families, but Harvard legacy status was indeed a featherweight beyond that.
    edited July 24
    Post edited by skieurope on
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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 2876 replies37 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 24
    @JHS your experience clearly differs from mine. Check this years admit stats from the top 5 private schools in Washington if you would like confirmation of the importance of political kid status. You are quite unique in thinking legacy is a "featherweight", which even the Ivies themselves would not claim.
    edited July 24
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  • mom2andmom2and 2815 replies19 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 24
    The difficulty is in separating what is an unfair advantage be it legacy or child of prominent parents from the kid's own achievements. Kids that get into a top prep school have a better shot at a super elite college because they have already been found to have the ability to achieve at a high level. It is unfair to assume that all kids of politicians are only capable of achieving the infamous "gentleman's C" and are not in and of themselves high achievers. Genetics being a strong factor, it seems likely that high achieving, smart politicians (or CEOs or graduates of super elite colleges) will have a higher percentage of kids with those same traits. Unless you actually see the kid's application, there is no way to know if they are being given an unfair advantage. Of course they have lots of privilege in the form of great schools, tutors if needed, opportunities to pursue ECs at high levels regardless of cost, etc. to craft a great application. That is obviously a huge advantage. But the student still has to participate in the activities, take the tests (and hopefully write their own papers).
    edited July 24
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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 2876 replies37 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Admission to a top prep school in Washington does rely upon the same political factors that help in college admission-children of prominent political figures are admitted to benefit the school. Some are qualified, some are not. Even Gore's son has agreed his very mediocre prep school grades and high school legal troubles weren't factors in his admission to Harvard.
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  • JHSJHS 18373 replies71 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @roycroftmom , if you look at the admissions statistics for the top 5 private schools in any large city in the country where super-educated, super-ambitious people congregate, you will see pretty much the same thing. It's even more pronounced in NYC, where one is generally talking about money, not politics. Those schools do really well in elite college admissions in large part because they are fabulous educational institutions that select for students with high academic potential and then shape them into exactly what the elite colleges want to admit. They all probably get some sort of occasional celebrity/politician/billionaire boost, but that's the frosting; there's a lot of cake underneath.

    They also get some legacy boost, too. But if you want to see how much (how little) legacy actually matters, go hang out at a school with dozens of legacies at all the HYPS colleges. The ones who actually get accepted are the ones who are superqualified.
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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 2876 replies37 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Of course many legacies are qualified. And so are very many of the denied applicants at many Ivies. Legacy, like political status, is often the determining factor among the many average excellent applicants. If you think DC prep schools are selecting primarily for high academic potential, you clearly do not know the current student body well at all.
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 12719 replies234 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 24
    In my experience at a NYC prep school, many/most of my classmates were selected for their academic brilliance...at age 3-5. Some of us applied and got in for middle or high school but most of my class started at the school in preschool or kindergarten.
    edited July 24
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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 2876 replies37 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    NYC doesn't have the same critical mass of political kids as Washington.
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  • JHSJHS 18373 replies71 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    NYC doesn't have the same critical mass of political kids as Washington.
    Of course it doesn't, which is why, for purposes of this issue, it matters that the NYC elite schools do even better than the DC elite schools in getting kids admitted to hyperselective colleges.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77690 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    JHS wrote: »
    NYC doesn't have the same critical mass of political kids as Washington.
    Of course it doesn't, which is why, for purposes of this issue, it matters that the NYC elite schools do even better than the DC elite schools in getting kids admitted to hyperselective colleges.

    But doesn't NYC have its own concentration of privileged (for elite college admissions -- legacy and development) families in Wall Street and such?
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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 2876 replies37 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I thought the question presented was whether political children do disproportionately well in elite admissions compared to peers with similar qualifications, for which the answer is clearly yes. They may not do as well as Wall St kids enrolled in NY elite schools, but that wasn't the question
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2373 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "elite college admissions (they already have all the networking/connections available to them with various doors legally opening to them), is in actuality creating an elite class that perpetually possesses the privileges. This is antithesis of American dream and is very detrimental to our social mobility."

    This is well said, but I'm not sure the US was built on elite colleges providing the social mobility and opportunities you mention, it's more the public universities that do that for the majority of Americans.

    "but Harvard legacy status was indeed a featherweight beyond that. "
    It's a lot more than featherweight, even Harvard concedes that, otherwise they would have objected to the data around legacies being presented, as others have noted. Legacy wasn't actually the surprise, it was the SCEA advantage that I thought was zero to minimal, but not.

    "The number is more than you might think."
    Yeah, add Tiffany Trump (Georgetown Law) and Audrey Pence (daughter, Harvard Law). But is it a lot, I mean if you have 50 admits, even 150 that are there because of what their parents did more than what they did, is it meaningful in a class of 2000 admits? Not sure.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33454 replies363 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 24
    Many here are opining or speculating. That doesn't make it reality. It isn't even the level of thinking tippy tops need to find in their applicants.

    The advantage to an expensive prep school is not the wealth. It's the fact those GCs tend to pre-vet or fine comb for their best applicants. And foster the best, facilitating great internships, certain better sorts of comm service, the chance to stand out, in the right ways. Those who are not as able generally get steered to a host of alternatives, from "2nd tier" down to no-names.

    NYC does have a critical mass of bright and deserving appliants, of any SES. (Sure, Montgomery County and Northern VA, too. The standards are high there.) Many of the kids in NYC schools, even smaller parochials, earn their positives. Kids who've stretched and accomplished, and put forth a well tuned app/supp. Some other areas, too, including very poor areas. At some of the DC suburban hs, the level of work, maturity and thinking is notable. It's so incomplete to assume this is about Mommy's or Daddy's job.

    More legacies get denied than approved. Over the years, I came to see just how much this is "the kid's to win or lose," how he stretches, accomplishes, and more- and not just titles. Gotta remember that just having the stats and some ECs you think are great, doesn't equate to the whole the tippy tops look for. Legacy, wealth or not. It's much more intense to filter for a class than many of you imagine. Many kids never get what the college is about, what those adcoms seek, and/or what a good presentation actually is. That's all SES, connections or not.
    edited July 24
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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 2876 replies37 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 24
    And we all know that the best applicants include all the children and grandchildren of present and former national politicians-by definition, they are considered the best. So Trump, Pence, Obama, Biden, Gore, and Bush offspring all sail in, along with others. Some qualified by academic merit, some not, but it was never about academics for them. Do not worry, looking forward, the admission committees didn't have to work too hard on those applicants. They need to spend much more time winnowing the mass of unconnected kids with often better qualifications.
    edited July 24
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