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“I largely got in based on athletic merit,” admits Yalie

onthewestfenceonthewestfence 245 replies7 threads Junior Member
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Replies to: “I largely got in based on athletic merit,” admits Yalie

  • thumper1thumper1 75215 replies3300 threads Senior Member
    edited September 24
    You know...I would say winning an Olympic medal is truly an example of a hook. I’m sure it was viewed in the context of a student who Yale felt could achieve at their school. I’m guessing he is a strong student too...based on has possible career goals and majors. And I love watching him skate!!
    edited September 24
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  • joecollege44joecollege44 151 replies9 threads Junior Member
    One could argue that even higher school athletes who will not be competing at the college level should be able to get into the same colleges with lower grades than non athletes. Sports are a huge time commitment. Though of course there are the student athletes who just do it to have something on their applications and don’t really put in the full effort- there needs to be a better push at weeding those kids out.
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 12996 replies244 threads Senior Member
    Sports are a huge time commitment. Though of course there are the student athletes who just do it to have something on their applications and don’t really put in the full effort- there needs to be a better push at weeding those kids out.

    If an athlete applicant isn't recruited - which can stand in for being very good - then they aren't getting much benefit from being athletes. At least not more than a dedicated musician or journalist or whatever.

    If they are good enough to be recruited, then they leapfrog over regular applicants.
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  • JHSJHS 18460 replies72 threads Senior Member
    Many years ago, my uncle was a member of the admissions committee at a prestigious medical school within a prestigious university (one that often gets discussed here). They received an application from a student who was somewhat older than the norm at that time, and who the year before had competed in an individual sport at the Olympics, with a performance that had galvanized public attention (without winning a medal) and turned the athlete into a household name. The applicant's academic credentials were fine -- he was an undergraduate at the same university, there was no question about preparation or intellectual ability to handle that medical school's curriculum -- but not on a par with most of the people being admitted, who generally had extraordinary academic and research credentials.

    Surprisingly, the committee had not faced this issue before, at least not while my uncle had been on it. They had a serious, somewhat intense discussion about whether it was appropriate to take into account the applicant's athletic achievements (and the work it had taken to make that possible), as well as the public persona. Anyway, it turned out that 100% of the committee members wanted to admit the applicant -- but most of them thought their colleagues might be opposed to it. They accepted the applicant . . . who turned down the admission in favor of a Rhodes Scholarship and eventual PhD.
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  • onthewestfenceonthewestfence 245 replies7 threads Junior Member
    RichInPitt wrote: »
    Without knowing his academic qualifications, it's hard to comment.

    I'm guessing he wasn't a 3.1/1100 SAT HS student. And I'm not sure "admits" is correct in the title.

    This is taken directly from the article:

    As a sophomore, he’s less academically shy than he was. (“I largely got in based on athletic merit,” he acknowledges. Assuming he might be out of his depth in class with other students, he found he’s pulling his weight.)
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78600 replies697 threads Senior Member
    RichInPitt wrote: »
    I'm guessing he wasn't a 3.1/1100 SAT HS student. And I'm not sure "admits" is correct in the title.

    Many superselective colleges are wealthy, and posters on these forums write about their better academic support services that the money presumably buys. If that is true, then most of them should be able to pull a 3.1 HS GPA / 1100 SAT student to graduation in some major (and they may have a few such students in the form of those related to their largest donors, though such students are likely rare even among donor relatives). Yes, that may not be possible at a few where the minimum rigor is very high (e.g. Caltech), but not every superselective college is like that.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34514 replies383 threads Senior Member
    edited September 25
    Face it, next to no college kids know why they got in. I don't think an adcom said, "Nathan, we only took you because you're an Olympic athlete." Nor do I think they expected him to compete on the team, against other colleges.

    Yale likes leadership. But they've said that's more than having some titles or awards, even smaller engagements can demonstrate leader qualities.

    He filled out an app and supp, like everyone else. It had to be good. And rounded. I mind the athletic hook, but I think he's probably as legit as the next kid.
    edited September 25
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  • websensationwebsensation 2117 replies39 threads Senior Member
    edited September 25
    I have all the respect in the world for a serious athlete doing well academically. That kind of person can do well in any college imo. However, based on my personal experience long time ago, I saw a friend who was 1st or 2nd in District in a popular sport get into Yale, even though he was not even close academically to get into top 20 colleges. I remember fondly we decided to sleep over and study for Calculus BC Finals next day, but we ended up talking about other things and we both got Fs on Calculus tests. lol I almost flunked out of the class, which would have meant I could not graduate from high school, but luckily, the math teacher's own daughter attended Cornell, and the teacher felt sympathetic towards me when I told her that I got into Cornell, so she exercised her discretion and gave me a passing grade in her class to graduate. The difference between he and I was that I was 1st or 2nd in District in a not so popular sport while he was 1st or 2nd in a popular sport. I couldn't complain because I myself got into Cornell with a 3.0 GPA,. even though kids with really high GPAs from my high school got denied.
    edited September 25
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  • LemonleeLemonlee 77 replies7 threads Junior Member
    edited September 26
    It seems as if there is a tendency here on CC to believe athletes can’t also be just as smart and academically capable as their peers. There are always a number of kids in our local HS every year that are good enough athletes to play D1 and also smart enough to be admissible to an elite college without the athletic hook. Yes, those are the kids that end up at the Ivys or at the WASP type LACs as athletic recruits if they play their cards right, or who gain admission without being a recruited athlete because they chose not to continue their sport in college. I have no doubt that Nathan Chen’s being an Olympic athlete got him into Yale, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t qualified academically to be there.
    edited September 26
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  • happy1happy1 22960 replies2261 threads Senior Member
    edited September 26
    It is easy to understand why Yale would want Nathan Chen on campus. Kudos to him for balancing Olympic level training, serious academics, and a social life.
    edited September 26
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  • TiggerDadTiggerDad 1948 replies71 threads Senior Member
    edited September 26
    I also caught that drifting implication of "undeserving athlete that took up a class seat" by the carefully selected title...

    Whether that was the OP's real intention or not, the fact of the matter is that student-athletes, particularly in the Ivy League, are very successful once on campus. The Ivy League leads the nation in NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) with a combined average over 97 percent across its eight institutions for student-athletes. That's better than many institutions accounting just for non-athletes.

    For someone at the world class level as Chen and Kim with global travels for competitions and so much time put into training and other preparations, it's a remarkable accomplishment. If anyone wants to question their places in these colleges, ask whether all the admitted non-athletes could have achieved the highest academic credentials if they had the same loads as the likes of Chen and Kim.
    edited September 26
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 23251 replies17 threads Senior Member
    Surprisingly, the committee had not faced this issue before, at least not while my uncle had been on it. They had a serious, somewhat intense discussion about whether it was appropriate to take into account the applicant's athletic achievements (and the work it had taken to make that possible), as well as the public persona. Anyway, it turned out that 100% of the committee members wanted to admit the applicant -- but most of them thought their colleagues might be opposed to it.

    Elle Woods, welcome to Harvard!
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  • txazparenttxazparent 36 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Agreed, there is no doubt that athletes can be just as academically capable as their peers. I'm sure Nathan Chen was academically qualified for Yale.

    Yale probably has 10x more academically qualified applications than they can admit, they have no choice but to reject a lot of qualified ("deserving") applicants.

    Olympic athletes who are also academically qualified is a very fair, easy choice for them.
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  • UndercrackersUndercrackers 872 replies2 threads Member
    Athletes at Chen's level - especially solo athletes vs. team - have to be very focused and good at time management to be successful. His athletic achievements may have been what got him into Yale, but it's his intelligence, drive and ability to juggle a lot of balls is what is hopefully going to get him through. The landscape is littered with sports stars who wound up having very successful post-competitive careers, assuming they aren't struggling with any psychological or other personal issues (that's a whole other post).
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34514 replies383 threads Senior Member
    Believe it or not, even an Olympian can get set aside if they're only focused on their sport. (How hard is it to at least mentor others or get involved with some foundation's work?)

    The issue with recruits is not that many *are* qualified academically and in ECs. It's the coach pull for kids who are not or are borderline.

    In the end, there can always be some wild cards. As they build the class and know they're near their goals, they may decide to give some kid a chance, though he or she isn't "perfect." But that's under adcom control, not some wisdom or formula CC can impart to lesser qualified kids.
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