How much does being a URM (Under Represented Minority) help in getting into top boardingschools.

I’m a URM so I would like to know how much being a URM will help my chances of getting to the top boarding schools like
the HADES schools(Sorry for using the acronym I know many don’t like it)definitely since I need full financial aid probably.

It depends upon the school. Each school is free to determine what its policies are regarding what bump, if any, URM will be. Additionally, no school will tell you its policies, so asking about one school vs. another will result in answers that are only speculation.

That said, the candidate will still need to be otherwise qualified; no school will admit an unqualified applicant simple because s/he’s URM.

You may even need to be MORE qualified than other applicants because no one wants to be accused of lowering the bar for under-represented groups. The bar is higher for you already because you need full FA, too.

I am not qualified to answer about URM as I am not URM. Most admitted student are qualified to be there, but if you want FA, you have to bring something more as others are paying for yo to be there, good luck and do not be afraid to apply

Depends which URM and the needs of the BS. If the BS is looking for that particular URM there can be huge benefit. If you have other hooks (ie sports, etc) then you will have a large advantage over most of the other candidates, FA or FP.

Not sure what you mean by “MORE qualified”, but I’ve never heard of the concern expressed by any AO or any school that they are are afraid of coming off as “lowering the bar for under-represented groups”. If anything, they want the public to know that they are actively recruiting members of under-represented groups. I do have seen AOs trying to tell people that they are not lowering the bar for legacy applicants and all the advantage they get is ‘just’ an additional round of review.

All special populations have a lower bar: legacies, Under represented minorities, athletes and so on. The bar is not higher. That is absurd. Now a URM needing full financial aid will most certainly need to be qualified. A full pay URM will have the best odds of anyone. Full pay candidates have a much easier hurdle.

Imagine being a full pay legacy URM: literally the best possible situation :))

Nico, yes, your FP legacy URM would probably get a good look by AO’s at the legacy school, but that applicant would still need to be “qualified”.

This is yet another thread which has turned into a discussion about applicants being qualified: who is or isn’t and who is more so or less so. It seems that despite all the many, many, many threads and posts on this topic there is still no consensus on what it means to be “qualified”. To my thinking, being qualified or not to attend a school is a determination made by each admissions office; it is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder. Call me naive, but I trust that most schools sincerely try not to accept a student who they have reason to believe will not succeed at their school.

I’ve often read that “top” schools receive some supermajority of applications from “qualified” students (as many as 80% in one case), many more than they can logistically accept. Then from within this too-large group of “qualified” applicants the schools must whittle down the group in a manner which most closely achieves the variety and mix of students they wish to admit. At this point we can quibble about students being “more” or “less” qualified relative to one another, but they are all “qualified”. It also seems that some folks here choose a very narrow view of what factors matter most in the concept of “qualified”, namely test scores and GPA’s. To me it’s just not that simple. For example, I believe that perceived maturity and readiness is a factor we overlook on this forum but which I suspect is important to AO’s. Therefore comments like this tend to get under my skin (with all due respect @Center; hopefully we can continue to agree to disagree):

“All special populations have a lower bar… Now a URM needing full financial aid will most certainly need to be qualified. A full pay URM will have the best odds of anyone.”

The implication from these comments is that URM’s (or other members of a “special population”) do not need to be qualified to be admitted, and that as a consequence there are kids at these schools who are unqualified. I wholeheartedly disagree. Again: to gain admission to a school every student needs to be qualified according to whatever standards a school sets.

Rather than thinking that admitted kids whose test scores and GPA’s are below the published school averages are “not qualified”, perhaps we should consider that kids whose test scores and GPA’s are at or above those levels are “more than qualified” with regard to those 2 narrow factors.

Andover AOs used to say that 85% of their applicants are “academically admissible”, and I suspect that’s the case for Exeter, Deerfield, Groton… as well. I tend to buy the idea that these schools are forming their class per a “soft quota” scheme. If that’s true, then a hook is not always a hook depending on what year and what cohort of applicants you happen to fall into. For example, if a school has “too many” legacy applicants for the year, then legacy applicants might need to compete with one another, and in some cases they do need to be “more qualified” to get in. So a legacy URM does not always have a better chance than a URM applicant that needs financial aid, if the latter happens to be more lacking in the applicant pool.

My advice would be to not fixate on your URM status, or any other single factor in isolation. There are simply too many variables at play, and this is not a zero sum game.

  • Will your URM status generally be a positive factor? In general terms, probably so.
  • Is it some kind of silver bullet? No.
  • Could your URM status work against you? Possibly. To the extent any plus factor makes a school think that it is likely to lose you another school, it's conceivable that concerns about yield could work against you.
  • Will the impact of your URM status depend on the number and characteristics of the other qualified URMs who are applying and how likely they are to attend? Probably.
  • Will the impact of your URM status depend on the degree to which your lifestyle reflects your URM background? Possibly. Who knows?
  • How much does the school to which you are applying weigh URM status? Who knows? Is it even quantifiable?
  • What other factors do schools consider? Contribution to the school, generally? Contribution to a school's specific need or desire? How much the applicant would benefit from the school? Strength of recommendations? Strength of interviews? Strength of essay? Class balance? Personality fit? Craziness of parents? Geographic location? Academic stats? Perceived academic promise, regardless of stats? Demonstrated leadership? Demonstrated academic or non-academic achievements? Perceived ambition? Perceived potential for greatness? Participation in athletics? Legacy status? Languages spoken? Expectations regarding college placement? Legacy status children will enjoy at various universities? Amount of financial need required? The other schools to which you are applying? I'm sure I'm missing many.
  • How do each of these factors affect the weight attributed to other factors? Is that the same for all schools? I can't imagine its even the same for each of the AOs at any particular school.

While I have no direct insight into the process, I suspect it is much more art than science.

This discussion reminds me of a scene from Dead Poet’s Society, in which Robin Williams takes issue with a passage titled “Understanding Poetry” that contains the following language:

Williams response includes the following:

@CaliPops Of course I had to go look for it:

I may have to re-watch that movie soon!

I have often wondered if URM, particularly ones in measurable groups, are held to higher standards when it comes to something like fit, which we’ve all acknowledged can be almost impossible to assess from the outside. The idea isn’t simply to admit diverse students, it’s to have them succeed and graduate. If a school developed a reputation for being one where certain URM groups left after a year or two because they felt like it was a bad place for them, that would probably be even worse than not admitting them in the first place. So yes, everyone has to clear the bar for academic success, but after that, perhaps it’s a certain kind of personality that’s prioritized at each school in order to ensure that the URM will be a full, happy member of the community. I think that @CaliPops is right on in thinking it’s more art than science.

The idea that each and every time, the kid with the highest scores is the “best” candidate for every school is simply wrong. I might pick my math team that way, but I wouldn’t want to build a residential community on that basis!

Our personal experience was it didn’t hurt/help/matter…I think after all of my crash course CC learning…it is all about the fit, URM or not.

I totally agree with buuzn03. It didn’t help or hurt us and schools are looking for those that they think will fit. There are no special hooks just kids that fit what the school needs.

2, No the bar is not higher for URM. It's well known if anything the bar is higher for ORM.

<> #7

No actually, no pay URMs do well. BSs are looking for full FA URMs like Icahn Scholars at Choate. These are the students, who end up getting into elite colleges through QuestBridge or First Gen programs since a lot of elite colleges want first gen students and save 15 - 20% of spots for them.

Which bar, @preppedparent ? My point was that the “fit” bar may be higher. How do you know it isn’t?

It takes being a certain person to be in a minority in a community in which what is normalized is not what you are.

^^^My “bar” above is in reference to post #2 by another poster. Re URM: <> I believe this is referring to GPA and standardized test scores, not “fit bar.” I’m not referring to anything you stated, @gardenstategal.

Got it!! :slight_smile: numerically challenged today!