The Price of Admission

<p>I hope all prospective non blue-blood applicants have a chance to read the new book by Daniel Golden before making application.</p>

<p>I'm not sure what your case is but I must say that Harvard was VERY fair with our price of admission. My DD comes from the working class and has earned her way to the best available education through effort not funds. She has earned (through hard work) the opportunity, now it is up to her to make the best of it. The financial aid office was very accommodating , supportive and realistic in their interpretation of our family's financial status. We didn't expect a free ride (under the current rules many will get that chance). After all, what is it worth to YOU to get a Harvard education? We had no connections, no hooks, tricks, gimmicks or other ways to get in. She just worked hard to give herself a realistic chance to apply for her top school, and after applications and the interviews she is appreciative of the opportunity entrusted to her and she plans to do what she can to continue the proud tradition of excellent scholars leaving Harvard. Class of 2010</p>

<p>My response is: DUH!! In order to provide generous financial aid packages to meritricious middle-, working-, and lower-class applicants, Harvard must have a healthy crop of wealthy students/donors. Instead of "The Price of Admission," the book should be titled "The Price of Education."</p>

<p>that's not true - harvard could be completely self sufficient with no tuition or donors due to the size of its endowment and its growth.</p>

<p>The point is there is a lot more preference than you think, leaving many fewer real slots based on merit. There will always be some who get in on true merit. Apparently for some elite schools, the number of slots for otherwise marginal students (but with wealthy/famous/influential parents) can approach 50% or more. Not a real problem, but most people in this country assume every student attending an Ivy is a genius. This book pulls the curtain back to reveal the truth.
Also, the link to the information about the book was removed for some reason?</p>

<p>"can approach 50% or more." </p>

<p>Cite some statistics, please. And which specific universities are you refering to? Certainly not Harvard.</p>

<p>There is somewhat of a political push for transparency, however no schools publish this information for obvious reasons. The book cites a conversation the author had with Robert Birgeneau, Chancellor of UC-Berkeley, who "told me that he once calculated the proportion of admission spaces open to 'regular students' at one Ivy League university, which he declined to name. His startling conclusion: students without any nonacademic preferences are vying for only 40% of the slots."
The book goes on to cite numerous specific examples with names, academic ranking and test scores of students admitted under these preferences. There are many pages devoted to Harvard examples. Much of the information is new, but some of the information had been published previously in The Wall Street Journal, for whom the author is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter.</p>

Not a real problem, but most people in this country assume every student attending an Ivy is a genius.


<p>I rather doubt that. I suspect, based on the regions of the country I have traveled to (all of them) or lived in (both coasts, and the Midwest), that most Americans think that most Harvard students are from rich families. And, as a matter of fact, the median income of Harvard parent families is FAR above the median United States income. There are definitely smart young people all around the country who don't apply to Harvard because they don't think that they will fit in there socially, being only middle-class in income. </p>

<p>But Harvard is taking measures to counteract that nationwide impression, and I take those measures at face value. To the best of my knowledge and belief, any applicant to Harvard has to have an irreducible amount of genuine academic "merit" to be admitted, and every recent Harvard entering class has had some students from very poor backgrounds who gain admission over richer, higher-stats applicants who don't look like they have overcome the same difficulties in life. I advise the young people in my area who seem smart enough to get into Harvard to attend Harvard information sessions, surf the Harvard Web site, and meet Harvard alumni in our town. Then, if they are interested, I think they should APPLY. They may or may not get in--lots of people don't gain admission to Harvard each year--but they surely won't get in if they don't apply. I know people of a fairly wide range of incomes here in my town, from income and asset levels that will surely get full rides based on financial need to those that will be full-pay if admitted. I think they all ought to keep Harvard in consideration until the end of the admission season, when they finally have to choose just one college to enroll in on the national reply date. Not everyone will choose Harvard, and not all (by far) of the people who apply to Harvard will get in, but it is worth considering on the basis of reliable information rather than outdated anecdotes.</p>

<p>It would be impossible to maintain Harvard's median SAT scores if 50% of the admits were 'marginal'.</p>

<p>I believe the middle 50% SAT range for Harvard is 700-790 for both Verbal and Math. It's my impression that many of the applicants admitted on their merit earn perfect or near-perfect scores and are typically at the top of their high school class. If 50% of the class is in the 1500-1600 range and the other 50% is in the 1250-1400 range, it's pretty easy to see how you could end up with their stated range. We're not talking about marginal students like the athlete at a top football school, we're talking about marginal for Harvard. The book talks about a double standard for students from elite/wealthy families and an implied quid pro quo after the parents end up on something like an "advisory board" (I believe at Harvard it's known as COUR) with typical contributions starting at a minimum of $250,000 and easily getting to 7 or 8 figures in many cases.</p>

<p>I thought from other posts at other times that this elite/wealthy group is the z-list admits, who have to wait a year, and maybe it's only a dozen or so a year? Or not?</p>

<p>What does COUR stand for?</p>

<p>COUR is Committee on University Resources which is ostensibly an advisory committee, but in reality is a group of 300-400 wealthy people whom Harvard believes have resources of their own. They admit their son/daughter, invite the parent to serve on the prestigious COUR and then go hard after substantial donations in the future. Some of their kids would make it on merit and some would not. The book does talk about the Harvard Z List, which is a list of much more marginal candidates who are admitted through the back door (next year's class) so they have a chance to "mature". "Development" admits are those whose families fit the profile targeted by the fundraising part of the college. Most colleges do not have a wall between the admissions committee and the fundraising committee. The lines of communication are very open.</p>

<p>bluestatewannabe is of course just offering his opinion of these things. He has no inside knowledge, unless he would like to offer us his credentials????</p>

<p>I may not have been clear, but these observations are based on the book called "The Price of Admission" by Daniel Golden. Please read the book if you have some interest in the subject and you can let me know if I have mis-stated any of the facts presented in the book. I believe in the concept of meritocracy. Ultimately, I think it makes a difference in the quality of our political and corporate leaders. Do we want low-achieving leaders who went to the right school because their parents have a name or money or both? Or would society be better served with letting the most creative, intelligent people of all races, gender and socioeconomic class rise to the top?</p>

<p>quoting bluestatewannabe, #14

Do we want low-achieving leaders who went to the right school because their parents have a name or money or both?


& #10

If 50% of the class is in the 1500-1600 range and the other 50% is in the 1250-1400 range, it's pretty easy to see how you could end up with their stated range.


<p>Ahem, I would not call someone whose SATs were in the 1250-1400 range "low-achieving."</p>

<p>Read the book and you'll get my point. Achievement at this level is all relative. Would you rather have a valedictorian from a top public high school with a 1550 SAT score and many leadership positions or a top 30% student from an elite prep school with a 1250 SAT who was on the crew team? Harvard rejects many of the former and admits many of the latter. (these are my examples, but somewhat representative of some offered in the book)</p>

<p>Past 1200, a student should be capable of doing college-level work.<br>
I also know a very successful, very knowledgeable journalist who swears she was admitted to Radcliffe because she was willing to crew. Being a member of the crew team or of some other sports team is not a sign of dumbness.
Personally, I love watching the crew team practicing on the Charles. I also think a college is better off having students with a range of interests and abilities, not all of whom can be captured by GPAs and SATs.</p>

<p>And do you really believe everything you read in print?</p>

Past 1200, a student should be capable of doing college-level work.


<p>That depends on what college you're talking about when you say "college-level" work. A student with 1200 is statistically likely to have a very difficult time at Caltech or MIT.</p>

<p>A student with a 1200 (and a good work ethic and time management skills) would probably do just fine at a place like Brown, assuming she picks courses carefully and makes judicious use of the requirement-free curriculum and pass-fail options.</p>

<p>There are still other colleges where a student with a 1000 (and a good work ethic and time management skills) should be capable of doing the work.</p>

<p>"College-level" work is not a well-defined term.</p>

<p>A student with 1200 should be able to handle the work at Harvard. Not great, but okay. It depends partly on how the 1200 is arrived at. But, as Mini has pointed out time and again, there need to be students who are at the bottom of their class.</p>