Yale President On Legacies

<p>Very interesting interview with Rick Levin in the current Yale magazine. Among the things he says:</p>

<p>"The pool of legacy applicants is substantially stronger than the average of the rest of the pool. The grades and test scores of the legacies we admit are higher than the average of the rest of the admitted class, and the legacies that matriculate achieve higher grades at Yale than non-legacy students with the same high school grades and test scores."</p>

<p>"...this isn't so surprising. Legacy students are coming from highly educated households."</p>

<p>He goes on to say that he understands the outcry about legacies as public schools, but says private schools are different because they rely on alumni for a significant portion of their money. 35% of the total revenue comes from alumni, and legacy students themselves, when they become adults, are on average "significantly more generous donors."</p>

<p>Finally he says that they are seeing significant numbers of legacy applicants from formerly underrepresented groups, since they have been increasing their diversity numbers for so many years.</p>


<p>All this may be true, but consider the audience of the magazine: alumni, and therefore parents of present or future legacies, not to mention past, present and future donors.</p>

<p>I just thought this might be interesting because I remembered the threads on legacies on the old forum. I have no axe to grind - none of my kids did, or are even applying to their legacy schools! </p>

<p>No matter what the audience, Yale's experience clearly has to be taken into consideration when - as they so often do - people claim that legacies are worse students or less qualified.</p>

<p>I never thought legacies were not as qualified but they have had the opposite experience of first generation students as their parents have had the benefit of a college education and the children have had that support so they they should be much more competive as applicants than a first generation student.
However if the school is interested in diversity at all, and also feels that their school can help students go farther than they have before, legacy will only be a small criteria in choosing an entering class.</p>

<p>""The pool of legacy applicants is substantially stronger than the average of the rest of the pool. The grades and test scores of the legacies we admit are higher than the average of the rest of the admitted class, and the legacies that matriculate achieve higher grades at Yale than non-legacy students with the same high school grades and test scores."</p>

<p>It's either just a smokescreen or plain ignorance on his part. The applicants are stronger BECAUSE of their higher income and the opportunities afforded by it (which he very well knows.) Notice he said those legacies admitted had higher scores etc, which means they TURNED DOWN applicants with higher scores than the legacies. One could call that a self-fulfilling prophecy.</p>

<p>Yale's "diversity" numbers have NOT been increasing in recent years. Their percentage of Pell Grant recipients (lower income students) has actually declined over the past decade. The percentage of students not receiving any financial aid is (along with Brown) the highest of any Ivy League school; their percentage of students from private schools is the highest of any Ivy League school.</p>

<p>I suspect he knows all this - he is, after all, the President, but a little well-placed lie can go a long way. Frankly, I think it is fine for a private college to admit legacies at a higher rate - I just think they should raise the tuition for the privilege.</p>

<p>Even public schools benefit financially from a strong legacy program....Virginia for instance where my son is a legacy and 1st year there. Alumni giving as states cut back on financing is important.</p>

<p>Mini, I am on your side, but I didn't quote the entire article. He specifically referred to diversity only in terms of "women, minority, and international students" and said they are seeing "more legacy applicants from religious groups that were historically excluded and racial groups that were historically underrepresented." He didn't mention income.</p>

<p>It takes at least 2-3 decades, of course, for more open admittance policies to have an effect on legacy applicants.</p>

<p>And in his defense (only because I am the one quoting the article so I don't want to misrepresent him) I will say that he specifically said it was no surprise that so many top applicants come from alumni families because "they tend to be more exposed to and more serious about intellectual matters." This echoes what you pointed out.</p>

<p>Mini said, "Notice he said those legacies admitted had higher scores etc, which means they TURNED DOWN applicants with higher scores than the legacies."</p>

<p>It also means they LET IN nonlegacies with LOWER scores!!!</p>

<p>Exactly. In other words, letting in legacies had nothing to do with student quality or student performance whatsoever. It had to do with wanting to admit legacies - period. Levin doesn't have to make (untrue) excuses for it. I have no problems with Yale admitting legacies - if anything, I think they should admit more of them, especially rich ones, and charge them for the privilege, so they can admit larger numbers of low-income students. Yale remains the least economically diverse of all the Ivy League schools, with the highest entitlement index of all the Ivy Schools (all of them being relatively high), and the third highest in the nation.</p>

<p>mini wrote, "Notice he said those legacies admitted had higher scores etc, which means they TURNED DOWN applicants with higher scores than the legacies.."</p>

<p>Could you please show in detail how the quoted statement from Yale's president proves your statement? Could you also please explain in greater detail why that should matter to nonlegacy applicants to Yale?</p>

<p>I didn't apply to the selective LAC where I was a legacy, because it didn't offer a major program (or any course at all, initially) in the field of study I desired to pursue. Legacies self-select to apply to where they would like to study. A school like Yale with strong programs in many different fields of study probably gets more legacy applications, by percentage of all college-age legacies, than the LAC my dad went to, but every college admits a majority of nonlegacy applicants, nicht wahr? The moral of this story seems to be to be sure to PREPARE well to be ready to join the Yale entering class, without worrying about where your parents went to school.</p>

<p>Unless legacies occupied all the top academic scores of applicants (90% of all students being turned down), mathematically they had to admit legacies with lower scores than some of the applicants they turned down. </p>

<p>Voronwe - it is very true that it would take two or three decades for the effects of preferential legacy admissions to trickle down, but only if those attending in the first place represented a more diverse group. Now, to be fair, I bet that those 60% of students from the top 3-5% of the U.S. population economically speaking (those paying $168k over four years) are more diverse than they were in 1970 - for one thing, they include women! </p>

<p>The data over the term of Levin's presidency don't indicate that they are seeking more representation from traditionally underrepresented groups, or, perhaps, they simply aren't very good at it. It can be done (Amherst, following on the heels of Smith and Occidental has proven it), but it takes time, lots of money, and effort. The data on Pell Grant recipients suggest that it hasn't happened yet. But there's always hope (especially if they can get legacies to fund it.)</p>

<p>(I hope I'm being clear - I'm very much in favor of legacies.)</p>

<p>"The pool of legacy applicants is substantially stronger than the average of the rest of the pool. The grades and test scores of the legacies we admit are higher than the average of the rest of the admitted class, and the legacies that matriculate achieve higher grades at Yale than non-legacy students with the same high school grades and test scores."</p>

<p>Can't find the article to read it, but this supports my point that legacies at HYP are more qualfied than the class on average, and that in fact, there is NO legacy preference.</p>

<p>Mini....not sure what your point is about admitting students (legacy or non-legacy) that had test scores lower than some who were rejected.</p>

<p>Admission to any of the top schools has very little to do with grades and test scores. Sure, you're not likely to get in with an 80 avg and 1100 boards, but that's not who's applying. At Yale, fewer than half the kids with 1600 boards are accepted. Lots of legacies are rejected.</p>

<p>If 20,000 kids apply in any given year, there have to 5,000 or more that have 95 avgs and 1500 boards. Thousands more with a 94 and 1400. The admissions decision simply isn't being made on this basis. Rather, overall accomplishment is key. And certainly, that's going to be viewed differently depending on the applicant's background.</p>

<p>Just looking at S's high school (public), it's clear that the colleges are not merely cherry picking the highest grades and test scores. in many cases, you see kids with lower numbers getting in ahead of kids with higher stats. and before anyone says something about minorities, that doesn't account for what's happening. what does account for this is their overall achievement.</p>

<p>My point was simply that the President of Yale didn't have one. If the legacies are stronger it is because they CHOOSE to make them so. If they are weaker, that is true too. Yale can choose whomever they want, build a class any way they like. They could choose to have a class with no legacies that would overall be stronger than the one they have, or they could choose to have a class with even more legacies. Folks forget that there are literally hundreds and hundreds of students who get into Yale every year (legacies and otherwise) who couldn't get into the Univ. of California at San Diego (because of the 12%/4% class rank rule).</p>

<p>And they could choose to measure achievement differently. Works for Amherst.</p>

<p>But to do so costs money, and Yale chooses not to make the investment. Consider for a moment what it costs. Let's assume we are comparing Smith with Yale (or Macalester with Princeton, or Occidental with Brown, it doesn't really matter.) Let's assume for the sake of argument a class of 2,500 students. (At Smith, that eliminates all the older students, 84% of whom receive financial aid.)</p>

<p>Now at Yale, under 10% are on Pell Grants; and only 40% receive needbased aid. So roughly it costs them:</p>

<p>$35k per Pell Grant recipient X 250 Pell Grant recipients = $8.75 mil.
Another 30% receive financial aid avg. $15k per -
$15k X 750 = $11,250,000</p>

<p>TOTAL INVESTMENT per year in the student body (of 2,500 students, I realize it is larger) = $20 mil, give or take.</p>

<p>Now, take Smith:
25% Pell Grant recipients (actually a little higher), and 40% others receiving needbased aid:
$35k X 750 = $26.25 mil
$15k X 1,000 = $15 mil</p>

<p>TOTAL INVESTMENT per year in the student body - $41.25 mil, give or take.</p>

<p>Now the numbers are rather interesting. A school with an endowment 1/16th the size of Yale's (Macalester's would be 1/50th the size), and which is not "need-blind" (doesn't exist anyway), CHOOSES to spend more than twice as much on assuring a diverse student body. This doesn't even count the additional investment in the admissions office getting said diverse student to apply.</p>

<p>There is no question in my mind, having attended a school that was not economically diverse (Williams), that the ACADEMIC quality of the school suffers as a result. I even see it in the off-handed comments of the Presidential candidates. (subject for another time.) If you are hoping to be part of setting a public policy agenda for the nation in the future, you are definitely handicapped if your exposure to half the population (or more) is limited by your schooling. To my way of thinking, Yale (not to single them out, because it is common), academically and socially handicaps its wealthier students by its admissions policies. It is not happenstance - they choose to do so (remember, Yale can attract and admit virtually anyone they want to come, and 50% of the time, will get them to attend - except much of the yield results from the fact that for the majority of students, financial considerations don't come into play).</p>

<p>And this is why I favor more legacies, and making them pay more for the privilege. If Yale feels that it can't scrape together what a school with 1/50th their endowment can to ensure a diverse academic and social experience for their students, maybe they need to raise the price, and ensure that they will have students attend who will pay for it.</p>

<p>But then I don't sit on the Yale board of trustees, and I doubt they are going to invite me anytime soon.</p>

<p>I agree with Mini that diversity should include low income people. The only reason I have trouble with having people with money pay even more than they do now is just how much of the burden is already being carried by those people. As someone posted on another thread, with half the country not paying income taxes and so many getting the earned income credit, and so many of the truly wealthy paying nothing or hiding income, a HUGE, disproportionate burden falls on one class of people. I pay enough federal taxes in one year to pay for two years at Yale, plus I pay full freight at my son's school (not Yale). The federal money is going to tons and tons and tons of social services, medicaid, government pensions, etc., plus I make a lot of charitable contributions. And yet people get really angry when the people who pay a small fortune in taxes get a tax cut. It's just that there really is a limit to what one person can pay.</p>

<p>OF COURSE in the case of the neediest, I want to pay. But it galls me that in my state a man can work for a mere TEN YEARS and then collect a pension FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE. It is hard not to feel taken advantage of. My tax dollars go to stuff like rebuilding homes for people who insist on building in places where it floods - I read about one guy who was paid 4 times, almost a million dollars.</p>

<p>Sorry, Mini, this has next to nothing to do with the problem. It's been a bad day. I have bills for my daughter who has cancer, bills for college, bills for all kinds of things, and then I read in the paper about the pension thing and I thought: and I am ALSO being asked to support near deadbeats that only work 35 hours a week while I work 60 or 70!</p>

<p>I can't pay any more. I and people like me are supporting half the country as it is - people who pay nothing and therefore have NO STAKE in the government. It's like people who pay no co-pay or very little overusing medical services. </p>

<p>That rant over, I would be glad to see my taxes go to the TRULY NEEDY including for education at Yale.</p>

<p>Amen, Voronwe. Although, I would rather my taxes (which they do to some extent) go to pay for 5 kids to go to their state university, and make better lives for themselves and their families, rather than pay for one child at Yale who is really there to teach the "other half" about diversity. Rant over.</p>