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Even the gatekeepers at some famous institutions acknowledge, quietly, that the selection system is broken. Also, students for Fair Admissions, which opposes affirmative action policies, has filed discrimination lawsuits against Harvard, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Texas at Austin. Critics of affirmative action see plenty of room for future legal challenges. Whatever happens, age-old questions about fairness in admissions will surely endure.

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She disputes the notion that testing prowess — or any other attribute, for that matter — entitles a student to a spot at his chosen college. That brings us to you, the anxious applicant, the frazzled parent, the confused citizen, all wondering what colleges want. Each year, the world-famous institutions reject thousands and thousands of students who could thrive there. Yes, rejection stings. Just as parents give teenagers a set of chores, colleges hand their admissions leaders a list of things to accomplish.

When they fail, they often get fired. On many campuses, financial concerns affect decisions about whom to admit. Among other targets is geographic diversity, which is now seen as an indicator of institutional strength and popularity. A campus might also need a particular number of engineering majors or goalies. Success depends on what a student brings to the table. With limited time and resources, those metrics offer a relatively quick way to predict who will succeed.

But the measures have drawbacks.

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Grade inflation has complicated the task of evaluating achievements, and so has the variance in high school grading policies. Standardized test scores correlate with family income; white and Asian-American students fare better than black and Hispanic students do. Did they attend low-performing high schools or well-resourced ones? Did they participate in extracurricular activities? Do they have leadership experience? What colleges look for sends a powerful message about what matters, not just to admissions officers but in life, and students often respond accordingly. While reading applications, its admissions officers now look for evidence of 13 characteristics — including curiosity, empathy, openness to change and ability to overcome adversity — that researchers associate with successful students.

The Best Book Ever Written On Elite College Admissions - Poets&Quants for Undergrads

These are also qualities that the liberal-arts college values, inside and outside the classroom. He recalls a teacher recommendation describing how an applicant had taken a stand on a controversial social issue in class, even though other students vocally disagreed with him. Impressed, Dr. But what if colleges asked for more? The admissions process at Olin College of Engineering includes a live audition.

After completing a traditional application, selected students visit the campus, in Needham, Mass. In addition to sitting for interviews, they work in small groups to complete a tabletop design challenge, such as building a tower that can hold a specific weight.

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On the second day, they are given another task, like designing a campus building. This time, evaluators observe each student, noting how well they communicate with others and adapt on the fly. A panel of faculty members and alumni reviews the portfolios. Last year, about 5 percent of applicants submitted a Makers Portfolio. They describe the Makers Portfolio as an intriguing glimpse of how a college might better align its process with its culture and values.

The catch: Reviewing all those portfolios takes time, something admissions offices lack. Even a small college like Olin, which welcomed fewer than new students this fall, must scramble to pull off its elaborate evaluations.


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Thorough review has become more challenging over the last decade, with waves of applicants overwhelming big-name colleges, victims of their own popularity. The University of California at Los Angeles received more than , applications for about 6, spots this fall. Stanford got 44, for just over 1, spots, and M. Most colleges are considering more incremental ways to enhance evaluations. The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, with more than prominent campuses as members, recently established an application platform with a feature called a virtual college locker, a private space where students can upload materials, such as videos and written work, that they could later add to their applications.

Among its stated goals: to make admissions more personal. But that could change. A handful of colleges are planning experiments using alternative ways to measure student potential.

How To Get Into an Ivy League School - What NOBODY Is Saying (2019)

Now, we have the ability to get to know a student better, from a different type of submission. Like many deans, Mr. Quinlan has grown wary of polished personal essays in which applicants describe their achievements. Jan 21, Pages.


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  • The Price of Admission.

Nov 05, Minutes. Naming names, along with grades and test scores, Golden lays bare a corrupt system in which middle-class and working-class whites and Asian Americans are routinely passed over in favor of wealthy white students with lesser credentials—children of alumni, big donors, or celebrities.

This book is essential reading for anyone connected with higher education. Previously, he was a reporter at the Boston Globe. The recipient of numerous journalistic honors and awards, including… More about Daniel Golden. A fire-breathing, righteous attack on the culture of super-priviledge. The most important reason is that America is witnessing a potentially explosive combination of trends.

Social inequality is rising at a time when the escalators of social mobility are slowing. Daniel Golden makes a frightening case for why the playing field in higher education is still not level, despite all the attempts during the past several decades to make it so. This book should be read by everyone who cares about preserving higher education as a route for developing talent, not rewarding privilege. Daniel Golden explains why in this passionately written and bitingly acute book.

What wealthy parents do to get their kids into elite colleges (legally)

He names names—and test scores, and family donation levels. In the wake of this book, the university establishment has some explaining to do. I hope the book helps move colleges toward more equitable practices. With vigorous prose and artful anecdotes, Golden tells a chilling story of double standards and double crossings. He reminds us that when elite college admissions go to the highest bidders, we all pay the price. Actually, probably both. Golden, himself a Harvard alum, details the ways colleges chase after the children of the rich and powerful, like paparazzi pursuing Paris Hilton.

With clarity and moral force, Golden shows that our greatest universities have been sacrificing their highest ideals on behalf of base pursuits unworthy of their names. The Price of Admission forces the reader to wonder how affirmative action can be deemed controversial when favoritism of the white and wealthy is overly prominent in elite colleges. Who suffers in all this?

And, as the gap widens between the haves and the have-nots, money shouts.