“Affirmative Action for the Rich”

A study at the Harvard Graduate School Education tells us what we already knew: having a legacy helps you get into college.  It might be a bigger advantage than you thought, though.

applicants to a parent’s alma mater had, on average, seven times the odds of admission of nonlegacy applicants. Those whose parents did graduate work there or who had a grandparent, sibling, uncle or aunt who attended the college were, by comparison, only twice as likely to be admitted. […]

Mr. Hurwitz said applicants with the highest SATs got the biggest legacy benefits.

Among the 30 colleges, the legacy advantage varied enormously: one college was more than 15 times as likely to accept legacy applicants, while at another, the effect was insignificant.

The researcher analyzed 2007 admission data for 133,236 applicants and results of the 61,962 who applied to more than one of 30 elite colleges.  He did not take into account whether the family had donated to the school or not, but was able to compare the admissions outcomes where the was a legacy versus where there was not.  The New York Times observes that “Given a table showing characteristics like high endowments and SAT scores and low acceptance rates, it seemed apparent that they are the members of the Consortium on Financing Higher Education, a group made up of the Ivy Leagues and two dozen other private research universities and liberal arts colleges.”  The consortium only actually has 31 schools, including Wesleyan, and the study uses 30.  Given how welcoming Wesleyan has been in the past in giving insight into the admissions process (one of the references is to Gatekeepers), we probably wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume Wesleyan was part of the study.  We can’t actually know for sure because the researcher promised to keep the data anonymous.

You can view the original article if you look for ScienceDirect in “Wesleyan University Library Indexes and Databases.”  If you’re off campus right now, you’ll have to log in there and use the Wesleyan proxy.

[NYT; CHE]

One thought on ““Affirmative Action for the Rich”

  1. Grawp

    It’s too bad the data is anonymous; if school names were matched with data, maybe that would encourage some actual change.

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