Tag Archives: college admissions

The College Bubble: A Higher Ed Round-Up

Back in 2014, ztevenz, a blogger before my time, started a series of posts entitled “The College Bubble: A Higher Ed Roundup” which gave digests of recent news events that happening at college campuses nationwide. Several events in the past two years, most notably the anti-racist demonstrations begun by Concerned Student 1950 at Mizzou and the nationwide sanctuary campus movement orchestrated by Movimiento Cosecha, have generated talks of rebooting the feature. And now it’s finally happening! So here’s a roundup of things that have been going on recently at various colleges and universities:

Early Decision Letters Go Out to the Class of 2018, College Confidential Explodes

Yes, I know, we all feel really fucking old.


Breaking news: Some of the youngsters of the class of 2018 (yes, meaning most of them were born in 1996) have been accepted to Wes through Early Decision, and they are now officially part of the Wesleyan community. Holla at all the prefrosh who are reading this post, and welcome to the Bestleyan.

Oh the little ED applicants.

Oh the little ED applicants.

As usual, however, no one really cares about the actual members of the class; we’re all in it for the WesAdmits 2018 page (which does in fact exist already!). Prefrosh who are reading this: Save yourself some awkwardness when you get to campus and know your WesAdmits etiquette.

  • About 70% of the upperclassmen on WesAdmits are totally trolling the shit out of you. When they say really random things things like, “All Wesleyan dorms are being equipped with froyo machines next year!”, they’re expecting you to be gullible. Last year one of my friends convinced an entire group of freshmen that Summerfields was getting a Starbucks express line.
  • Don’t talk about all the other colleges you were going to apply to. You got into Wesleyan ED; those other colleges don’t mean anything now. Stop trying to impress everyone with how you were going to apply to Brown ED but didn’t because you were too authentic for that Ivy League life.
  • Don’t post pictures of you holding your acceptance letter on WesAdmits. Some weird upperclassmen will turn it into their Facebook cover photo. Plus it just looks awkward.
  • Do NOT for the love of all that is Wesleyan friend request everyone in the WesAdmits Facebook group. It’s been two years since I got into Wesleyan, and to this day, every time my friends and I see the kid from my class year who friended 350+ Wes ED classmates back in December 2011, someone yells, “That’s the dude who friended all the people on WesAdmits!”

Does Money Buy Education? – 7:30 PM, Wednesday, October 2

From Micaela Kaye ’16:

Come to “Does Money Buy Education?” presented by the WesDEFs! Through interactive activities and discussion we aim to raise awareness about the role money plays in education. We will look at how money is allocated in high schools as well as how money (and class) plays a role in college admissions.

Date: Wednesday, October 9th
Time: 7:30 pm
Place: 41 Wyllys Room 112

Ten Things We Learned About Wesleyan from Reading ‘The Gatekeepers’ in High School

Today, Jacques Steinberg returns to campus. We’re looking back at his classic book.

The man, the myth, the legend—Jacques Steinberg.

The man, the myth, the legend—Jacques Steinberg.

Jacques Steinberg’s The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College is pretty much indisputably the most illuminating and insightful book written in the past few decades about elite college admissions, which Steinberg terms a series of decisions made “behind a cordon of security befitting the selection of a pope.” Conveniently, it also happens to focus on Wes. Steinberg, a journalist and education expert, tracks a diverse group of high school seniors and a then-Wesleyan admissions officer (Ralph Figueroa, currently Director of College Guidance at Albuquerque Academy) as they navigate the 19992000 admissions cycle.

Along with a handful of other Wesleying staffers, I read the book in high school, around the time I decided to apply to Wesleyan, and realized what I had already suspected: college admissions is about as complex, random, and ultimately meaningless as—well, the selection of a pope. It also makes for more thrilling drama than any reality show on TV. Before the rise of CollegeConfidential, The Gatekeepers was the most intimate glimpse at the people on both sides of the admissions process that existed. In fairness, it still is, because CollegeConfidential is a hellish underworld.

Mr. Steinberg, who also founded the New York Times’ “The Choice” blog, where he recently announced his departure from the newspaper after 25 years, is on his way to Middletown yet again. This time, he’s not writing a book about us (we think). He’s coming to lead a talk and Q&A in the Chapel, which is being hosted by the WSA. In honor of this glorious occasion, here’s a round-up of six things we learned about Wesleyan from The Gatekeepers—before even setting foot on campus.

RD Letters Go Out to the Class of 2017, WesAdmits Doesn’t Heat Up

#dearwesleyan2017 Start a band, don’t forget to shower.


Congrats to all the prefrosh currently reading this post! YAY. YOU GOT IN. WOOOOO.

In other Wesleyan admissions decision news:

  • Wesleyan’s College Confidential page is blowing up as students try to pinpoint what could have possibly gone wrong/gone right/gone eh by writing up and publishing their entire high school résumés online.
  • Twitter goes crazy.
  • WesAdmits 2017 is lukewarm at best. No crazy posts asking about the circus count at Wesleyan, no “Convince me to choose Wesleyan over Brown” assholes, and no ridiculous amounts of upperclassmen trolling. Sigh. PREFROSH, MAKE IT BETTER.

See lots of prefrosh being all prefrosh-y (plus a special appearance by the Usdan Cooks) after the jump.

Applications Surge 4.52%, Exceed 10k Again

Hopefully the number of frosh sharing a Fauver room doesn’t also surge 4.52%.

According to a recent post on the New York TimesThe Choice blog (maintained, as ever, by Gatekeepers writer and NYT admissions guru Jacques Steinberg), Wesleyan has received 10,437 applications for the class of 2016. That’s a 4.52% increase from last year, making this only the fourth year that applications have exceeded 10,000.  It also means 2016 is damn close to topping 2014’s record 10,656 applicants—the most selective year ever. (With any housing luck, this year may well be more selective. Fauver’s looking pretty rough lately.)

Not that the article is all about Wes—Steinberg already wrote a book to that effect. You can view the handy application tally chart and see what’s up at a number of high profile universities across the country, from UC Berkeley (up nearly 17 percent) to Columbia (down 8.9%).

“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.


Harvard Student Calls for Randomized Admissions

Here’s some food for thought, at least until many of us dig in to real food tomorrow: should college admissions be reexamined, even moreso than in recent controversy and administrative panels? A Harvard junior argues so, in a Harvard Crimson editorial piece titled “The Lottery: The only fair way to admit people to Harvard is to randomize admissions.” Dylan R. Matthews ’12 argues that the current admissions system used by Harvard and other private universities across the country works against the goals it sets out to achieve:

William R. Fitzsimmons ’67, Harvard’s long-time dean of admissions and financial aid, has said that 80 to 90 percent of Harvard applicants are qualified to be here. Harvard should identify that 80 to 90 percent, and then randomly accept 1600-1700 of them.

Some will no doubt object that this will undermine the “excellence” of Harvard’s student body. It will, and that’s exactly the point. For one thing, “excellence” in the Harvard admissions process—and at Harvard—has a lot less to do with virtuous character traits than with an ability to game the system. By placing a premium on students who go above and beyond in extracurricular realms, Harvard has attracted a number of truly incredible people but has also encouraged a high school arms race wherein kids cram their schedules with activities in an attempt to attract admissions officers.

By selecting for this kind of behavior, the admissions process doesn’t encourage real excellence, but, to use the novelist Walter Kirn’s term from his hilarious book and essay “Lost in the Meritocracy,” “aptitude for showing aptitude.” This may well be of use in students’ careers after college, but it is orthogonal if not antithetical to the goals of a liberal arts education.

The post is already alive with discussion, which are viewable with the full text of the article at the Harvard Crimson’s website. Where do you stand on the proposal? Does this seem fully applicable to Wesleyan’s admissions policy? Would this be a change in the right direction, or is change even necessary at all here? Share your thoughts in the comments, before your post-colonial guilt seeps into the flavor of the systematically butchered turkey and poisons the already genocide-tinged taste of your gluten-free stuffing.

[Article via anonymous Shoutbox tip.]

Yale-admitted Quadruplets also considering Wes

yale quadruplets

In the midst of finals last week we missed posting this from last Friday’s NY Times front page: for the first time ever, Yale admitted a full set of quadruplets from its early-admission applicant pool, the high-achieving Crouch siblings of Danbury, Connecticut. Like many multiples, the Crouches are hesitant to follow each other to college, and apparently half of the tetrad is considering Wesleyan.

The “obvious free spirit” Martina, who wears a smudge of bright red makeup under each eye to promote eye contact, is intrigued by Wesleyan and NYU, as is Carol, “the family’s acknowledged social conscience” who wears her hair in an oversize Afro.

Sounds about right! But really, if the four-way foray to Yale is too much to bear for the Crouch women, they are clearly an automatic match here.

NY Times: Boola Boola, Boola Boola – Yale Says Yes, 4 Times

Panel to Study Gender Bias in College Admissions

college admissions

A panel of civil rights investigators plans to begin reviewing admissions data to determine whether “female students have become so plentiful in higher education that institutions have entered a new era of discrimination against them.” The investigation focuses on D.C. schools, but the Washington Post also mentions data from William and Mary, Vassar, Swarthmore, and—shocker—Wesleyan, which in 2008 admitted 30 percent of its male applicants but only 25 percent of females. No word on the discrepancy in last year’s applicants. From the Washington Post:

Over the past 40 years, women have gone from underrepresented minority to overrepresented majority on U.S. college campuses, where they outnumber men by a proportion approaching 60-40. Barriers that kept women from college have been swept away, and scholarly focus has shifted to the impediments facing men, who are more likely to drop out of school and more apt to go into the military, manual-labor jobs or prison.

It’s no secret that way more women than men apply to liberal arts colleges—after all, liberal arts are totally girly subjects conversely, men are incredibly overrepresented in engineering/technology schools’ admission—but the degree to which it reflects in admissions data at Wes is still pretty striking. Whether it should be questioned as a civil rights issue, or regarded as more or less valid than race-based affirmative action, however, is worth discussing.

Full article: Panel to Study Whether Men are Favored in Area Schools’ Admissions

Edit: Wesleyan’s data is not the subject of the study, but it is quoted in the article and obviously relevant to the discussion.