Saturday, January 8, 2011

College Legacy Preference Admissions Increases Chance Seven Times Lawsuits

Tags: College Legacy Preference Admissions Increases Chance Seven Times Affirmative Action for Rich

Legacy family connections take up at least half of Ivy League school admissions. Donating large amounts of money helps considerably. Even poor students with low SATs can get in such as Al Gore’s son (Auto brain injury) to Harvard and former Republican Senate majority leader William Frist, a heart surgeon and heir to family healthcare fortune, donated a new building to Princeton where his son was drunk most of the time. Princeton had to admit seven other applications from the same prep school to justify admitting Frist's son.

One of the few articles talking about the advantages of the best private schools on SAT scores. One Chinese girl got a horrible SAT score in California. Somehow here poor parents got together enough money to enroll her in an SAT course and improved her scores by 1,000 points. Those affluent and rich very rarely increase their SAT scores on their second or third try after repeatedly attending the best SAT courses.

One Chinese-American, son of immigrants, had a perfect SAT, spent a lot of time in many projects outside school to help others effectively in high school, very articulate and popular, but, was not accepted at any of the Ivy League schools. He sued and was accepted at Dartmouth. Left unsaid is that Jews and Asians make up about half of the admissions so Asians who are more visible are rejected to maintain balance. White students at Brown University attacked Asian students because they were thought to be too competitive in class.

The New York Times this weekend will have an article about Chinese moms making the difference in the academic excellence of their children.

Jim Kawakami, Jan 8, 2011,

Family Connections Provide Huge Advantage in Admissions Best Colleges, Tamar Lewin NY Times, Jan 8, 2011, A new study of admissions at 30 highly selective colleges found that legacy applicants get a big advantage over those with no family connections to the institution — but the benefit is far greater for those with a parent who earned an undergraduate degree at the college than for those with other family connections.

According to the study, by Michael Hurwitz, a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, 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.

Legacy admissions have become an increasingly touchy issue for colleges. Admissions officers mostly play down the impact of legacy status. But a growing body of research shows that family connections count for a lot — and Mr. Hurwitz’s study found a larger impact than previous studies.

And at a time when admission to elite colleges has become increasingly competitive, critics say the legacy admissions advantage stands as an undemocratic obstacle to social mobility.

“It’s fundamentally unfair because it’s a preference that advantages the already advantaged,” said Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a nonprofit research organization. “It has nothing to do with the individual merit of the applicant.”

Mr. Kahlenberg, the author of “Affirmative Action for the Rich: Legacy Preferences in College Admissions,” said a legal challenge to legacy preferences is becoming likely. Public university preferences could be attacked as unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection, he said, while private universities might be vulnerable under an 1866 civil rights statute prohibiting discrimination based on “ancestry.”

Mr. Hurwitz’s study, published in “Economics of Education Review,” looked at data from 133,236 applicants for 2007 college admission, and analyzed the outcomes of the 61,962 who applied to more than one of the elite colleges. That allowed him to compare how much more likely they were to be offered admission where they had family connections.

“I was able to take into account all the applicant’s characteristics,” Mr. Hurwitz said, “because they were the same at every school they applied to. About the only thing that would be different was their legacy status.”

Family donations were not included in the data.

On average, Mr. Hurwitz’s study found, legacy applicants had slightly higher SAT scores than others. Education researchers point out that students whose parents attended elite colleges are also more likely to have advantages like family wealth and private school education.

Thomas P. Espenshade, a Princeton sociologist who has studied legacy admissions, said Mr. Hurwitz’s study was the first to compare the advantage to students applying to a parent’s alma mater with that of students with other family ties.

Mr. Espenshade pointed out that legacy status is just one of many possible advantages.

“We did a paper that found that if you are an athlete, you have 4.2 times the likelihood of admission as a nonathlete,” he said. “The advantages for underrepresented minorities are pretty big, too.”

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.

As a condition of access to the data, Mr. Hurwitz said, he agreed not to identify the colleges.

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.

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