A few weeks ago, we were quoted in a “Business Insider” piece that focused on mistakes students who’ve been admitted to college make that can jeopardize their admission. The piece was published in the wake of the scandal at Harvard University in which over ten students admitted to the Harvard Class of 2021 had their offers of admission rescinded because of racist, homophobic, and/or anti-Semitic posts on a Facebook page. We applauded Harvard’s decision. After all, it took courage for the university to stand on its principles and — at the risk of bringing to light the Facebook page to the public — fire a warning shot that such comments are inexcusable and not representative of the Harvard community.
But not everybody is applauding the move. Well respected attorney and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz was quoted in a “Fox News” piece by Molly Line on the topic of the Harvard rescinded offers of admission as deeming the move by Harvard to be “draconian” and “over-punishment.” As Line writes, “‘Harvard is a private university, technically not bound by the First Amendment, but since I got to Harvard 53 years ago, Harvard has committed itself to following the First Amendment and I think this violates the spirit and the letter of the First Amendment,’ said Dershowitz. Harvard officials declined Fox News’ request for an interview, stating: ‘We do not comment publicly on the admissions status of individual applicants.’ However, the school reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission for many reasons, including student behavior that ‘brings into question their honesty, maturity, or moral character.'” They sure do reserve that right!
We wholeheartedly disagree with Professor Dershowitz. As he states, Harvard is a.) not bound to adhering the first amendment since the school is a private institution, b.) these students were not even members of the Harvard community yet — merely admitted students who had not yet matriculated, c.) the exercise of racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic language is undeserving of protection. Dershowitz correctly points out that there is no legal basis to challenge the decision of Harvard to rescind these offers of admission. In fact, the school explicitly stated as much when these students received their offers of admission. And beyond the university’s strong legal footing on the matter, they simply did the right thing.
As we wrote yesterday about the presidents of the eight Ivy League universities — and how four of these presidents happen to be female — we figured we’d report on the announced resignation of Harvard’s first female president, Drew Gilpin Faust. Faust recently announced that she intends to step down from the top spot at Harvard at the end of next year, at the culmination of her eleventh year leading the elite institution. For those who may have forgotten, Faust succeeded Larry Summers as Harvard’s president, a man who despicably — and erroneously — suggested that women may lack an intrinsic aptitude for math and science. And while Summers would issue an apology to the Harvard community in the wake of his incendiary comments, it was only fitting that a woman would succeed him. The first in Harvard’s storied history.
As reports Stephanie Saul for “The New York Times” in a piece about the Harvard president’s intended resignation, “Dr. Faust, a well-liked historian known for her scholarship on the American South, was appointed in 2007 after a turbulent period in which her predecessor, Lawrence H. Summers, an economist and former Treasury secretary, alienated significant portions of the faculty. The gracious Dr. Faust, in some ways an unlikely choice to lead the university because she did not attend Harvard, was viewed as the antidote to Dr. Summers’s pugnacious style. Moreover, the selection of a woman — after Dr. Summers’s controversial suggestion that women might lack an aptitude for science and math — appeared to usher in a new era.
The piece goes on, “Indeed, Dr. Faust is credited with increasing the university’s ethnic and economic diversity, partly by expanding its financial aid program. Harvard, founded in 1636 and once considered an institution only for the elite, remains tilted toward the wealthy, including many children of alumni. But one in five undergraduates today comes from a family with income below $65,000 a year, and those students attend free, according to the university. The percentage of students who identify as African-American grew modestly during Dr. Faust’s tenure, to 10 percent from 8 percent, according to Harvard data. The percentage of Latino students also increased.”
It will be interesting to see who Harvard selects as its next leader. Here’s hoping this leader continues in shaping the grand vision of Dr. Faust — a Harvard University that is more open and more inclusive to people of all backgrounds no matter their ability to pay.
There was a terrific piece recently in “The Chronicle of Higher Education” written by Audrey Williams June. The piece, entitled “Gender Balance at the Top of Ivy League Colleges Remains an Outlier in Academe” focuses on how four — as in half — of the Ivy League colleges were led by female presidents in 2007, a stark contrast from even just several years before. Presently, that figure remains the same — female presidents lead four of the eight Ivy League institutions.
In 2007, Shirley M. Tilghman served as president of Princeton University (Christopher L. Eisgruber is the current president of Princeton). At Dartmouth College, James Wright was wrapping up his tenure. He would be succeeded by Jim Yong Kim, the current president of the World Bank. Kim was the first Asian American president of an Ivy League institution (the current president of Dartmouth is Philip J. Hanlon). At Cornell University, David Skorkon served as president in 2007, but he was succeeded by the late Elizabeth Garrett (the current president of Cornell is Martha E. Pollack).
Half of the Ivy League colleges are currently led by women. But these schools are largely an outlier across the landscape of American universities.
At Yale University, Richard Levin served as president in 2007, and he was succeeded by Peter Salovey. A female has only held the top post at Yale on a pro tempore basis — Hanna Holborn Gray. At the University of Pennsylvania, Amy Gutmann has served as president since 2004 (and she had succeeded Judih Rodin who served in the role for a decade). At Harvard University, Drew Gilpin Faust has served as president since 2007, though she’ll be stepping down from her post at the end of next year. At Columbia University, Lee Bollinger has been in charge since 2002. And at Brown University, Christina Paxson serves as president. Paxson succeeded Ruth Simmons, the barrier-breaking first African American president of an Ivy League institution.
But the piece in “The Chronicle of Higher Education” isn’t just about how half of the Ivy League colleges are led by female presidents. It’s about how other colleges across America haven’t really followed this trend — how the Ivy League is, in many ways, an outlier in this respect. Do check out the piece to gain an understanding of the gender imbalance at the top of American universities. It sure does make you appreciate how a school like the University of Pennsylvania has been led for so many years by women. Way to go, UPenn!
The Dartmouth College case, which we wrote about yesterday, may be one of the most famous Supreme Court cases in American history, but there’s a Harvard admissions case currently before the courts that’s also raising some eyebrows. Regular readers of our college admissions blog know where we at Ivy Coach stand on the slew of lawsuits that have been filed against highly selective American universities by organizations alleging discrimination against Asian American applicants. If you’re not familiar with our stance, to put it succinctly: Of course Asian Americans are discriminated against in highly selective college admissions. Of course it’s wrong. Of course it must change — Asian Americans deserve better in highly selective college admissions. But filing lawsuits against these universities isn’t the way to bring about this kind of change in America. Not now. Not ever.
Change in America starts with the populace. Selma. Seneca Falls. Stonewall. It doesn’t start in a courtroom. Students for Fair Admissions would be wise to study our American history if the organization truly wishes to bring about change.
One of these actions is being brought against Harvard University by Students for Fair Admissions, an organization we’ve written about extensively on the pages of our blog. Well, in the arduous legal process, SFFA has scored a minor early victory. They haven’t yet gotten their case dismissed (hey, it’s important to celebrate the small victories in life!). As reports William S. Flanagan and Michael E. Xie for “The Harvard Crimson” in a piece entitled “Court Rejects Harvard’s Dismissal of Admissions Lawsuit,” “A federal court rejected Harvard’s motion to dismiss an ongoing lawsuit accusing the College of race-based discrimination against Asian Americans in its admissions practices. Harvard filed its motion to dismiss the lawsuit in Sept. 2016, arguing that the case’s plaintiff—the anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions—lacked the grounds to litigate on behalf of its members because those members ‘have no power to influence [the organization’s] conduct.'”
At Ivy Coach, as our loyal readers know well, we have a famous crystal ball. It’s been cited on the pages of America’s oldest college newspaper, “The Dartmouth.” It can predict if a student is going to get in — or not. It can predict if SFFA or Harvard will win this particular lawsuit. So what does Ivy Coach’s crystal ball predict, you ask? Dim the lights. Our reading indicates that Harvard University will claim victory.
Have a question about this Harvard admissions case? Let us know what you’re thinking by posting a Comment below.
As Ivy Coach is often quoted in Ivy League newspapers, we figured we’d offer our readers some history of the student-run newspapers of the eight Ivy League colleges. Because we know you woke up wondering — I wonder which one has been around the longest. Ok, maybe you didn’t wake up with this burning question on your mind. But we’ll offer you insight anyway because why not.
“The Dartmouth” is “America’s oldest college newspaper,” previously published as “Dartmouth Gazette” and “The Dartmouth Daily.” Indeed that’s the newspaper’s tagline. The student-run publication of Dartmouth College was founded in 1799. “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” the newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania, was founded in 1885 — or 86 years after the birth of Dartmouth’s newspaper. “The Harvard Crimson,” the newspaper of Harvard University and the only daily newspaper in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was founded in 1873. Brown’s newspaper, “The Brown Daily Herald,” has been around since 1891. “The Daily Princetonian,” the newspaper of Princeton University, was founded in 1876 and started running daily beginning in 1892.
In the first issue of “Dartmouth Gazette,” someone named ‘Icarus’ published a short story and poem. ‘Icarus’ turned out to be none other than the great American diplomat Daniel Webster.
“The Columbia Daily Spectator” has been around since 1877 at Columbia University. It’s been independent since 1961. Hey, it took some time for Columbia’s student journalists to throw a tea party. Ok, bad joke. We know. “The Cornell Daily Sun,” the newspaper of Cornell University, was previously called “The Cornell Sun” and it was founded in 1880 by William Ballard Hoyt — apparently to compete against a weekly publication known as “Cornell Era,” which was founded in 1868.
“The Yale Daily News,” the newspaper of Yale University, has been around since January 28, 1878. The newspaper’s tagline is “The oldest college daily.” If your eyebrows are now raised because you thought Dartmouth College’s newspaper was the oldest college newspaper, you’re not wrong. But Dartmouth’s newspaper back then wasn’t published on a daily basis. Hence both Dartmouth and Yale’s newspaper taglines are not contradictory. They’re both correct.
Have a question about the history of one of the eight Ivy League newspapers? Let us know your questions by posting a Comment below.
Ivy Coach was cited this week in a piece up on “Business Insider” by esteemed educational reporter Abby Jackson. The piece focused on the saga coming out of Harvard University yesterday. For those very few folks who don’t happen to read our college admissions blog every day with their oatmeal and coffee and thus may not know about the story coming out of Harvard, several students learned that their admission to the Harvard Class of 2021 had been rescinded because of posts they made in an admitted students Facebook group.
Jackson’s piece, entitled “Obscene Facebook chats reportedly got 10 Harvard students’ admissions revoked — here are all the reasons a college can pull your acceptance,” focuses on causes for Harvard to rescind an offer of admission, which of course is not particularly common — at Harvard or at any highly selective college. But these schools all very explicitly state that they reserve the right to rescind an admission when such offers are extended. As Jackson writes, disciplinary issues, a drop in grades, conduct while on campus, criminal charges, etc. can all be causes for a rescinded acceptance.
As reported in the “Business Insider” piece, “Significant changes to grades can hurt admitted students. ‘Is a B grade going to [result] in a rescind? Highly unlikely,’ Brian Taylor, director of Ivy Coach, told Business Insider. It’s important for students to try and maintain their grades, but they shouldn’t overly worry about minor fluctuations, he said…Students should be aware that their conduct at admitted student weekends is also subject to scrutiny, according to Taylor, who said that issues like underage drinking at fraternity events during these weekends can cause rescinded acceptances in some cases.” You bet. High school students on a college campus overnight for the first time. Access to alcohol. A few students are bound to get into some trouble.
Have a question on rescinded college acceptances? Worried if that ‘B+’ in AP Government is going to result in a rescinded offer of admission? Try to keep your grades at the same level they were at when you were admitted. But also stop worrying so much. It’s not healthy.
At least ten admitted students to the Harvard Class of 2021 learned in mid-April that their offers of admission had been permanently rescinded. That’s right. Just some months after these students received some of the best news of their lives, they were stripped of this achievement — which Harvard absolutely has the right to do. In fact, Harvard explicitly conveys to students with their offer of admission that they reserve this right should something change (e.g., disciplinary action against the student, criminal conviction, a significant drop in grades — you name it because Harvard has that leeway). They can revoke an offer of admission if they so choose. And this year, they did choose. Since this Facebook group was created in December, presumably some of the students whose offers of admission were rescinded had been admitted in the Early Action round. But since the offers weren’t rescinded until Regular Decision notifications were released, it’s likely that Harvard would choose to fill these ten or more slots with students on that Harvard waitlist.
We salute Harvard University for holding firm on their moral standards by revoking offers of admission to at least ten students for their despicable comments on a Facebook page.
As Hannah Natanson reports for “The Crimson” in a piece entitled “Harvard Rescinds Acceptances for At Least Ten Students for Obscene Memes,” “Harvard College rescinded admissions offers to at least ten prospective members of the Class of 2021 after the students traded sexually explicit memes and messages that sometimes targeted minority groups in a private Facebook group chat. A handful of admitted students formed the messaging group—titled, at one point, ‘Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens’—on Facebook in late December, according to two incoming freshmen. In the group, students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson. Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups. One called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child ‘piñata time.’ After discovering the existence and contents of the chat, Harvard administrators revoked admissions offers to at least ten participants in mid-April, according to several members of the group. University officials have previously said that Harvard’s decision to rescind a student’s offer is final.”
So to all students who have received offers of admission to their dream schools, don’t do anything you’ll later deeply regret. Don’t do anything that will jeopardize your admission. Regardless of jeopardizing one’s admission, the posts of these students are absolutely inexcusable and we at Ivy Coach salute Harvard to holding their ground and revoking their offers of admission to so many students who were supposed to be members of their Class of 2021. Harvard states to admitted students: “As a reminder, Harvard College reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions including if an admitted student engages in behavior that brings into question his or her honesty, maturity, or moral character.” And all highly selective colleges state pretty much the same thing with varying language.
Have a question about rescinded offers of admission or that Harvard waitlist? Let us know your thoughts, your questions, your greatest fears…by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.
Curious about international application numbers for the Class of 2021 — this year’s group of rising college freshmen? A number of reporters have been asking us over the course of the last several months if we anticipate that international applicants will be less inclined to apply to American universities because of the rhetoric and proposed immigration bans of the current presidential administration. When we hear this line of questioning, our first instinct is to clarify — are the reporters referring to all American universities or only the highly selective schools? After all, highly selective American schools like the eight Ivy League colleges, Stanford, Duke, MIT, Northwestern, Caltech, Johns Hopkins, etc. are but a small percentage of the hundreds upon hundreds of American universities. Are these reporters referring to the likes of Stanford or are they referring to the schools most of us have never heard of that you might see when you pass their exit on the freeway. Hi DeVry! Sorry, DeVry, but we couldn’t resist.
Based on the data, international applicants to the Class of 2021 did not show any discernible hesitation to apply to America’s most selective universities.
As we expressed in the early days of the Trump presidency, we did not — nor do we now — anticipate a drop in international application numbers to America’s highly selective universities. We did anticipate a drop in international applications to America’s not-so-selective universities and we anticipate this drop will continue over the course of the presidential term. And indeed the numbers have supported our forecasts. Just check out our compiled 2021 Ivy League Admissions Statistics and read through the class profiles at the Ancient Eight institutions. International applicants did not hesitate to apply this year to Ivy League schools. But was that the case across the board for American universities? No. A “US News & World Report” article by Lauren Camera on international application figures cites that “nearly 40 percent of responding U.S. institutions reported a drop in international student applications, particularly from students in the Middle East.” The Middle East. No surprise there.
The fact is that which is true in the Ivy League as well as at other highly selective American universities does not hold true at many of those universities you know only from your drives down America’s freeways. You know those schools we’re referring to — think about it! But do our readers foresee this trend continuing? Will our nation’s most elite universities continue to attract international applicants irrespective of who occupies our nation’s highest office? And will international applications to America’s not-so-selective schools continue to dwindle? Let us know your thoughts on the subject of international application numbers by posting a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.
While you’re here, check out what we’ve got to say about how international students on America’s college campuses are good for America.
LeBron James, currently locked in an uphill battle against Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, recently declared that everybody likes pizza. Or maybe that was just a meme. Who knows. But who doesn’t like pizza? There’s even gluten-free pizza these days. But, Ivy Coach, are you hungry? What’s with all the talk about pizza? You’re supposed to be writing about college admissions. We know, we know. But as “Fox News” reports, a successful applicant to Yale this year wrote about…you guessed it…pizza.
So now we get to talk about pizza. One of Yale’s supplemental essays this past admissions cycle was a 200-word prompt that read, “Tell us about something that you love to do.” Carolina Williams, a student from Tennessee (a great state to be from when applying to a highly selective college like Yale, we should add!), wrote about how she loves to order pizza from Papa Johns. Oh Carolina — there is such better pizza out there in this world than Papa Johns (side note: one of the very best pizza places in the world is right near Columbia University). And while we don’t happen to think the pizza essay is extremely well written (sorry), we do absolutely support the premise.
But, Ivy Coach, why would writing about a love of pizza help you get into college? It won’t per se. But what it will do is make you likeable. When so many other college applicants aim desperately to impress — rendering themselves unlikeable to admissions officers — Carolina Williams dared to write about pizza. She wasn’t trying to impress people. She was just showcasing her personality, even adding in a dollop of intellectual curiosity (e.g., operant conditioning). There is an expression in medicine: “When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses not zebras.” In highly selective college admissions, when you’re trying to get into a school like Yale, think pizza not National Honor Society. Think about it.
And how much pizza can LeBron James truly eat in light of his physique? But we digress.
There’s a really nice piece in “The New York Times” today about first-generation college students. The piece, written by Elizabeth A. Harris and entitled “‘I Won’t Give Up’: How First-Generation Students See College” features the stories of first-generation college students — interviewed by five first-generation college students studying journalism. First-generation college students are one of the most coveted groups of college admissions officers at highly selective colleges. After all, these young people will be the fist in their families to receive college educations and American universities love to facilitate upward mobility in our nation. Think about it. Wouldn’t it give you goosebumps to admit a student to a highly selective college whose parents were never educated beyond high school? Admissions officers are given the chance in these instances to help young people fulfill the American Dream for their families. It’s a rather extraordinary power.
Highly selective colleges indeed compete against one another to lure first-generation college students to apply — and ultimately matriculate if admitted. As you’ll note in the vast majority of press releases at Ivy League schools in which admissions offices tout the demographic profiles of their incoming classes, the percentage of first-generation college students so often gets a mention. At Brown University, for the Class of 2021, 14% of admitted students would be the first in their families to attend college. At Dartmouth College, over 10% of admitted students this year are first-generation. 12.5% of admits to the University of Pennsylvania qualify as first-generation college students. At Princeton University, the same statistic is nearly 20%. 20%! That’s truly extraordinary.
Highly selective colleges are right to boast about the percentage of admitted students who will be the first in their families to attend college. There are so many demographic data points these schools can cite in their press releases about their incoming classes but one data point that so often makes an appearance is the percentage of first-generation college students. We at Ivy Coach salute these schools for the emphasis they place on admitting these young people. And kudos in particular to Princeton University for admitting so many first in their families to attend college that this group constituted 20% of all their admits.