It’s a refrain we’ve heard so many times before: “But an admissions officer said so.” Oh? If an admissions officer said so, then it must be true? No. If p, then not necessarily q. You see, admissions officers — even at our nation’s most elite universities — tell untruths. Sometimes they know they’re telling untruths and sometimes they’ve told these untruths and been told these untruths so many times by their superiors that they start believing their own nonsense. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy in that way. We have not been shy over the years to speak truth to power, to call out admissions officers for perpetuating falsehoods about the highly selective college admissions process, falsehoods that only make it more stressful for all involved.
5 Lies Perpetuated by College Admissions Officers
So what are some of these lies perpetuated by admissions officers? There are so many but we’ll lead with five today.
1. “We do not consider your ability to pay when weighing your case for admission.” Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Emma González has a word for that kind of malarkey. If a school truly did not consider a student’s ability to pay when weighing their case for admission, then why on the vast majority of college supplements does it ask students if they need financial aid? Why would this not be on a totally separate document that the very admissions officers weighing a student’s case for admission could never see? Also, if a school really was “need blind,” they’d risk dipping into their endowment and eventually going broke. Colleges rely on tuition dollars. At many of our nation’s elite schools, even the full cost of tuition doesn’t cover the expense of four years of educating that student. So imagine if a school admitted a class in which the vast majority of students needed financial aid…a risk they’d run if they were truly need-blind. They’d be in quite the pickle. But colleges would never be in such a pickle and that’s because need-blind admissions is a total, absolute, 100%, complete and utter lie. Should we add an exclamation point to drive our point home?
2. “The edge for legacy applicants is essentially if two students are equal in all areas and one student is legacy and one is not, only then will the legacy earn admission over the non-legacy.” Where’s Emma? We need her again. Malarkey. 25% of Early Decision admits to the University of Pennsylvania’s Class of 2022 were legacies. If legacy status in admission was really so inconsequential, then surely a quarter of all Early Decision admits to an Ivy League university would not be the children and grandchildren of Penn alumni. And let us not forget that development cases are often legacy applicants, too. The notion that the child of an alum who has donated tens of millions of dollars to a university is on more or less equal footing with a non-legacy applicant is laughable. From atop Ivy Coach’s soapbox in college admissions, we’ve been calling for an end to the practice of legacy admission — particularly over this past year. We don’t plan on backing down anytime soon — fear not.
3. “The school from which a student applies matters not. It’s all about the student.” That’s funny. A high school’s relationship with a given college matters a great deal. All schools are not created equal. A student with perfect grades from a high school that doesn’t place a whole lot of students at top colleges isn’t on equal footing with a student from a top school — public or private — who also happens to have perfect grades. The student from the top school has the edge. If this were not the case, so many students from schools like Exeter would not earn admission each year to America’s elite institutions (although, side note, some of their students get some really bad advice — it’s why we have worked with so many students from Exeter over the years).
4. “Students need not visit to show interest. We don’t measure demonstrated interest.” Uh huh. Just about every highly selective college is insecure in that they want to ensure that an applicant really does love them over all other schools. A low yield will adversely impact a school’s all-important “US News & World Report” ranking. If a school has an Early Decision program, that’s surely one way of showing interest — but there are other ways too (e.g., citing specific after specific in Why College essays). The only school in America that can really make the credible argument that they don’t care about whether or not you express interest in them is Harvard. And that’s because Harvard knows that if you get into Harvard, you tend to go to Harvard. Harvard’s secure like that. It’s Harvard. The most insecure school? We’d argue that would be Emory University. Sorry, Emory.
5. “Asian American applicants don’t face discrimination in the admissions process.” Riiiiiight. While we’ve very publicly disagreed with how some Asian American groups trying to combat this discrimination have waged their challenge, we have shouted from atop our soapbox in college admissions for many years about the discrimination too many Asian American applicants face in the process. The fact is admissions officers so often don’t even realize it when they’re stereotyping an applicant. When so many Asian American applicants present the same or similar profiles to college admissions officers — and they do — these folks end up weighing one Asian American applicant up against the next. And that shouldn’t be. Of course, our Asian American students at Ivy Coach don’t have this problem since our students present as wonderfully weird. They certainly don’t present with the same or similar profiles as so many other Asian American applicants. No way, not ever!
Have a question, concern, or wish to share what you ate for breakfast? Let us know your thoughts on these 5 lies perpetuated by college admissions officers by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!