The Admission of Younger Siblings

Younger Sibling Admission, Admission of Sister to Brown, Admission of Brother to Brown

There’s a great editorial on the admission of siblings in “The Brown Daily Herald” by a current student whose sister is applying for admission to Brown.

Are younger siblings at an advantage when they apply to a highly selective college that their older sibling attends or attended in the past? Yes, with one important caveat. They must apply in the Early Decision or Early Action round — not in the Regular Decision round. At most highly selective colleges, if these younger siblings choose not to apply Early to the institution that their older sibling attends or attended, they will lose those sibling bonus points in admissions. And this all brings us to an editorial written by a current Brown student, Mark Liang, in which he powerfully articulates on the pages of “The Brown Daily Herald” why Brown should admit his younger sister. It’s a terrific editorial that hangs a lantern on some of the inequities in the highly selective college admissions process and it’s one that not so subtly speaks to the advantage of family connections to a university.

A Plea from a Brown Student to Brown Admissions

Liang writes in his piece for “The Brown Daily Herald” entitled “Let my sister into Brown,” “I didn’t apply early decision, but I nevertheless have a modest proposal for the Admission Office: Please, pretty please, let my sister — Joyce Shao-Wei Liang, Aries, would-be Sagittarius and current high school senior — into Brown. Why? Just because. After all, since when does Brown need clear reasons to make their admission decisions? Sure, there are many non-academic intangibles that could affect her acceptance — but then again, Brown has always made it clear that those intangibles are not major factors in admissions, so why should we even worry?”

And from there, he gets pithy. There’s this zinger: “I mean, it’s not like Brown ever considers legacy status, sibling or otherwise. Nepotism absolutely does not exist in any form within the hallowed halls of this university!” And this one: “And we know that my sister’s decision to apply to Brown early won’t matter at all, because when has early decision ever affected people’s chances? The Admission Office’s website clearly states, ‘The Board of Admission makes the same decisions under Early Decision that it would under the Regular Decision plan.'” Or this one: “And it’s not like the college-admissions game is money-driven in any way. Money is a social construct and has no role to play in any decision made by this university.”

An Ill-Advised Editorial on the Admission of a Sibling

No doubt, Liang’s editorial is the finest editorial we’ve read in a college newspaper in 2017. And, as our readers know well, we read a whole lot of editorials on the college admissions process. His writing is pointed, acerbic, and the piece is not only well crafted but it also happens to all be true. Of course, like at every highly selective institution, there is nepotism at Brown. Of course legacy status matters. Of course Early Decision candidates to Brown are at a distinct advantage over Regular Decision candidates. Of course money is a factor in admissions decisions — colleges are not truly need-blind.

But why did Liang write this editorial now in Brown’s student newspaper? Why here, why now? As he shares, his sister is currently up for admission in the Early Decision round at Brown. Calling admissions officers out on the hypocrisy of the entire process won’t serve his sister’s case for admission. We sure do hope this piece doesn’t hurt his sister’s case for admission because if his sister is anything like her brother, she’s sharp, fun, and insightful — she’d be everything Brown should be looking for in applicants. And yet if his sister, Joyce Shao-Wei Liang, were our student at Ivy Coach, we’d have never allowed her older brother to write this piece. No way. We’d have censored him. Hopefully, for Mark’s sister’s sake, the Brown admissions office is extremely self-aware and self-deprecating.

Have a question on the admission of younger siblings? Let us know your question by posting it below. We look forward to hearing from you!


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  • Nicole says:

    My oldest daughter is a junior at Cornell and my younger daughter just applied ED to the same college within the University. However, the common app clearly asks if the legacy is a parent,grandparent or great grandparent. There is no place to indicate sibling. She did mention visiting her sister at Cornell in her supplement but will they even see that if she doesn’t make it past the initial round?

    • Ivy Coach says:

      Take another look at the Common Application — under siblings ;). The Common Application does indeed ask where siblings attend or attended college. Contrary to your assertion, the Common Application does not ask anything of legacy status. Perhaps you’re referring to the Cornell supplement to the Common Application? And why wouldn’t they be reading her essays? What makes you assume there is an initial round in which her essays are not read? You’d be wrong to think as much.

  • Sid says:

    My elder daughter went to Cornell and graduated last year. My younger daughter is getting ready and would like to attend the same university. In order to get legacy advantage, will she need to apply under same school (i.e. Agriculture, A&S, or Engineering) or she can choose any school of her choice within Cornell?

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