Conservatism in Ivy League College Admissions

Politics on College Campuses, Politics in Admissions, Political Thoughts in Admissions

There’s a piece in today’s “Yale Daily News” on campus politics.

It’s well known that the vast majority of American college campuses tend to veer to the left politically. And the data backs up this perception. A study published in “Economic Journal Watch” in January of this year reported that liberal professors outnumbered conservative professors in certain departments at 40 leading U.S. universities by a margin of 11.5 to 1. Shocking, we know. But many folks often assume that because American universities tend to have a liberal bias that it would be to a college applicant’s disadvantage to present conservative viewpoints. We would argue that these folks assume as much incorrectly. Highly selective colleges, and especially their admissions offices, seek to enroll a diverse and talented group of students each year. Diversity of opinion is part of this diversity these colleges seek.

Are Ivy League Colleges Appealing to Conservatives?

Just as highly selective colleges, including the Ivy League colleges, seek to admit low and middle income young people, just as they seek to admit African American, Latino, and Native American applicants, you bet that these colleges actively seek to admit students from both sides of the political spectrum. While it’s not always as easy to gauge since the Common Application certainly does not ask students if they lean left or right, it’s safe to assume that the efforts by colleges to seek geographic diversity goes hand in hand with seeking diversity of opinion. Highly selective colleges want rural students from Alabama and, yes, admissions officers at these institutions weren’t born yesterday. They know that the families of rural students from Alabama tend to lean to the right. They also know that children tend, overwhelmingly, to share much of their parents’ political opinions.

Ivy League Colleges Seek to Create Political Balance on Campuses

And we anticipate that our nation’s most highly selective colleges will make even greater efforts to appeal to conservative applicants and their families this admissions cycle — and in the cycles to come. In fact, in today’s “Yale Daily News,” there was a piece entitled “Ivies debate campus politics” by Anastasiia Posnova and Natalie Wright in which they write, “This year, on an annual survey of admissions directors by the website Inside Higher Ed, 36 percent of [respondents] — representing 453 unnamed institutions — ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that the election outcome showed that colleges should recruit more students from rural areas. Thirty-eight percent said that their colleges have started recruiting more students from rural areas since the election, 30 percent said they have since conducted more outreach to low-income Caucasian students and 8 percent reported recruiting conservative students specifically.” So, yes, the results of the 2016 presidential election have only further encouraged these institutions to seek out conservative students in the hope of creating greater campus political balance.

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