Harvard Report on Admissions

Harvard Admissions Report, Harvard College Admissions Report, Report from Harvard on Admissions

The report coming out of the Harvard Graduate School of Education on highly selective college admissions deals in the theoretical, not the actual.

There’s a piece up on “Forbes” by Dan Edmonds entitled “Why Harvard-Recommended ‘Compassionate Admissions’ Won’t Change Anything” that we figured we’d opine about. Because that’s what we do. From the title alone, we have to say — it seems Mr. Edmonds is one the same page as us. After all, we have been vocal about how we believe the “Turning the Tide” report that generated a whole lot of ink in the press isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. The whole objective of the paper coming out of the Harvard Graduate School of Education was to propose ways to make the college admissions process more equitable, to encourage underprivileged students to apply to highly selective colleges like Harvard. But, ultimately, the report was a “duh,” pages and pages worth of super obvious criticisms about the admissions process with little in the way of solutions.

As Dan Edmonds writes in his editorial, “These suggested changes in emphasis are welcome. But it would be naive to suppose that they will lead to a radical change in admissions at highly selective schools unless there are deeper changes to other factors that affect those schools’ admissions decisions, namely the preferential treatment given to legacy applicants and recruited athletes, the outsized influence U.S. News rankings have on college behavior (and public perception of top schools), and the growing focus that school presidents and boards of trustees have on school endowments, which are largely driven by donations from monied alumni.”

It’s one thing to generate a report and try to get some press. It’s quite another to effect real-world change. The Harvard Graduate School of Education report ironically generated more press before its publication, thanks to Frank Bruni of “The New York Times” than did the report itself. In fact, the response to the report across the college admissions community was one largely of silence. And that’s because it didn’t tell the community much of anything we didn’t already now. In fact, it didn’t tell us anything at all. Such is a drawback of academia — they deal in the theoretical, not the actual.

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