Your Son Didn’t Get Rejected Because He Is White

Ivy League Admission, Race in Admission, Race in Ivy Admission
We are frustrated by a leap of logic in a letter to The Atlantic.

Originally Published on February 18, 2019:

Being White Has Nothing to Do With College Rejection

It’s a refrain we often hear from parents — who are not our clients at Ivy Coach — navigating the college admissions process: “My white male son…” It’s a refrain that disgusts us because no matter how these parents follow up their words, they’ve implied in their first utterance that their child is at a hopeless disadvantage as a white male in the elite college admissions process. It’s not true.

The White Male in Admissions Argument

A few years back, we came across a “Dear Therapist” letter in The Atlantic that we shared with our readers. In a letter to Lori Gottlieb, Lisa from Mendham, New Jersey complained of a rigged admissions system:

“My son is in the middle of the college-application process. He has very good grades and very good SAT and ACT scores; he is an Eagle Scout and a captain of the cross-country team. He is also white, male, and upper-middle-class—and that is the problem. According to all of the statistics and reports, he should be accepted at Ivy League schools, but he has not been. He will eventually get into a ‘good’ school, but it is my guess (based on what we are seeing with his peer group) that he will be overqualified for the school he ends up at.”

Ivy Coach’s Response to the Tired White Male in Admissions Argument

The Myth of the Well-Rounded Applicant Argument to Ivy League Schools

Lisa, you wrote that your son had failed to earn admission to Ivy League schools. Based on the date of the publication of your letter, he was presumably deferred or denied admission in the Early round. You wrote that he had “very good” grades and scores, was an Eagle Scout, and ran cross country before citing that he’s a white male. Of his demographics, you write: “That is the problem.”

Oh, how we at Ivy Coach beg to differ! Want to know why your son likely didn’t get in? Suppose your son presented himself in his college applications similarly to how you portrayed him in your letter to The Atlantic. In that case, it’s no wonder he didn’t get in: Ivy League schools aren’t seeking out Eagle Scouts, an organization that, historically, hasn’t been all that accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. They’re not seeing out cross-country runners unless those student-athletes are fast enough to be recruited by the school’s cross-country coach. If not, this activity only serves to make an applicant well-rounded

As Ivy Coach’s loyal readers know, highly selective colleges, like the Ivy League colleges, have not sought to admit well-rounded students for decades. Instead, they wish to admit singularly talented students who excel in one area that will help fulfill an institutional need.

The Myth of the Disadvantaged Male Applicant Argument to Ivy League Schools

These singularly talented students that elite colleges seek to admit come in all different shapes and sizes: male, female, non-binary, white, black, Asian, Latino, Native American, Jewish, Muslim — you name it. Yet it’s clear that Lisa believes males have the deck stacked against them in the admissions process. That’s just plain false.

Elite colleges, including the Ivy League colleges, want to admit gender-balanced classes. Yet, the applicant pool skews heavily female at most highly selective colleges. So, because the institutional need is gender balance, it’s actually easier at most of these schools for males to earn admission than females.

Let’s take Brown University as an example. At Brown, for the 2022-2023 academic year, there were 3,538 undergraduates who self-identified as men and 3,651 who identified as women. At Yale University, during this same year, 3,164 undergraduates self-identified as men and 3,315 as woman. At Harvard University, during the 2021-2022 academic year, the most recent year Harvard has reported to date, 3,536 undergraduates self-identified as men while 3,582 self-identified as women.

Are our readers starting to get the idea? And, remember, imagine the applicant pools if these institutions are trying to balance the classes by gender — even if they’re not succeeding since women regularly outnumber men.

The Myth that It’s Nearly Impossible for White Students to Earn Admission to Ivy League Schools

Now that we’ve dismantled the disadvantaged male argument, let’s address the race component of Lisa’s thesis — with more data.

At Brown, during the 2022-2023 academic year, 3,871 undergraduates self-identified as white out of a total undergraduate student body of 11,189 students — meaning that 34.6% of Brown undergraduates are white.

At Yale, during the 2022-2023 academic year, 2,336 undergraduates self-identified as white out of a total undergraduate student body of 6,645 students. By our arithmetic, 35.15% of Yale undergraduates are thus white.

At Harvard, 2,533 undergraduates out of a total of 7,153 self-identified as white during the 2021-2022 academic year, the most recent year Harvard has reported to The Common Data Set. That’s 35.41% white!

Evidently, it’s not impossible to get into Ivy League schools as white applicants when about 35% of their undergraduate student bodies are white.

There’s No Such Thing as ‘Qualified’ for Admission to the Ivy League

Finally, Lisa, there is also no such thing as being “qualified” for admission to Ivy League schools. Many applicants with perfect or near-perfect grades and scores are denied admission year in and year out. Harvard could fill an entire incoming class — and then some — from the piles of denied students with perfect or near-perfect grades and scores. To suggest that your son is qualified for admission is thus nonsensical. Admission to America’s elite universities is a holistic process.

Misconceptions About Ivy League Admissions Can Lead to Sexist, Racist Leaps of Logic

Lisa’s assertions are based on misconceptions about the highly selective college admissions process, perpetuated by students, parents, school counselors, private college counselors, and others. But then, when she takes the giant leap by asserting that her son’s gender and race are “the problem,” — it’s utterly mind-boggling.

If Lisa wants to believe as much, she has that right. But it sure would have been nice if the therapist responding to the letter in The Atlantic called her out on her misguided sense of the college admissions process rather than soothe her sexist, racist insecurities.


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  • Veritas says:

    Look, race is a factor in college admissions. Lesser qualified minorities are admitted over better qualified white and Asian students for diversity reasons. You may have heard Harvard is being sued about this.

    • Ivy Coach says:

      Of course race is a factor in admissions. How exactly does that counter our points in this post?

      • Michael Conte says:

        Your response is more dismissing and quite hypocritical vs having any substance. Your rebuttal she can think race has something to do with it but it doesn’t. You then respond to a comment by saying it does matter. However, that is a relatively small point to the lack of substance in your response. Your main point is Ivy’s aren’t looking for well rounded students but more singularly specialized which is at best silly because if one has perfect scores or close they excel in everything. In my experience when my daughter applied the only part I agree with is there are more students with these scores not getting in then are accepted. However, to claim it’s utter nonsense in one breath while then answering it matters in another is typical these days. I have know problems with their process I wouldn’t want my kid in the Ivy’s.

        • Andrew says:

          Well said.

        • Nezdog3 says:

          I think you are missing the point of the Ivy Coach response. I think you would need to know how many of the applicants are in fact white males to justify your assertion. It implies that there is an equal or more white males that apply to the Ivy League schools. Ivy Coach is stating with the make up of the university that males and those who do not identify as white are at a disadvantage. My wife was on the admissions committee of a university that is consistently ranked in the top three by US News for a number of years. Female applicants far outnumber male applicants and total white applicants where the largest ethnic pool. In actuality, white females are disadvantaged relative to males. There is a common view that somehow white males are being punished by the universities and those they admit are significantly underqualified. Really what people should be complaining about are big donor legacy and athletes. The issue is that universities are businesses and the general population think they are something more. My wife’s experience is that most underrepresented groups that are admitted still fall into the bands that make them competitive for admission. People want to believe that there are blacks, hispanics, and students that identify LBGQT that are being admitted with 1300 SATs and 3.8 GPAs. Are there some? There are but a lot fewer than you want to believe. There are far more big donor legacy kids and athletes that are way below the SAT/ACT and GPAs that are the normative ranges each year. Guess what, they are almost all white at the Ivy schools. Two of my kids are at an Ivy League school and my son who is a Freshman was good enough in baseball to be a recruited athlete at “low” D1 schools including 5 of the Ivies. During the recruiting process we were told by all the IVY coaches he only needed a 26 ACT and he would get in. At Duke he needed only a 22/24 ACT. That is equivalent to a low 1200 SAT. When they found out he got a 36 ACT and 1600 SAT it was a feeding frenzy to try to get him to come to their school. Problem was he did not have any interest in playing baseball in college after he did his research and essentially had to commit to playing baseball first and school second even at the Ivy schools. He turned them all down and applied as a regular student applicant. He got in to 3 of the Ivy Universities he applied to and my wife, who has knowledge in this area, said he got in because he was angular in an area of interest. They did not care that he was good at a sport because he did not want to play for a school. Was he “well rounded”? Yes, but he was deep on an area that interested him and that is what he wrote about and what his recommendations pointed out. The same was true for my daughter. My wife and I both have undergraduate degrees from an Ivy school and got in as “well rounded” applicants with high SAT scores. That is not what they are looking for anymore. BTW, my kids say that their peers are brilliant and they do not see any difference in ability with kids from underrepresented groups. Each have said independently that the athletes and big donor kids are generally underwhelming and those kids are mostly white. The US is a wealth stratified society. Big donors and athletics bring money into the schools. Before people flame me, we are white as well.

          • Bob says:


            This is what happens when people start touting falsehoods as ‘fact’. This guys states the acceptance rate for women at the Ivies is lower for them. The latest available Common Data Set, which the Ivies published for the 2021-2022 school year proves the exact opposite of this social justice blowhard:

            Princeton Acceptance Rates:
            Women: 4.6% Accepted
            Men: 4.1% Accepted

            Penn Acceptance Rates:
            Women: 6.7%
            Men: 5.6%

            Cornell Acceptance Rates:
            Women: 8%
            Men: 6.5%

            Ivy Coach has long peddled this lie also. Get the facts and tell the truth!

          • Ivy Coach says:

            We will publish your anti-Semitic and homophobic tirades.

            But we will also correct your facts. At most — though not all — highly selective universities, male applicants are admitted at a higher rate than female applicants. This includes within the Ivy League.

            In the most recent Common Data Set, you’ll note the following admission rates for women vs. men at Harvard, Brown, Dartmouth, Columbia, and Yale, which we noticed you failed to include in your cherry-picked data. If you’re going to share the data for the Ivy League schools, share all of it.

            But we suspect you will instead respond with anti-Semitic and homophobic attacks that say a whole lot more about you than they do about us since the facts aren’t on your side.

            Harvard University:
            Women – 3.95% Admission Rate
            Men – 4.07% Admission Rate

            Brown University:
            Women – 4.06% Admission Rate
            Men – 6.73% Admission Rate

            Dartmouth College:
            Women – 5.82% Admission Rate
            Men – 6.57% Admission Rate

            Columbia University:
            Women – 3.45% Admission Rate
            Men – 4.51% Admission Rate

            Yale University:
            Women – 5.0% Admission Rate
            Men – 5.72% Admission Rate

    • Ryan says:

      Thank you

      • Anon says:

        Who is cherry picking info, Coach?

        Ivy League Gender Distribution by Percentage:

        Class of 2025

        Male/ Female









        6/8 majority female. yale, cornell, female majority by 10%!

        • Ivy Coach says:

          What does this have to do with the price of tea in China? There is no denying there are more female applicants to Ivy League schools than male applicants and, correspondingly, more female students at Ivy League schools. We’ve said as much countless times on the pages of this college admissions blog.

          If one’s argument is that it’s harder to get into Ivy League schools as a male as opposed to a female, then one needs only look at the admission rates based on gender at each Ivy League school.

          For the most recent admissions cycle reported to The Common Data Set, at 5/8 Ivies — the majority — men are admitted at a significantly higher rate than women. We’re not cherry-picking data. 5/8 Ivies means that men were admitted at a higher rate than women at 3 of the Ivies.

          So how exactly is it harder for men to get in than women at most of the Ivies?

  • elizabeth says:

    As usual, you hit the nail on the head Ivy Coach.

  • leslie rene says:

    it’s not abou “ why a college should admit you”, it’s about what you have to give. Maybe if the Track runner, spent a good portion of his time running races for charity and raised a significant amount of money for a cause or said he loves running and wants to use his time and talents to develop prosthetic legs for people that can not walk,
    or uses his experience as a runner to aid marathon runners with disabilities , the applicant would come across as someone who empathizes with others and has some humility. Anyone can get good grades and get good test scores , but very few see the bigger picture

    • Brad says:

      You clearly did not see the part about him being an Eagle Scout

      • Ivy Coach says:

        Comment of the week!

      • Lilah says:

        Brad – EXACTLY! That is no easy feat as it takes years of commitment – I have the highest respect for kids who make Eagle. It’s not “staged” or something a college counselor recommended in middle school. Kids start this process at a very young age, AND it’s NOT easy to complete. You don’t just put in the time, quite the opposite.

    • James L Jones says:

      That is why wealthy families hire coaches who arrange for the student to engage in activities that show he “empathizes with others and has humility” It has been said the most liked trait is sincerity. And when you can fake that you’ve got it made! If the student practically lives in a lower income gym teaching students basketball for free and also studying with them you have a winner.

      But if he attends only to hand over a large check from the family charitable trust you have a faker!

    • Lilah says:

      Leslie Rene – SeriouslY? How many 17 year olds and younger are all about helping the world? That’s the problem with this ENTIRE PROCESS. EVERY KID feels they have to stage their application. Can’t a kid just love a sport and want to excel?

  • R Videla says:

    Disgusted by the writer’s concerns?
    What an obnoxious reply, Ivy Coach, dripping with elitist arrogance and haughty disdain for anyone who still believes that those who work their tails off in High School are actually qualified to be admitted to, and to attend, an Ivy. Highly intelligent, hard-working students who also participate in sports and other extra-curriculars are absolutely qualified, even if they are….god forbid….caucasian, or straight, or from the east coast, or not a bassoonist. You Ivy Elites should reconsider what truly makes a person “qualified.” You’ve twisted the admissions game into a mockery of hard-work in an effort to create a culture of diversificlusion. The long-term ramifications of this game will reap a generation of mediocrity.
    Oh, and Ivy Coach, I’d hazard a guess that you are a childless but oh, so woke millennial who toasts the day no earlier than 9 am with an overpriced latte. When you’ve matured and have the audacity to breed, perhaps you’ll have a slightly less arrogant opinion, watching your progeny’s talents be rejected by someone who you once were. That would be assuming you’d have the ability to produce intelligent and Ivy “qualified” progeny, which is unlikely in itself.

    • Ivy Coach says:

      Thank you so much for writing in! You’re a hoot!

    • James L Jones says:

      Back to my previous comment. Did you R Videlia contribute to the food bank, church or other charity during the past month? If so, tell how that helped both the recipients and you. I have no advice for you if you didn’t.

    • Hyena says:

      Lets call it what it is, many of these writers want the old system back. A system in which if your white you are automatically qualified for an ivy league school. Notice the language and assumption….all non white students are there due to diversity and not hard work. The problem is entitlement. Everyone thinks their child is the best ( i dont fault you for this but is at times not steeped in reality) and the brightest and this is how parents set their children up for failure because guess what? The world is competitive and they arent the only ones in it. Appreciate their smarts but dont foster entitlement because there is always someone smarter.If we were operating on the premise used by these commenters then all the ivy leagues would only have asian students.Because after all”they are the smartest.” Elitist? But these are the same private elitist clubs that you are trying to be a part of. Thats like you thinking just because you made a million your entitled to hang with Buffet and Gates, no you made a million but you are a dime a dozen. Buffet and Gates are 1% so therfore they can afford to be choosy and set the rules of whois in their private club. Imagine how blacks feel when they would qualify or be over qualified and not get oppurtunities based on race. OF course by your logic no miniority ever qualifies. Not so nice is it?

    • lilah says:

      Agree with R Videla!

    • Martin John Pulley says:

      Thank you for displaying a complete understanding of the topic up for discussion, R Videlia. It’s refreshing to finally get some push back, I love your deliberate change of spelling, diversificlusion is priceless!

  • Valerie D. says:

    “You’ve twisted the admissions game into a mockery of hard-work in an effort to create a culture of diversificlusion. The long-term ramifications of this game will reap a generation of mediocrity. ” Wow couldn’t have said it better R Videlia. My son is about (if the two next week come in similarly) to be rejected from every school he wanted and applied. He takes qualified to the extreme, and I understand it’s an extremely competitive process. Mr Ivy, I, in fact, contributed today to gofund me to the Asian lady attacked in NYC, and shop for my church food panty at least monthly (with the son who also volunteers there, cantors, plays bells,etc.). We are hoping one of the two foreign schools takes him. They don’t decide until AFTER the May 1 US decision date however. But yes, after he did everything right, to be rebuffed is demoralizing. He knows he didn’t cure cancer, so his chances were slim. The system needs to throw out legacy, athletes, and just state minimum qualifications, then work on a lottery basis with those that make the minimum qualifications. Also, my son thinks all the tests are too easy, SAT, ACT and all the AP tests. Doesn’t understand why anyone finds them difficult, or why any college would be “test optional” or “test blind”. That is the only valid way to separate the students. Surprisingly, it works quite well in other countries. You work hard, you make the test scores, you are in a the top college. The students don’t waste time playing on their phone, but doing the hard work it takes to succeed. The US admissions game makes a mockery of hard work, as R. Videla said. When you are right, you’re right.

    • amongus says:

      sussy bakaaaaaa

    • Reform School says:

      Separating students by a test like the SAT, Act, or the AP test is the worst way of trying to find the right student. The whole education system in America needs to change and not go to the old way but improve differently. Just because a kid doesn’t score well on a test doesn’t mean that the kid is dumb everyone learns different and there are some intelligent students I know who just cant do well on tests. If you think standardized testing and being competitive and working hard works to make a student good. No a student can work as hard as they can but still fail. If you don’t believe me look at Finland’s education system, They are the best in the world. What’s the difference between U.S. and Finland – later school starts, no standardized testing, high wages for teachers, less average time spent in school that’s just a few key differences. If Finland can called with the best education system in the world, why don’t we follow and adopt some of there plans to fix our education system? look at the PISA results if you don’t believe.

    • Martin John Pulley says:

      Well said…

    • Jolanta says:

      The same happens to my nephew , perfect SAT score, perfect GPA, sports, charities, community service and so on..My sister has pulled all available resources to sent him to upscale private HS ( mistake, mistake). Now, he is already deferred or on the wait list of five colleges he has applied for. Is not just ivy, other schools follow the same path
      . To be clear, my family and I are first generation emigrants from the communist, at that time, country. We didn’t come with money but we work hard to make the future of our kids better. That much for the white privilege!!
      Just the thought, if the kids like my nephew are not accepted, then who is?

  • Andrew says:

    Well out son is white and he was rejected by a top 20 school while others less academically qualified in his class were accepted. (they were not white and not Asian) I don’t have a problem with schools taking less qualified students based on their race. That is up to the school. But applicants do get rejected because they are white or Asian. To suggest otherwise, as this column does, is simply a denial or deception.

    • Martin John Pulley says:

      Minorities don’t like it when the script is flipped. If a black student scored well above average on his or her standardized testing, was a good athlete, contributed time to charitable organizations and were denied admission, boy, wouldn’t there be an uproar! Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the ACLU and the local chapter of the NAACP would be close to trading blows to grab a microphone and make sure they looked good on television. Tell me I’m wrong. When something happens with a white person and a black person the race card is the very first thing to help build a soapbox. Our society has gone completely off the deep end when it comes to being inclusive and that premise holds true on college admissions as well. It doesn’t feel too good when a white family finally stands up and is not afraid to say they are white and part of an injustice.

      • Karen says:

        Your true colors are showing. No school owes ANYONE admission. A high number of very “qualified” students apply to a very few select schools every year. Which in turn have only a very few slots for said students. And each school determines for each year how they want to fill out their incoming class. As has been pointed out several times, Dean Lists, Donors, Legacy, and Athletes are generally the ones who are accepted who do not always have the same level of GPAs and test scores as other applicants. They do however have some things the schools are interested in. It is absurd to think that “top tier” schools are admitting mass amounts of students who fall far far below the school’s normally accepted thresholds. Most schools are not interested in setting students up to fail; they are also not interested in having their graduation rates decline, or in having high numbers of students transfer away to another school. I know it is hard for you and your ilk to believe, but there are actually intelligent minorities who are just as “qualified” and have the right to a good education; including one at a “top tier” school.

  • Ryan says:

    R Videla, I would just like to say, thank you.

  • Diversificlusion says:

    General consensus here to the title of the post is… ‘Yes, he probably did.’

  • Barbarella says:

    Who are the real racists in the Ivy League? Jews are vastly over-represented by proportion of population and vastly over-represented over far better qualified non-Jewish students. Their over-representation at Harvard and in the Ivy League is not only incredibly disproportionate against European American students, but also wildly disproportionate against every other racial group in America. Jews are almost 47 times more represented than their population would merit. That’s four thousand seven hundred percent over-represented in comparison with the actual population of Jews and European Americans. Who formed every Ivy League school? The same demographic you now want excluded and label as racist: Straight White Christian Males. Well without all those anti-semitic racists like Yale and Harvard, you would have no school to attend. Maybe you should start your own university, called ‘We would be nothing without all those racists University’. ‘Racism’ is a great industry to profit off of. Ask Al Sharpton or Ivy Coach. Losers!

  • Menachin says:

    LOL. You see folks, if you are white, you already start your life having to apologise for your racism, according to Coach. Even if you allege racism, as R Videla did, you are actually racist yourself. So you can’t win so don’t try to. No non-white person is racist. They are genetically anti-racist and therefor perfect. I have never known a hate crime perpetrated by anyone but a white person so it must be true. Thank you for this, Ivy Coach. You are truly public servants for pointing this out. And also they pointed out that all readers of their blog are racist and most likely most of their customers. They disdain most people, in general, but they are justified in their disdain.

  • Habib says:

    If you are wondering why Ivy Coach hold’s their distorted point of view, let’s examine who Ivy Coach is (at least the writer of the blog). He is a New Yorker, Jewish, Homosexual, and a supporter of Lia Thomas and George Soros. The Old Testament states, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable” (Leviticus 18:22 and Chapter 20, Verse 13). The New Testament agrees, listing “homosexual offenders” among a list of people who “will not inherit the kingdom of God” unless they are cleansed through Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Try this: read the New Testament. It is the half of the Bible Jews ignore but the only one which brings salvation.

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