The Ivy Coach Daily

October 21, 2014

Height and Ivy League Admission

One editorialist in “The Seattle Times” believes height matters quite a bit in Ivy League admission. Our response?: Oy vey.

We came across an editorial in “The Seattle Times” written by a co-founder of a company that “focuses on college counseling” that we figured we’d bring to the attention of our loyal reader-base. The piece is entitled “For elite college admission, become an athlete.” The title in and of itself is already a red flag for us as a student certainly doesn’t need to be an elite athlete to gain admission to highly selective colleges — like the Ivy League colleges. The fact that someone who professes to be a college counselor would even suggest such a notion is preposterous and his reasoning is even more cockamamie. That’s right. Cockamamie.

We’re not even sure we completely follow the editorialist’s logic that height matters a whole lot more than you’d think in highly selective college admissions but here it is in his own words: “The admissions rates at some of these highly selective schools are as low as the single digits, with Harvard and Stanford leading the way in accepting only 6 percent of their applicants. The credentials of the incoming freshman classes are remarkable, but perhaps even more astonishing are the kids who don’t get in, such as valedictorians and candidates with perfect SAT scores. Why then is physical stature relevant? The answer is hiding in plain sight, as a careful analysis will show.”

“The U.S. Census Bureau surveys the distribution of the population by height, and does not report information beyond 6 feet 6 inches tall. According to the census, 100 percent of the population, rounded to the nearest full percentage point, is shorter than an NBA small forward. Yet the Ivy League schools routinely field basketball teams with toweringly tall players. Harvard had nine members last year on their men’s basketball team above 6 feet 6 inches tall. Yale had seven, as did Columbia. Assuming that brainpower is evenly distributed by height, then the odds someone would be both uncommonly tall and in the top 1 percent as measured by traditional scholastic criteria are astronomical, about as unlikely as Mick Jagger retiring.”

We think we may have become temporarily stupider for having read such a ridiculous argument grounded in nonsensical logic. Are there a select set of talented basketball players who are 6’6 who gain admission to Ivy League colleges because of their height and basketball prowess (or promise of prowess)? Indeed. But it’s a small set. Basketball recruits make up a very small portion of an incoming class at Ivy League colleges — and at just about every college for that matter. Perhaps the editorialist isn’t very good at what he professes to do and so he’s come up with the excuse that the answer to getting into the Ivies is to be tall? It’s all we can come up with to try to understand his logic. Or lack of logic rather.

It’s possible we just don’t have a clue what the editorialist is writing about because his argument is meandering. If we’re off base, please clarify the point this gentleman is trying to convey. We’re big basketball fans at Ivy Coach and, nonetheless, we’re at a total loss.

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