The Ivy Coach Daily

November 25, 2021

ALDCs at Harvard

Many of Harvard’s white students are recruited athletes, legacies, development cases, and/or children of faculty/staff (photo credit: Chensiyuan).

Would it surprise you that 43% of white students at Harvard University fit neatly into one of the following categories?: recruited athletes, legacies, development cases (a.k.a. Dean’s Interest List), and/or children of faculty/staff? If you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, it likely doesn’t surprise you one bit. After all, we’ve detailed extensively through the years how the majority of legacy applicants to our nation’s highly selective universities are white — though this pool has been growing more diverse through the years as the children of underrepresented alumni come of college age. We’ve also detailed extensively how the majority of recruited athletes at these institutions, to the surprise of many, are white. Surprisingly enough, sports like squash, water polo, swimming, equestrian, field hockey, lacrosse, and golf just don’t attract many underrepresented minority applicants. And it’s likely not too big of a surprise that the majority of donors to these institutions are white. The rich alumni’s children have a leg up in the admissions process, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy rooted in privilege.

As Taya Bero writes for The Guardian in a piece entitled “Turns out, Harvard students aren’t that smart after all,” “Ever wondered what it takes to get into Harvard? Stellar grades, impressive extracurriculars and based on a recently published study, having deep pockets and a parent who either works or went there. Those last two are pretty important for Harvard’s white students because only about 57% of them were admitted to the school based on merit. In reality, 43% of Harvard’s white students are either recruited athletes, legacy students, on the dean’s interest list (meaning their parents have donated to the school) or children of faculty and staff (students admitted based on these criteria are referred to as ’ALDCs’, which stands for ’athletes’, ’legacies’, ’dean’s interest list’ and ’children’ of Harvard employees). The kicker? Roughly three-quarters of these applicants would have been rejected if it weren’t for having rich or Harvard-connected parents or being an athlete.”

How can Harvard address what would appears to many to be a systemic flaw in its admissions process? Is it doing away with legacy admission? Eliminating recruiting slots for sports like squash and golf? Not offering advantage to the children of faculty and staff? Let us know your thoughts on the subject by posting a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!

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