Brian Taylor, Director of Ivy Coach, is quoted in today’s “Daily Pennsylvanian,” the newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania, in an article by Caroline Simon entitled “It’s who you know: Connections may play a role in Penn admissions.” The piece of course focuses on the role that high level connections can play in helping students gain admission to highly selective colleges such as the University of Pennsylvania. We have long asserted that letters from senators and state legislators to any institution (other than to our nation’s military academies) can do more harm than good unless that politician 1.) has a strong connection to the university and/or 2.) this person actually knows the applicant (it’s not just daddy’s friend). In many instances, these letters can be quite powerful, but simply getting a letter from a senator who doesn’t know your kid — that’s not going to do it. The letter must contribute to the narrative of the application.
As Brian is quoted in the piece on connections in admission, “Brian Taylor, director of Ivy Coach, a New York-based college admissions consulting firm, believes that the advantage of connections in the admissions process is not unique to UT Austin. ‘It absolutely happens at every school across America,’ Taylor said. ‘That’s how the world works.’ The Kroll report offered suggestions for UT Austin to make its admissions process fairer. UT Austin Chancellor William McRaven said he will convene a committee to analyze the report’s recommendations. Although the Kroll investigation was undertaken because UT Austin’s policies were seen as discriminatory, Taylor said that this trend is not necessarily unfair — it simply allows applicants to add one more dimension to their application. ‘We’ve had students with terrible grades, terrible test scores who have gotten in because of the way they tell their story. And one of the ways in which they tell their story is a letter like that,’ Taylor said.” We sure have.
Penn’s always candid Dean of Admissions Eric Furda even echoed this sentiment when he says, as quoted in the piece, “I think all of us would be naive to say that there isn’t politics or interest involved in anything that takes place. You want to keep your ears open to those people who are closest to your institution.” It would have been easy for Eric Furda to say connections play no role in admissions decisions. But he was honest. We at Ivy Coach applaud his honesty and openness.