A Myth of Ivy League Admission

Ivy League Myth, Myth of Ivy League, Ivy League Admissions Myth

Ivy League admission isn’t random (photo credit: Eustress).

One of the objectives of our college admissions blog is to demystify the highly selective college admissions process. And, to do so, one of our day-to-day tasks on this blog is debunking misconceptions. Like how highly selective colleges seek well-rounded students or how there are quotas for Asian American applicants (there aren’t quotas, though Asian Americans do face discrimination in the process). You get the idea. So let’s debunk today, once and for all (ok, we’ll probably do it many more times on our blog, we’ll own that!), a myth of Ivy League admission.

Today, we came across an article posted on “Business Insider” by Abby Jackson entitled “A former Ivy League admissions interviewer says getting rejected from a college should feel like being turned down on a dating app” that gives voice to someone with a wholly incorrect perception of the admissions process. And that’s unfortunate because there are high schoolers and their parents reading these kinds of articles and presenting inaccurate information only adds to their stress and confusion. It should first be noted that an “Ivy League admissions interviewer” is just an alum of a school that interviews for their school. They haven’t received intensive training from the admissions office. They were likely sent an email that included guidelines of what types of questions they should ask, where they should hold their interviews (typically coffee shops), etc. And a big part — a big part — of the function of alumni interviews is to make alumni feel like they have a voice in deciding who and who doesn’t get to go to their alma mater. After all, alumni donate. It’s called appeasement.

The lottery is random. Ivy League admission isn’t.

According to the piece up on “Business Insider,” “[Ben] Orlin explains that he feels uncomfortable about having a role in an admissions process that he says is random, opaque, and soul-crushing for students. ‘Rejection by a university ought to feel like getting swiped left on Tinder,’ he wrote. ‘There’s nothing terribly personal about it. The admissions office doesn’t really know you. The university is just looking out for its own interests, and you don’t happen to fit into the picture.’ Instead, however, Orlin likens the experience to getting dumped at the alter. Students devote months of their lives to the process, visit the campus, provide letters from teachers, send all of their test scores, and have an alumni interview.” While we don’t disagree with the notion that college admissions is more of a courtship than is Tinder, Ivy League admission isn’t random and any suggestion of such is flat out incorrect (read the piece linked in this sentence to get a sense of just how not random the process is).

The piece goes on, “He does offer up a solution, however unrealistic it may seem. Orlin suggests that Ivy League admission decisions should be chosen by lottery, and have base requirements that students must meet before applying in the first place.” We actually don’t disagree with the notion that students should have to meet some base requirements before applying. This would discourage schools from marketing to students who have no shot whatsoever of getting in (but they’re marketing them to boost their number of applicants, lower their admission rate, and ultimately improve their “US News & World Report” ranking). And it would discourage unrealistic expectations. A swipe left before the student gets too invested, in Tinder terminology.

But enough about Tinder. How many good, enduring relationships are born on Tinder anyway? Our guess is not too many. Let’s get back to it. There are some things in life that are random. Ivy League admission just isn’t one of them.


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