Mosaic Admissions

Archive for January, 2011

Application Tallies

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Today The New York Times published application tallies for more than 100 colleges, including the nation’s most elite. Case Western Reserve University experienced the most significant surge relative to last year, with 44.51% more freshman applications for the Class of 2015 (wow!). One of my favorite liberal arts colleges, Macalester College, is also particularly appealing to high school seniors, as evidenced by the 40.63% increase in applications.  Tulane University wasn’t as fortunate – applications dipped 13.36% – while applications to SUNY Stony Brook declined 11.91%. 

Check out the complete list by clicking on the link below:

The Legacy Advantage

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Here’s an interesting article from today’s on-line edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education about the impact of legacy status on college admissions.  Michael Hurwitz, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, studied the impact of legacy status at 30 elite U.S. colleges and found that legacy applicants gained a 23.3-percentage point increase in their probability of admission.  If an applicant was a “primary legacy” (his/her parent attended the college) the increase was 45.1-percentage points.  In other words, if a non-legacy applicant’s chance of gaining admission to a college is 15 percent, an identical applicant who is a primary legacy will have a 60 percent chance of getting in.  That’s clearly a significant advantage!

We all know that legacy status plays a role in college admissions, particularly among the most selective schools.  For example, 13% of Princeton’s current freshman class is comprised of legacies.  There are reasons for legacy preference, although one may not be what you probably assume – that alumni whose offspring are given the “golden ticket” into a college tend to reward their alma mater with generous financial contributions.  In fact, studies have found no correlation between legacy admission and alumni contributions.  Legacy status is a way that admissions officers can differentiate between two applicants who are highly qualified and primarily equal in merit.  It’s a way that colleges can perpetuate their “family,” and give back to former students.  Although I yearn for a system that judges applicants on purely meritocratic criteria, the reality is that applicants of different types – athletes, minorities, legacies, international applicants – are typically evaluated differently.

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