Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Only 57% Of White Students At Harvard Are Admitted On Merit

The Guardian, Turns Out, Harvard Students Aren’t That Smart After All:

A whopping 43% of white students weren’t admitted on merit. One might call it affirmative action for the rich and privileged.

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. ...

This kind of systemic favoritism of the white, wealthy and connected is not new when it comes to elite academic institutions. It’s always been a bit of a rigged game, one that overwhelmingly favors rich white people.

Peter Arcidiacono (Duke; Google Scholar), Josh Kinsler (Georgia; Google Scholar) & Tyler Ransom (Oklahoma; Google Scholar), Legacy and Athlete Preferences at Harvard, 40 J. Labor Econ. ___ (2022):

The lawsuit Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard University provided an unprecedented look at how an elite school makes admissions decisions. Using publicly released reports, we examine the preferences Harvard gives for recruited athletes, legacies, those on the dean’s interest list, and children of faculty and staff (ALDCs). Among white admits, over 43% are ALDC.

Among admits who are African American, Asian American, and Hispanic, the share is less than 16% each. Our model of admissions shows that roughly three quarters of white ALDC admits would have been rejected if they had been treated as white non-ALDCs. Removing preferences for athletes and legacies would significantly alter the racial distribution of admitted students, with the share of white admits falling and all other groups rising or remaining unchanged.

Harvard 1

Harvard 2

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