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Subject: In The New World of Admissions, Athletes Are The Canary in The Coal Mine

An Observer
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Date Posted: 11:56:28 09/19/18 Wed
In reply to: Touchdown Brown 's message, "Re: The Draw of City Living for Young People" on 10:02:14 09/19/18 Wed

Touchdown Brown makes a great point. The admission rates at all eight Ivies have gotten so low that it changes the calculus of high school students and how they apply to colleges.

Back in the day, a highly qualified applicant could reasonably expect to apply to several elite universities and get into many of them, if not most of them. Now the ultra-low nominal acceptance rates have changed that expectation.

The Harvard Crimson does a survey of incoming freshman every fall. 16% of respondents said that they are attending Harvard only because they did not gain admission to their first choice college. That's eye-opening, in my opinion.

(Furthermore, 16% is the self-reported number, after accounting for sample bias in the survey and faulty memories. It's like how, a decade later, 90% of respondents say that they voted for JFK even though, in reality, Kennedy only defeated Nixon by the slimmest of margins, potentially helped by some extra votes in Chicago. If 16% of Harvard students say that it was not their first choice school, the reality is probably that 20%+ actually wanted to go elsewhere.)

Given these exceptionally low admission rates in the single digits, now you've got to think harder about how high school students express their preferences.

First, I would look at early application figures because, in the new reality, kids tangibly show their preferences not after they have their admission letters in hand come March of their senior years, but rather in November when most of them are strategically applying early to one school, which may not even be their "first" choice but "first realistic choice where I should put my EA or ED chips strategically."

Second, I would look at underrepresented minorities and athletes. These are the only two groups who still have the luxury of CHOOSING between colleges vying for their matriculation. These are the only applicants who still hold really strong hands in the game.

Again, I find it troubling that, among the applicants who have the MOST CHOICE, traditionally it's been Princeton and Harvard who dominate and now Yale might be drifting up into third place behind P and H. I'm not talking about any individual sport in particular, but rather all sports together.

If the coaches at the other five Ivies report that it's getting harder to compete against HYP, that is meaningful. But I don't know that they feel that way. In which case, as Touchdown Brown suggests, maybe it's less of a big deal.

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