Spring is naturally an exciting time period for all college applicants as their future plans are decided based on a single application. Yet, as campus admissions offices utilize their authority to dictate whether or not a student gets admitted into their institution, receiving a rejection letter seems to be more than just an unfortunate circumstance. There are standards based on SAT scores and GPA’s, however, there is a bias “X” factor that can detriment a students chances at admission. These factors are often disregarded, as they are not visible or measured by the public. Yet, as elite students continue to score in the highest percentiles, less talented students receive admission over them and simply justify it as a lucky circumstance. Understanding that college attendance directly correlates to more prosperous future, students are stunted with uncontrollable dictations especially when it comes to top universities, especially within the Ivy League. The Ivy League admissions process is discriminatory and ceases opportunities to all qualified students.
According to the 2013 Ivy League Admission Statistics, there were a total of 22,939 applicants for the fall semester and the University of Pennsylvania. Out of those applicants, only 11% were given admission. Understanding the circumstances, it is evident that Penn is one of the World’s most competitive universities. However, within that “elite” 11%, Ivy Coach Statistics discusses the process of the “Legacy Applicant” which means the applicant has relatives who attended the university. With the total school’s population, almost 20% of the entire school is made up of those legacy students. That means that although the admissions statistics claim that 11% of the school’s applicants receive admission, only 8% of non-legacy students are eligible for admission. Considering education is a pipeline to future success, Penn limits the opportunity for students to do so.

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A recently taken study with a sample size of 30 highly top tier colleges conducted by a Harvard University researcher identified that legacy applicants–students who have a direct family relationship at one of the Ivy schools have a significant breaking edge regarding admission. According to the study which was led by Michael Hurwitz, who is a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, exposed that applicants to a parent’s alma mater had, on average, seven times the chances of admission of non-legacy students. By association, students whose parents happen to graduate provide services, or who had a close relative such as a grandparent, brother or sister, uncle or aunt who attended the school were more than twice as likely to receive an acceptance letter. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, students legacy applicant status with all other aspects being equivalent, had close to a 25 percentage point increase in their chances of admission compared to the students applicants with non legacy status. Primary legacies, who are applicants with a direct parent who attended that same college as an undergraduate student, had an astounding 45 percent benefit. In other words, if a student who has non-legacy status faced a small 15 percent chance of acceptance, a primary legacy student with completely equal credentials would have close to a 60 percent chance of getting accepted. Legacy preferences are an unfair edge because prestigious universities use them only when it benefits their institutional interests, which for the most part, is revenue. They will be utilized to help the children of prosperous alumni, who are then expected to increase their yearly contributions to their alma mater and lastly, give back o the school.

Another demographic that the Ivy League schools limit their accessibility to are Asian applicants. Asians are commonly set back as other races are given preference for admission despite academic standing. A 2004 study by Thomas Espenshade, Chang Y. Chung, and Joan L. Walling, present-day and previous partners of the sociology department at Princeton University, claims, “The bonus for African-American applicants is roughly equivalent to an extra 230 SAT points (on a 1600-point scale), to 185 points for Hispanics, 200 points for athletes, and 160 points for the legacy children of alumni. The Asian disadvantage is comparable to a loss of 50 SAT points.” Without even applying, Asian students are set behind any other minority applicant. The data reveals that Asians are discriminated in the prestigious college admissions process. But 50 SAT points is an unpolished underestimation. Students from Asian decent need so achieve around flawless SAT scores to be admitted to an Ivy League because those universities already have an applicant section of Asian American and Asian students who actually have flawless or near-perfect scores. By selecting these applicants Ivy League Universities have the opportunity to increase their average SAT scores and their overall ranking in the world spotlight.

At Princeton University, 27,290 students applied to be part of the graduating class of 2019. Of those students, only 7.1 percent, which is slightly less than 2,000 people, received admission for the fall semester. The school under 15 percent of students who fell within one hundred points of the highest score on the SAT, while 90 percent of students with a perfect grade point average were denied admission, according to the 2015 admission statistics. Asian Americans make up to approximately 5 percent of the United States total population, but have an even smaller presence on the few Ivy League institutions. This year at Princeton University, the freshman class is around 22 percent Asian decent and it is roughly the same amount at Harvard University. It is seen that Asian-American students are underrepresented when evaluated on their accolades. Asian-American students as a whole overtake their fellow students of any background on overall tests scores, grade point averages, and tend earn many prestigious academic awards and competitions. The groups also have taken surveys showing that California academic institutions with race-blind admissions have significantly more Asian students at Ivy League universities.

Knowing that college applications are a major part for a high school students academic career, it is clear that acceptance letters should be available for all fitting students. Given that the Ivy League is know as the top schooling chain in the world, students who have the accolades to attend them, should. However, despite a perfect grade point average, flawless SAT scores, and extraordinary extracurricular activity participation, students who are a good fit tend to not get admitted. The Ivy League is a closed group with very little access to applying students. However, although the competition to get in is high, the keys to the doors are custom to fit a small percentile of students. This small percentile does not completely consist of elite students, but students who are uncontrollably privileged, making other students chances at admission impossible.

  • Mandery, Evan J. “End College Legacy Preferences.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 24 Apr. 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.
  • “Ivy League Legacy Admission | Ivy Coach.” The Ivy Coach. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.
  • Taylor, Bev. “Asian Americans Deserve Better in Ivy League Admissions.”The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.
  • Jacobs, Peter. “Former Ivy League Admissions Dean Reveals Why Highly Qualified Asian-American Students Often Get Rejected.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 10 June 2015. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.