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  • Writer's pictureBeth & Tim Manners

What Does The Ivy League Really Want?

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

The Washington Post: “Because of the impressive SAT scores and high grades of students admitted to Ivy League institutions, many people incorrectly infer that superhuman academic performance is the key ingredient for admission. ‘Grades are still the most important factor in admissions,’ the founder of one consulting firm told USA Today. ‘Course rigor is also extremely important’ … In reality, academic strength is just one of several dimensions by which candidates are ranked, including extracurriculars, athletics and the enigmatic ‘personal’ ranking.”

“Savvy parents and applicants are well aware that the Ivy League values athletic talent. But it is often listed as just one ‘hook’ among many others, including legacy status, membership in a historically underrepresented minority group and socioeconomic disadvantage. Asked in 2012 about the magnitude of athletics, a former dean of admissions at Princeton said that ‘we do not emphasize one activity over the other; athletes as well as artistic endeavors are equally valued.’ She went on to specifically mention ‘musicians, dancers or actors’ as groups receiving recognition. But athletes are a special case and are given vastly more preference than other recognized categories.”

“A number of studies have shown that Ivy League graduates are vastly overrepresented in positions of corporate and political leadership: Almost a third of officers and directors in the corporate elite earned undergraduate degrees from elite schools. But overrepresentation is far from dominance. In a comprehensive 2017 study of ‘3,990 senior executives drawn from 15 sectors, including government,’ researchers at the University of California at Riverside found that barely 10 percent attended Ivy League colleges. Ivy League graduates were most represented in industries involving media, including publishing, journalism and the arts — but even there, they were a decided minority.”

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