The College-Admissions Frenzy


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Against this backdrop, the article explains who does get in to Harvard, and how. In the process it delves into the bureaucratese of the admissions game, the terms of trade Harvard uses—“dockets,” “the lop list,” “tips,” “DE,” the “Z-list”—to construct an undergraduate demographic that fits its vision of diversity, in which perfect SATs are far from the be-all and end-all. Those “dockets” refer to two dozen geographical regions Harvard divides the United States into, giving priority to, say, North Dakota, where applicants are rare, over, say, New York, where they abound. After that, admissions officers rate applications in five categories—academic, extracurricular, athletic, personal, and “overall”—then supply “tip” factors in five more: racial and ethnic minorities; the children of Harvard grads; relatives of a significant donor; children of faculty members; and recruited athletes. At the close of the process, the final list has some students “lopped” off, as the new class is aligned with diversity goals.

The complete article

Rand Richards Cooper — Commonweal

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