IvyGate’s Guide to Admissions: Part I
Lately, the cavalcade of admissions soothsayers seems to stretch from high school guidance counselor’s offices all the way to the bank—not to mention a stopover at the open palms of admissions coaches. Neither here nor there, the secret to getting in exists. Just ask anyone who can be identified as a “Former admissions officer, Ivy League college.” A recent flurry of clues on how to get in and how not to get in gave so much credit to said anonymous sources that we decided to do a little multi-part series on Ivy admissions.
As an introduction we’ve picked out some of the more salient comments from the Daily Beast‘s recent treatment of the elite admissions game. Appropriately enough, the prophets holding the keys to the Ivory Tower tend to be the half-jaded, wholly-enlightened ones who write those books with clever titles that pun on the letter “A.” (Oddly enough, a lot of the authors seems to have worked in Dartmouth’s admissions office.) These guys have some interesting—and some offending—things to say. But in the long run we’ll be bringing out some dirty truths from the students who do get in.
The low-down from a current Ivy League officer (probably from Dartmouth based on the aforementioned trend in admissions book publishing)—via Daily Beast:
An admissions officer is really asking himself, ‘Would I like to hang out with this guy or gal for the next four years?’ So if you come off as just another Asian math genius with no personality, then it’s going to be tough for you. An admissions officer is not going to push very hard for you.”
Ok, that’s racist. Asian math geniuses are actually as fun as white, brown, or black math geniuses after a couple of drinks. To be real, a lot of smart people are a lot more fun if you’re smart enough to keep up with them. Read more upsetting truths about why you did (or didn’t) get in after the jump.
Evidently the best way to avoid tacit discrimination is to become your admissions officer. According Joie Jager-Hyman, a real former Dartmouth admissions officer, the real way to get in is to figure out and then mimic your application reader:
People tend to like people like themselves. I could almost predict the application files my colleagues would support: this admissions officer likes the athletes; this one prefers the quiet, creative loner type; one person cared a lot about SATs; or another would be more likely to excuse things like teenage arrests than other colleagues.”
Yes! So recruit help of Facebook and some fake calls to 86 Brattle Street (or 38 Hillhouse Ave or 1 Nassau Hall or whatever) and update those application essays Class of ’13 hopefuls! Actually, it’s just a few days too late for you. All next year’s freshman class can do is sit back and wait for the fates. In the meantime, pass these lessons onto younger, luckier siblings who can choose their SAT scores.
One admissions officer from a “state university in the Northeast” (read: U Penn or is it UPENN?) tells the truth:
[T]here are still some factors out of an applicant’s hands. One night, I got food poisoning at a restaurant in Buffalo. The next day, I rejected all the Buffalo applications. I couldn’t stomach reading them.”
So who out there is a food poisoning reject? And who’s the reason everyone hates the Ivy League, according to a former Ivy League admissions officer?
Of course there are files every year that the dean simply says aren’t debatable. It’s pretty easy to Google those kids and see Daddy is a U.S. Senator or gave the university $7 million. But it really takes paying for a building or endowing a chair to have that kind of privilege. Only about 70 percent of the other VIP kids get in, because it can be equally embarrassing if some big celebrity’s son fails out or gets arrested on campus. There have to be some standards.”
To be honest, we’re not sure those standards actually work. Over the next couple of weeks, IvyGate will unveil a handful of horrors and maybe—seriously just maybe—any glimmer of integrity left in this whole twisted process.
Hit up email@example.com if you’ve got a dirty secret about admissions. Total anonymity and no judgments, we promise—we’re looking for tales from those who beat the system and a few who died trying. Even if you didn’t personally do it, you definitely know someone who did.