Sunday, March 17, 2019

Daniel Golden

Daniel Golden is the author of the 2006 book The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges—and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates.

From his interview with Isaac Chotiner for The New Yorker:

Colleges obviously still rely a lot on legacy admissions. Are they relying on it less than a decade or two ago, and might this lessening be causing legacy admissions or the rich and famous to be more desperate to get their kids in by any means necessary?

Actually, regarding legacy admissions, what’s happened in the last couple decades is two contrasting things. The first is that, yes, the percentage of legacies admitted has declined. It’s less of a guarantee of admission than it used to be. On the other hand, the over-all acceptance rate at these élite schools has declined even more. So legacy, proportionally, is a bigger advantage than it once was. If you take a typical Ivy League school, maybe twenty or thirty years ago, they might admit two-thirds of legacy applicants. Now they might admit one-third of legacy applicants. But, at the same time, their over-all acceptance rate has probably gone down from between twenty and twenty-five per cent to between five and ten per cent. So, proportionally, being a legacy is even more of an advantage. But, in any particular case, a legacy is less likely to get in than they used to.

Now, the pressures over all are generally working a little bit the other way. They are working for the benefit of donors rather than to their detriment. What’s happened is that other sources of income for universities have stayed level or declined. The percentage of small, grassroots donors—alumni who give a little bit—has declined, and universities are more dependent on big donations, the kind that often carry a kind of admissions tit for tat. Similarly, there hasn’t been big growth in terms of federal funding for research and other sources of income for universities. So universities are actually more dependent on...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue