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  • #31
    "At elite colleges, athletic recruitment is arguably another form of affirmative action for the wealthy. As my colleague Saahil Desai has written, Harvard’s admissions office, for instance, gives a major boost to athletes with middling academic qualifications. Athletes who score a four (out of six) on the academic scale Harvard uses to judge applicants were accepted at a rate of about 70 percent, Desai reported; the admit rate for nonathletes with the same score was 0.076 percent. And research suggests that these athletic recruits tend to come from middle-class white families. Julie J. Park, an education professor at the University of Maryland, concludes in her 2018 book, Race on Campus: Debunking Myths With Data, that as many as 40 percent of Harvard’s white students are legacies or recruited athletes."

    https://www.theatlantic.com/educatio...arents/584695/

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    • #32
      Harvard Prof. Alan Dershowitz is calling this the greatest scandal in higher education in the history of the country. We report, you decide.

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      • #33
        Shouldn't be shocking to anyone that athletes get preference at major colleges or that many of those given preference are from white middle-class families. Given the range of NCAA teams (from fencing to beach volleyball to tennis to golf to aquatic sports) the percentage of white, upper class participants would seem to be fairly large. Just not in the money sports!

        The reality of preference for athletes is more immoral in my view, though it has been in place for at least a century so it is tough to define as a "scandal", more like a long, non-sensical tradition that should have never begun but is now written in stone.

        Having been a reader in a major university admissions process I know for a fact that an applicant claiming high level athletic success shoots up toward the top of the class. And that admissions departments generally take claims at face value without vetting the resume items. Not enough time or resources to actually investigate each of the hundred thousand plus applications that flood the big name colleges.
        Last edited by jc203; 03-13-2019, 04:58 AM.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by jc203 View Post
          Having been a reader in a major university admissions process I know for a fact that an applicant claiming high level athletic success shoots up toward the top of the class. And that admissions departments generally take claims at face value without vetting the resume items.
          I'm a little surprised by that. It had been my impression that the admissions athletes got preferential treatment only at the request of the coaches, who would prioritize those requests based on their knowledge of the athletes' achievements and also their teams' needs. I can't imagine how someone who had never pole vaulted could be considered by admissions to be a pole vaulter. And it boggles to think that a coach would make recommendations based on his/her personally being paid off by a parent. That should be a firing offense.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by tandfman View Post
            I'm a little surprised by that. It had been my impression that the admissions athletes got preferential treatment only at the request of the coaches, who would prioritize those requests based on their knowledge of the athletes' achievements and also their teams' needs. I can't imagine how someone who had never pole vaulted could be considered by admissions to be a pole vaulter. And it boggles to think that a coach would make recommendations based on his/her personally being paid off by a parent. That should be a firing offense.
            I'm pretty sure all these coaches who were on the take will be fired and never heard from again. It doesn't surprise me that the admissions office would take an applicant's athletic achievements at face value since the coach would be in a much better position to vet the legitimacy of those achievements than some administrator, but that assumes that the coach's #1 priority is to field the best team he/she can. That's the rationale behind giving coaches bonuses based on how well their teams perform during the season.
            Last edited by jazzcyclist; 03-13-2019, 01:57 PM.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by Atticus View Post
              Oh dear is right. The standards are at 14' - hardly elite - and the technique is far from elite.
              The pole vault picture is on the front page of the Wall Street Journal this morning - above the fold.

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              • #37
                Hm-m-m-m. When was the last time a picture of a pole vaulter appeared in the Wall Street Journal?

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                • #38
                  Based on the standard, I suspect that pole vault photo was taken at the University of Texas.

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                  • #39
                    The utility of doctored photos is puzzling to me. I'm not familiar with any protocol that calls for pictures of kids performing any element of the admissions process.

                    As for coach influence, in my experience coaches apparently could act independently to earmark specific applicants that they wanted to recruit, but that did not mean they were going to receive scholarship $ or be guaranteed a spot on the roster. So that influence did not necessarily affect the team.

                    On the other hand, I was among a hundred or so seasonal employees whose job was to assess kids' essays and resumes. We were to evaluate challenges in life that students had either sought or overcome and exceptional personal accomplishments or backgrounds (such as community service, campus leadership, foreign travel/second language mastery, and success in competitive fields... everything from music competitions to speech tourneys to cheerleading contests AND athletic accomplishments).

                    We were required to use a complex rubric to rate applicants on a numeric scale from 1 to 9. 1 = No Way and 9 = Over the Top Exceptional. In the scheme of things a student with strong grades (3.5 to 4.0 gpa) and strong but not extraordinary test scores along with active campus and community participation would get a #4 ranking. But the same record with a a district or state sports championship would be at least s #6, and national recognition would earn a probable #7. That was without coaching influence or even the intention to compete at the college level, but was seen as a measure of the student's determination, work ethic and ability to overcome challenges.

                    AND, we were to take kids at their word... specifically instructed NOT to google applicants whose resumes seemed over the top. Although I cheated on that at least once with a student who claimed to have taken 16 AP exams (scoring perfect 5's on 12 and 4's on the others)... turned out to be California's outstanding science student for that year.

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                    • #40
                      Very interesting post, jc203. I don't know quite what to make of the fact that applicants were given credit for "exceptional personal accomplishments or backgrounds (such as community service, campus leadership, foreign travel/second language mastery, and success in competitive fields... everything from music competitions to speech tourneys to cheerleading contests AND athletic accomplishments)" without anyone verifying that they actually had those accomplishments or backgrounds. Does every serious applicant get interviewed as part of the process? If so, I suppose the interviewers could form some views about the credibility of the claims. But if not, I'd suggest that the whole process is flawed.

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by jc203 View Post
                        The reality of preference for athletes is more immoral in my view, though it has been in place for at least a century so it is tough to define as a "scandal", more like a long, non-sensical tradition that should have never begun but is now written in stone.
                        I'm not sure that having somewhat relaxed admission standards for athletes is immoral. If it is morally legitimate for colleges and universities to have sports teams, why is it wrong to give those teams the students they need to compete? If the track team has no pole vaulter, is it wrong for the coach to recruit one and is it wrong for the coach's recommendation to be considered by admissions (assuming that the recommendation is not bought, of course)? If the school has a student orchestra, would it be immoral or nonsensical to give special consideration to a cellist? Some extra-curricular activities do need people with experience, and if those activities are legitimate (and I hope we here would all agree that a track team is legitimate), then isn't it reasonable to seek applicants with that experience providing, of course, that they are qualified to do the academic work? At many schools, including most if not all of the elite schools, there are far more applicants who meet the academic standards (grades & test scores) than the schools can possibly accommodate. In those circumstances, one could argue that there is nothing immoral or nonsensical about giving a preference to athletes, again assuming that athletic teams are themselves legitimate activities of the school.

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                        • #42
                          I was on the Duke Med School admissions committee for 2 different periods, one of which was 1983-84, my junior/senior years in med school. They always had some med students on the committee. We interviewed in teams so I always had the same 2 MDs with me while interviewing. After one set of interviews we were talking and Eric Heiden's name came up. One of the other MDs said he would accept him, almost sight unseen, if his grades were any good at all. His reasoning was that anyone who could excel at that level would have no problem with medical school, and I tend to agree with him.

                          I also remember talking to a guy named Taymon Domzalski about this. Taymon was a Duke basketball player, good player, but never a star. He was planning on going to med school and was worried that all the other applicants had all these volunteer things and such. Since I had played golf at a pretty high level, our conversation was that athletes don't have options with their time. The volunteers can always say, "I can't make it today - I have to study for an exam, or I don't feel well." Nothing against the volunteers, which is laudable and important, but let's see Taymon telling that to Coach K about not showing up to practice?

                          So I do think there are reasons to cut athletes some breaks, the operative word being "some".

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Atticus View Post
                            Oh dear is right. The standards are at 14' - hardly elite - and the technique is far from elite.
                            not bad, considering he's using a steel pole :-)

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                            • #44
                              Is this sort of thing even conceivable in western European universities?

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                              • #45
                                Britain has some fine universities....but other than Cambridge or Oxford where a few rowers get some help and not much since post graduate students can also row, being an athlete means nothing.

                                The over emphasis on sports in American universities is absurd these days....
                                Last edited by Conor Dary; 03-13-2019, 05:04 PM.

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