Affirmative action for the rich and famous

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A friend who serves as President of one of the nation's top liberal arts colleges, told me a few years back that the three most overrated schools in the country were Duke, Georgetown (now becoming known as Wahhabi U), and Middlebury. The President's daughter had passed up Harvard to attend the University of Chicago, and spent a summer at a program at Duke. 

She was appalled at the lack of drive, and the relative "softness" of  the Duke program, compared to the U of C (that could be said for many Ivies compared to U of C as well). Today the Wall Street Journal provides a fascinating look ($link) at how Duke and Brown lowered their admissions standards to accept children of celebrities and the uber wealthy. Obviously there was an implied quid pro quo of future contributions. 

Both schools have done very well in recent years,  moving up in both the various  ratings and endowment charts.  Vanity Fair ran an article on Brown a few years back as the new hot Ivy, and revealed that they always  left some spots in their entering class for "financial prospects," particularly from the entertainment industry. 

Brown was one of the very few colleges among the nation's most prestigious that was not need blind in admissions. Even the regular full tuition applicant had a leg up on the similarly qualified scholarship student when it came to the last 50—100 spots in the class.

But the Journal article makes clear that both Duke and Brown went further in their efforts to attract children of the wealthy, to the extent of scouting out prospects, affirmative action if you will. Some of the defenders of racially or ethnically based affirmative action have argued that it is one of only several kinds of affirmative action in play at many schools. In this instance, at least, they are right.

There is affirmative action for athletes, for legacies, for early decision applicants, and  for the offspring of the wealthy and the famous. As admissions to prestige colleges gets to be an ever more elusive goal for the best high school students, the ability of certain families to buy a ticket in for their children, will inevitably become more common. One need not send a kid to Groton anymore to get the leg up. Just get your picture in People Magazine.

See also my American Thinker article on college admissions.

Richard Baehr   9 09 06

A friend who serves as President of one of the nation's top liberal arts colleges, told me a few years back that the three most overrated schools in the country were Duke, Georgetown (now becoming known as Wahhabi U), and Middlebury. The President's daughter had passed up Harvard to attend the University of Chicago, and spent a summer at a program at Duke. 

She was appalled at the lack of drive, and the relative "softness" of  the Duke program, compared to the U of C (that could be said for many Ivies compared to U of C as well). Today the Wall Street Journal provides a fascinating look ($link) at how Duke and Brown lowered their admissions standards to accept children of celebrities and the uber wealthy. Obviously there was an implied quid pro quo of future contributions. 

Both schools have done very well in recent years,  moving up in both the various  ratings and endowment charts.  Vanity Fair ran an article on Brown a few years back as the new hot Ivy, and revealed that they always  left some spots in their entering class for "financial prospects," particularly from the entertainment industry. 

Brown was one of the very few colleges among the nation's most prestigious that was not need blind in admissions. Even the regular full tuition applicant had a leg up on the similarly qualified scholarship student when it came to the last 50—100 spots in the class.

But the Journal article makes clear that both Duke and Brown went further in their efforts to attract children of the wealthy, to the extent of scouting out prospects, affirmative action if you will. Some of the defenders of racially or ethnically based affirmative action have argued that it is one of only several kinds of affirmative action in play at many schools. In this instance, at least, they are right.

There is affirmative action for athletes, for legacies, for early decision applicants, and  for the offspring of the wealthy and the famous. As admissions to prestige colleges gets to be an ever more elusive goal for the best high school students, the ability of certain families to buy a ticket in for their children, will inevitably become more common. One need not send a kid to Groton anymore to get the leg up. Just get your picture in People Magazine.

See also my American Thinker article on college admissions.

Richard Baehr   9 09 06