5 Ways Elite-college Admissions Squeeze Out Poor Kids

Athletic scholarships, campus visits and other factors work against high-achieving low-income students, according to a new report from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. http://n.pr/1ldFev9
  1. Legacy preferences
    At some colleges, if your father or grandmother went there, you are automatically advanced to the second round of admissions. The authors say this amounts to "affirmative action for the rich."
  2. Demonstrated interest
    Many colleges give preference to students who demonstrate interest by visiting campus. Don't have the cash to fly from, say, California's Central Valley to New Hampshire for the weekend? That can count against you.
  3. Early decision
    An early decision application means you find out sooner and promise to enroll if accepted. It's worth a lot: You are three to five times more likely to be admitted to the Ivy League with an early decision application, according to research cited in this paper. But students who need to compare financial aid packages from different schools can't play this game.
  4. Overweighting GPAs
    In a 2014 survey of admissions officers at selective institutions, 82 percent said they attributed "considerable importance" to applicants' grades in college-prep courses, more than any other factor on an application. This seems pretty fair and straightforward. Except: Low-income students are more likely to go to small rural schools or big, under-resourced urban schools that don't offer as many AP or IB courses. And they may be steered away from taking those courses even when they are offered.
  5. Athletic recruitment and scholarships
    Recruited athletes are as much as four times as likely to be admitted to selective colleges as similarly qualified peers. Athletics are popularly thought of as the ticket to college for low-income and minority students. But the authors of this paper tell a different story: "Many of these slots ... go to wealthy, suburban, white students."