As a trial over alleged discrimination against Asian-Americans in Harvardadmissions finishes its first week, one thing has become clear: there are waysto win a place at the Ivy League campus that fields a surplus of applicants withperfect grades and test scores.
Family wealth and connections to the school; athletic superiority; and anAfrican-American or Latino background all significantly enhance an applicant'schances. In some instances, students whose families pledged over millions ofdollars to fund a building got an advantage.
It has long been understood that you can, to some extent, buy your way intomany of the US's prestigious universities. There are certainly plenty ofexamples of people with more money than sense being admitted to eliteeducational institutions.
Jared Kushner, for example, got into Harvard despite having a mediocreacademic record. To be fair, this may have had nothing to do with his fatherpledging $2.5m to the university shortly before he was accepted. Perhaps theadmissions office just had a hunch that this was the genius who was finallygoing to bring peace to the Middle East.
A 2013 email exchange among Harvard administrators, for example, waspresented at the trial last Wednesday. In one email (subject line: "My Hero"),the dean of the university's Kennedy school of government commends the dean ofadmissions for doing a great job in extending offers to students with generousparents.
"I am simply thrilled about the folks you were able to admit," the emailsays. "[Redacted] has already committed to a building." The other peopledescribed as "big wins" in the email were connected to donors who had "committedmajor money for fellowships".
Another email made public in the trial talked about rolling out the redcarpet for an applicant whose family had donated $1.1m to Harvard.There is alsoan email exchange in which a Harvard development officer and an admissions deandiscuss how much money they are likely to extract from a candidate.
The case expected to run through the end of the month.