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College Admission from Prep Schools
May 2, 2011
Prep school college counselors deny special relationships they have with college admissions counselors. Of course they do. Why jeopardize what they have going for themselves?
There is an article in the “Brown Daily Herald” that discusses the relationships between top prep schools like the Harvard-Westlake School, Phillips Academy (Andover), Phillips Exeter Academy (Exeter), Collegiate School, Deerfield Academy, and Trinity School and Ivy League colleges. Back in the day, such prep schools as Exeter and Andover were what’s known as feeder schools into Ivy League colleges. Those were the students Ivy League admissions counselors went after. Has anything changed? Yes and no. Certainly more public school students receive admission to top colleges nowadays. But do a disproportionate amount of students receive Ivy League college admission from prep schools? Yes.
According to the “Brown Daily Herald,” “Both institutions [Harvard-Westlake and Andover] have sent more than 45 graduates each to Brown in the past five years, according to figures released by the schools’ college counseling departments. Top-tier private and magnet high schools boast high matriculation rates to the most prestigious colleges and universities. But these schools deny that the relationships between college counselors and college admission offices help boost their students’ chances of getting in. Harvard-Westlake, a college-preparatory day school in North Hollywood, Calif., and Phillips Academy, a Massachusetts boarding school usually referred to as Andover, are two of a handful of high schools across the country that send more than one-fourth of their students to Ivy League or highly reputable institutions.”
Jim Miller, Dean of Admission at Brown University, claims that Brown admits students, not schools and that the relationships that college counselors at the prep schools develop with college admissions counselors have no relevance. Wrote Miller, “Such preparatory schools possess a high level of talent, and the greater number of applicants from the schools is ’inevitable.’ Brown receives more than 75 applications from many of these schools each year, adding that ‘it makes sense’ for schools with such a large number of applications to see a high number of acceptances.”
Is it true that often times prep school candidates are more qualified for admission to top colleges? Yes. Prep schools have their own competitive admissions process and thus weed out candidates who may not be as deserving of admission to top colleges. Prep schools recruit talented students from around the world and thus they’ve found many of the talented students colleges will want — only they did this four years earlier. But is it true that prep school counselors don’t typically have “on-the-phone relationships” with college admissions counselors (Jim Miller said he wasn’t sure about this)? That’s bogus — prep school college counselors do indeed often have on-the-phone relationships with college admissions counselors. Top colleges want to keep these prep schools happy — they are a major source of its annual matriculants. Sometimes, former college admissions counselors are working at the prep schools. You don’t think they can call in to their former co-workers? Of course they can! And they do.
The article goes on to write about a relationship that exists between water polo players at Harvard-Westlake and Brown University. Harvard-Westlake sends a number of its water polo players to compete for Brown University and yet, in the article, it is written that the coaches of Harvard-Westlake and the coaches of Brown University do not have an established relationship. What constitutes an established relationship? Of course they have a relationship! They send their graduates there year after year. You don’t think these coaches have ever spoken on the phone? You don’t think they’ve ever met? Of course they have.
When Stanley Bosworth, the former headmaster of Saint Ann’s School in New York, retired, college admissions statistics were adversely affected. “According to matriculation statistics available on the school’s website, 50 students came to Brown and 152 enrolled at ‘Ivy Plus’ universities [Ivy League colleges as well as Stanford University and MIT] in the six years prior to Bosworth’s retirement. In the six years after his departure, 26 Saint Ann’s graduates have enrolled at Brown, and a total of 118 have entered ‘Ivy Plus’ institutions.” Stanley Bosworth’s stats say it all.