Originally Posted By: Wren
Legacy helps build the endowment. Historical experience supports that. Deans list includes staff children and people like YoYoMa, who went to Harvard. How many schools don't help staff kids? I know the guy who heads up lung transplant at Columbia Pres and, despite being a wealthy surgeon, his kid got 50% off tuition at Columbia. And athletics are part of campus life. Harvard football is a big thing. The GAME is as big for many alumni as thanksgiving. But these are all less than 20% of admits. So the issue is that if you are scrambling for the remaining 80% is how do you stand out if you just have great scores? I think that is the whole point. How do you stand out?

My read of the judicial opinion says that getting a 1 or 2 in 3 of Harvard's 4 ratings categories results in something like a 70% admissions rate. While getting a 1 in a single criteria is less than a 10% chance.

Also, just for the data side of things - athletes, legacies, donors kids, faculty kids account for 30% of the admittees (and have a 40+% admissions rate). In addition, Harvard sets aside ~10% of the seats for kids from 19 specific schools (3% come from 2 private schools). Kids from those schools aren't really competing against the general pool either, they're really competing against each other for their schools specific Harvard allocation. Of course, I'm sure there's significant overlap between the ALDC group and the attendees of these private schools.

So, the answer to how one stands out appears to be exceptionalism in multiple areas, as opposed to exceptionalism is in just one. The exception being athletics where north of 85% of recruited athletes are admitted.