College Coaching Doesnt Hurt the Poor
By Hafeez Lakhani
Wall Street Journal
March 20, 2019

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There is a misconception circulating that advantages bought by the rich result in spots being stolen from the poor. This oversimplification distorts the reality of how elite schools admissions departments put together carefully balanced classes. Colleges need to enroll some proportion of students from wealthy backgrounds to maintain financial stability. Thus admissions coaching helps wealthier applicants compete for spots already set aside for students with privilege. It doesnt cannibalize spots for lower-income or first-generation students.

Selective universities painstakingly admit a wide range of applicants: public- and private-school students, first-generation college-goers, students of diverse regional and class backgrounds, students with various academic interests, etc. Consider that almost 60% of Harvards class of 2022 attended public schools and 17% are the first generation of their families to attend college. This suggests that Harvardas a proxy for selective universitiesis doing a good job making sure that privileged applicants are competing mainly against each other.

In holistic admissions processes, universities consider each candidate in the context of his resources and advantages, such as parents earnings and education level. Thus Harvards first-generation freshmen reported average SAT scores of 2118 (using the 2,400-point scale in place from 2005-15), while those who werent first-generation reported an average of 2257. Similarly, students from families that earn less than $40,000 a year had an average score of 2157, while students whose families earn between $250,000 and $500,000 had an average of 2280.

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The New York Times had an article on how students used college consultants:

Id Die of Guilt if I Did That: Families Who Hired College Consultants Discuss Where They Drew the Line
When paying for admissions help is a standard practice in a community, parents and children say they feel pressure to keep up.
By Lela Moore
March 15, 2019