Yes, folks, it is that time of the year when everyone interested in attending college pants in expectation of the next set of Rankings – US News, Wall Street Journal World Ranking etc… There are just too many to keep track of to make any sense of what it all means.
I have talked about this before, but I want to dive a bit into another area. At this time of the year, as a college counselor for a school, my email inbox is filled with updates from colleges. This is the time of the year when universities want to alert counselors to updated information, changes in academic offering, news and highlights for the coming year. One in particular interested me, and it was from the Harvard Crimson.
The title of the email was Meet the Class of 2021, this year’s Freshman class. The point of the link, actually, was the demographic breakdown of the incoming class which listed everything from ethnicity and athletics to First Generation Income (First Generation applies to students who are the first in the family to ever attend university).
Here are some interesting facts. The largest population admitted were white at 52.1 percent. The second largest: Asian at 23.8 percent (this is never broken down into International Asian, just Asian.) 51 percent were women and 46.6 were men, with the other percentage identified as other. Almost 40 percent of students come from New England. And 39.6 percent of those had a relative who attended Harvard. Approximately 61 percent were anticipated to earn $30,000 to $70,000 in starting salary. About 30 percent, up to $70,000 as a starting salary. Athletes who were recruited came in at 10 percent. About 80 percent come from families that earn $500,000 or more annually. And finally, 29.3 percent had some family who previously attended Harvard. There is a lot more data but it was all very interesting.
What is significant is that a combined, potentially, 40 percent of admitted students were athletes, legacy or both. That is a whopping number! We already knew that, but to actually see it is striking. The next thing is, it is obviously better to be white, and perhaps female, and of course rich. So there is no wonder why Harvard has an elitist image.
While I am pleased to see the transparency of the data and the way it was presented, it all leaves some questions. Why is there such a large proportion coming from New England? What is the international breakdown? What percentage comes from various countries?
I’ll be honest, I am not a data guy at all, but I found this all very intriguing, especially anticipated income. One issue that is quickly dispelled is that graduating from Harvard is going to make you an instant millionaire. Knowing that Harvard is pushing social responsibility rather than financial status is a bit fascinating. A big clap here for being more mindful of social responsibility.
I have digressed quite a bit from the topic but it actually comes to fruition here. As I mentioned in my last post about my daughter wanting a college environment akin to her current school in Malaysia, seeking a school where she would fit and be comfortable with her peers, why would rank play a role? None of these qualities are truly represented in ranking profiles. These are things to seek out either in research and in visiting schools.
It is clear that some schools want to keep their status, while others are breaking out to truly represent the globalization of education in the US. But if you want to attend a school that is predominately white New England and rich, awesome. If not, seek out those schools that have wider diversity – social, economic, regional, etc… which is truly representative of the world in which we live.