Letter to the Editor

SIR: While I agree with Adam Giansiracusa’s call for colleges to eliminate the benefits afforded the children of alumni and alumnae in the admissions process, I think he misstates much of the rationale behind the recent reforms at Delaware, Harvard, and Princeton. The already disadvantaged are further disadvantaged in the early admissions process—regardless of whether or not admittance is binding—because they are generally less well prepared to participate in the process than are the advantaged. Many of the disadvantaged go to middle schools that do not offer algebra and high schools that do not offer bypass exams. They do not meet with college counselors and do not take the PSAT. They do not have a low student-faculty ratio and do not have opportunities to get to know their teachers. By postponing the admissions competition for everyone, the thinking goes, the disadvantaged will have more time to compensate and the game will not be quite as rigged against them. No single reform is going to give a graduate of Central High School the same chance of gaining admission to Harvard as a graduate of Phillips Academy, yet the elimination of early admissions programs is a positive step. In my view, other positive steps would include ceasing to give an advantage to “legacies” and “development cases” as well as stopping the use of standardized testing. To really address the discrepancies between opportunities afforded the advantaged and the disadvantaged, however, each of these steps must exist within a larger reform effort devoted to providing above average support to those most vulnerable in our society. Sincerely, David Fox Instructor in English