Greenwich Time (Sunday)

Rich Kid Sports offer road to Ivies

- DAVID RAFFERTY David Rafferty is a Greenwich resident.

Remember the 2019 celebrity college admissions scandal that had everyone in town gossiping? With COVID now receding for the vaccinated, let’s revisit these shenanigan­s and ask, why did celebritie­s, Wall Streeters, and normally intelligen­t people who should have known better, act so stupidly? Sure, some were trying to secure spots for their kids in “the best” colleges, but others seemed to have been just as happy making sure Junior went to “the right” college. You know, the kind Greenwich parents are comfortabl­e advertisin­g on the car window.

So with a reasonable return to collegiate normalcy this fall, and with some offending parents in jail or in some other black hole of social excommunic­ation, let’s explore some better ways parents can game the college admissions system rather than fabricatin­g a fictional resume of sports heroics, and paying some admissions office intermedia­ry to look the other way.

Start with acknowledg­ing that short of doing minimum-security time with Lori Loughlin, many folks will do whatever it takes to get Junior into the “right” college. Most Greenwichi­tes, however, would rather go about it the traditiona­l, old-fashioned way: either by leveraging their own college legacy, hustling friends who make big donations to their alma mater, or easiest of all, finding a “Rich Kid Sport” Junior will want to play.

Greenwichi­tes know this strategy works because not only have they seen it with their own eyes, they’ve read the studies showing that 40 percent of white Harvard students accepted between 20092014 were classified as ALDC candidates (Athletes, Legacies, Donors or Children of faculty). They also know that when compared to Harvard’s actual admissions standards, three-quarters of those accepted would have been rejected had they not been ALDC. And while the studies focused on Harvard, the authors stressed that the same percentage­s could be applied to most other top universiti­es and colleges nationwide.

Now, if you’re a parent who falls into the L, D or C categories, congratula­tions! The odds are significan­tly in your favor that Junior will get into your school without any need to embellish their internship­s, summer “service trip” essay or over-inflate their community service projects. If, however, you’re neither appropriat­ely connected nor rich, it’s the Athletes category for you, where, for less than the cost of bribing a Georgetown tennis coach, you can help ensure Juniors’ enrollment at a college you’ll be proud of. As a bonus, you’ll be statistica­lly ahead of the game in making sure Junior will be destined for a top-shelf first job right out of school. How? Just make sure Junior excels in his/her Rich Kid Sport.

In a world where savvy parents know nearly anyone can aspire to join premier travel soccer and exclusive baseball programs, real Rich Kid Sports require expensive equipment, expensive facilities and difficult time commitment­s. Think of the kind of sports most high schools around the country can’t afford to run such as water polo, squash, sailing, crew, skiing and even lacrosse. These are resumebuil­ding sports that connect Junior to let’s just say, a certain desirable demographi­c, first to admissions officers and later to top job recruiters.

Perceptive parents recognize that premier colleges, including the Ivy League schools, are athlete heavy. Harvard for example, with an undergradu­ate enrollment of 6,788, has 1,200 NCAA level student athletes while Ohio State, a perceived sports factory with an enrollment seven times larger, has only 1,038. In 2018, half of all early admissions at Connecticu­t’s ultra-competitiv­e Trinity College were athletes, with the bulk coming from Rich Kid Sports such as crew, lacrosse, field hockey and squash. Want Junior to go to a car window sticker worthy, brand name school? This is how it’s done.

As for jobs, noted sociologis­t/ author Lauren Rivera points out that in their own way, Rich Kid Sports participat­ion is what elite Wall Street, consulting agency and other white shoe employers are looking for in entry-level employees. Targeting “Ivy League Sports participan­ts” from “the best” universiti­es, and seeing these rare and exclusive activities on a resume, allows high-status adults to hire their socio-economic clones without being accused of profiling, racism or discrimina­tion.

Because as one banker told Rivera, “You’ll never find a squash player in a public school in Detroit. To them, squash is a vegetable.”

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