The following is a company-submitted press release and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of College Planning & Management magazine.

Kaplan Survey: 25 Percent of College Admissions Officers Say They Feel They Have Been Pressured to Accept Well-Connected, Less Qualified Students

New York, NY — As millions of college applicants begin to receive word about where they may enter as freshmen this fall, a new Kaplan Test Prep survey of admissions officers at 400 top colleges and universities explores the question: is the admissions process rigged for the well-connected applicant? According to Kaplan’s survey, 25 percent of admissions officers say they have “felt pressured to accept an applicant who didn’t meet your school’s admissions requirements because of who that applicant was connected to.” The Kaplan survey also found that 16 percent of college admissions officers say applicants to their school who are the children or sibling of alumni have an advantage over those who aren’t.

“The acceptance of applicants whose qualifications may take a back seat to their connections is an open secret in the college admissions process, and our results show that it’s not uncommon,” says Seppy Basili, vice president of college admissions and K–12 programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “But colleges often say that more than looking for a well-rounded student, they are looking for a well-rounded class, which means they look at everything a pool of applicants bring to the table — including connections, whether political, business or other. In the case of legacies, some colleges may see second- or third-generation applicants as more likely to be engaged with a school’s culture. However, it’s important to keep in mind that although these ‘thumb on the scale’ admissions practices do happen, the overwhelming majority of accepted college applicants are successful due to their own merits.”

Basili says that admissions decision-making may increasingly be put under the spotlight with the recent attention drawn to a little known, but recently rediscovered federal law called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Under FERPA, schools must release the admissions records to accepted students who request them within 45 days. An admissions official at top-ranked University of Pennsylvania reports receiving an “avalanche” of such requests in recent weeks, already four times the yearly average.

For more information about Kaplan Test Prep’s survey, please contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or 212/453-7538.

* For the 2014 survey, 403 admissions officers from the nation’s top national, regional and liberal arts colleges and universities — as compiled from U.S. News & World Report — were polled by telephone between July and August 2014.

About Kaplan Test Prep
Established in 1938, Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 90 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses.

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