The Z-list

Did you know that Harvard sets aside about 20 places a year for students it wants to admit (i.e. students with whose parents or high school Harvard wants to maintain good relations) but who don’t quite make the academic cut?  These students — the so-called “Z-list” — are asked to take an extra year to burnish their credentials so that Harvard can admit them in good conscience.  This Crimson article from 2002 has much more.

I think the name “Z-list” is actually more insulting than the practice itself.

By the way, that Crimson article has some nice mild number-crunching in it — and the reporter, Dan Rosenheck, now writes about sports statistics for the New York Times.  His article this week about the college pitcher Stephen Strasburg is a fine piece of quantitative sportswriting.

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3 thoughts on “The Z-list

  1. Em says:

    Life on the Z-list? Bet those kids do just as well once they are in the mix.

  2. Michael Lugo says:

    I knew this, because I read The Price of Admission by Daniel Golden, which points out many of the groups that get special treatment in college admissions. (I suspect that this Crimson article was one of Golden’s sources.)

  3. Richard says:

    Wow, reading that Crimson article just brought back old and almost forgotten memories. In the late 60s I applied for admission to Harvard as an undergraduate, and at some point in the process was told that I had to do an interview with someone. That person had to drive several hours to get to my house. Unfortunately, I had a horrible respiratory infection that went on and on for weeks (an early sign that there could be something wrong with my immune system). We kept postponing, but finally they said they had to come and get it done. The infection and cough were so bad that I was on a very high dose of codeine, and high enough that I had odd experiences like getting up from lying on the couch and feeling like I was six inches high. So, when the gentleman finally showed up, I “floated” down the steps from my bedroom :-) very high on the codeine and in my jammies and bathrobe. Needless to say, the interview did not go well. My second choice, Berkeley, did accept me as an out of state student, but alas, I did not get enough financial aid and my parents did not want to make up the difference.

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