From a Twitter thread by Penn criminologist Aaron Chalfin:
How admissions to top universities in the US really works as revealed by a simple comparison between one of NYC’s top public high schools (Stuyvesant HS) and one of NYC’s top private high schools (Horace Mann School). A short thread with some basic descriptive statistics
5:10 AM · Nov 26, 2022
Stuyvesant is a STEM-focused public New York high school that admits solely on admission test score. It’s about 70% Asian, often poorer immigrant children. Horace Mann is a famous old expensive private school that’s about 20% Asian.
At @StuyNY, a public magnet school where nearly half of students qualify for NYC’s free or reduced price lunch program (<$50K for a family of 4 with NYC cost-of-living), the middle 50% of SAT scores are 1490-1560. See: https://stuy.enschool.org/ourpages/auto/2013/3/7/37096823/Class%20of%202023%20profile%20FINAL_compressed.pdf?rnd=1663685856736
At @HMSchool, a private school where tuition is $60k/year (and where 85% of families pay the full tuition cost), the middle 50% of SAT scores (summing the interquartile ranges for each section) are 1380-1540. See: https://resources.finalsite.net/images/v1637330416/horacemann/fw2ksubhm06y80wxdltf/HMSchoolProfile2022-23FINAL.pdf
At Stuyvesant HS, the top college destinations are NYU, SUNY Stony Brook, CUNY-Hunter College and SUNY Binghamton. See: https://tophscollege.blogspot.com/2021/09/stuyvesant-class-of-2019-matriculations.html
Stuyvesant High School Classes of 2016-2019 Matriculations
1) NYU – 305
2) SUNY, Stony Brook – 277
3) CUNY, Hunter – 205
4) SUNY, Binghamton – 199
5) Cornell – 193
6) CUNY, Baruch – 135
7) UChicago – 100
8) SUNY, Buffalo – 89
9) Boston U – 84
10) Fordham – 70
11) Michigan* – 66 to 70
12) Carnegie Mellon – 64
13) Rensselaer Polytechnic – 52
14) St. Johns – 51
15) MIT – 42
16) Harvard – 41
17) CUNY, City* – 38 to 42
18) RIT – 37
19) Yale – 35
20) Princeton – 34
8.5 are public, with most in New York State and giving New York residents a sizable tuition break. #1 NYU is private, as is #7 U. of Chicago. #5 Cornell is mostly private.
At the Horace Mann School, more than 1/3 of students are admitted to an Ivy League university and the top college destinations are Cornell, U Chicago, Columbia and Georgetown. See:
Class of 2022 …
16 to Cornell University
16 to University of Chicago
11 to Columbia University
8 to Georgetown University
6 to New York University
6 to University of Michigan
6 to University of Pennsylvania
5 to Brown University
5 to Tufts University
4 to Emory University
4 to Princeton University
4 to Yale University
3 to Barnard College
3 to Colby College
3 to Duke University
3 to Indiana University
3 to Northwestern University
3 to University of Southern California
3 to Washington University in St. Louis
3 to Wesleyan University
18.5 of the top 20 are private colleges. Cornell has public parts, but Horace Mann grads probably aren’t going to attend the taxpayer-supported Ag School at Cornell. The only public college out of the top 20 is Indiana U. of all places, in Bloomington.
Post-script: Since many have wondered about whether this is driven by applicant preferences: At HM, 35% of the class attends an Ivy League university (+ Chicago, Stanford, MIT). At Stuy, the most recent figure is 18%. …
Could some of this be explained to differences in the ability to pay tuition at private colleges? Yes, probably. But consider that nearly all top private colleges are need blind. At Cornell, e.g., the average size of a tuition grant is ~ $43K, 70% of the cost of tuition.
For reference, at SUNY where tuition is $17K, the average tuition grant was $13K. This means that for a qualifying student, Cornell will cost approximately $18K/year and SUNY will cost $4k/year. So the prices are different but not nearly as different as the sticker prices.
The purpose of this thread is not to argue that the SAT exam should be the sole arbiter of college success. But is it right that the Horace Mann students have so much more to offer top colleges than the students who attended public school? Maybe. But not a case I’d want to make.
The comparison is striking. Even among kids who uniformly score in the top 1-3% on national exams, wealthy families have established a unique means to convert merit into admissions success, therefore transmitting this particular type of cultural capital to their children. …
Also, well-to-do white people tend to assume it’s their duty to not only pay their taxes but also to pay huge amounts of money to send their kids to private high schools and colleges, while Asian immigrants tend to assume American taxpayers should pay to educate their kids.
You can also see the white upper class kids’ custom of going to college far from home despite the unlikelihood that as an affluent New Yorker you’ll wind up living in Michigan or Tennessee, so you won’t benefit as much from your college friends network when you return to NYC. Washington U. in St. Louis is a fine college, but how likely is a NYC rich kid going to wind up in the St. Louis region hanging out with all your St. Louis-oriented friends? Wealthy white kids from big cities often have a self-defeating case of wanderlust when it comes to picking a college.
In contrast, the mostly Asian and upwardly mobile working class kids at Stuyvesant tend to go to college close to New York, so they can benefit from family and friends networks.
So, are we so sure that Stuyvesant grads, who tend to come from calculating and unsentimental families, are getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop compared to Horace Mann grads?