Do rich kids have an automatic advantage in college admissions?

College Search

Our counselors answered:

Do rich kids have an automatic advantage in college admissions?

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

Do rich kids have an automatic advantage in college admissions?

It would be idealistic, but naïve for me to say no. Students who’ve grown up with money do have some advantages. They’ve probably attended good schools with recognized academic programs. (However, there is still a bottom 50% to every top school.) They’ve had the means to hire private tutors, test prep coaches, and private college consultants if needed. Parents probably didn’t limit their participation in extracurricular activities based on cost. (But they still are limited to 24 hours a day like every other student.) In researching colleges, they could afford to visit more campuses and apply without regard to financial aid. Money can buy advantages, but it doesn’t guarantee admission.

Edward LaMeire
CEO LaMeire College Consulting (lameirecollegeconsulting.com)

Do rich kids have an automatic advantage in college admissions?

No, not for the schools that matter. Mid-level privates will give an edge to full-pays, and will court wealthy families as potential future donors. But, the money alone really doesn't mean a thing to sweatshirt schools with massive endowments. I've found that the further you get into the top 25 schools in the country, the less inclined schools are to look at bank accounts. What I have found, though, is that these schools look for is connections. Who's important in China? Who has a father high up in the Communist Party, where we could use a personal connection to get a foot in the door in a heretofore closed-off province? These are certainly not questions at the front of anyone's mind when reading an application for the first time, but these connections can ultimately play a role - especially if they're significant enough. This all said, I think that colleges are just as inclined (if not more so) to give an advantage to low-income students. Of course, there are a ton of things about college admissions that are sketchy, but you can't impugn the motives of most people in the industry; people in admissions are almost all true educators. They love to hear about students with commitment, passion, overcoming obstacles, and so forth. The Dean and Provost might push for connections, but the worker bees in the office will always be pulling for the interesting kid who's had to work and fight for what they have.

Jessica Brondo
Founder and CEO The Edge in College Prep

Do rich kids have an automatic advantage in college admissions?

If there is a building on the campus with their last name on it, yes. If not, then no, only if the school is not need blind, and most schools are. Colleges are non-profit institutions that are dedicated to learning. A college that does not uphold the philosophy that education should be an opportunity for all regardless of income or any other defining factor is probably not a school you want to go to anyway.

Rebecca Joseph
Executive Director & Founder getmetocollege.org

Do rich kids have an automatic advantage in college admissions?

Yes, wealthy children do not have to worry about financial aid and can make college application and acceptance decisions based on pure desire. They can visit colleges, pursue amazing activities at home and away from home. Also colleges that are not need blind often accept kids that don't require financial sooner than kids who do as that enables them to offer aid to other students.So yes, life always gives advantages to rich kids.

Ellen erichards@ellened.com
Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

Do rich kids have an automatic advantage in college admissions?

The honest answer to this question is unfortunately "yes" - at least at most colleges. The bottom line is that schools want students who can pay the tuition or at least have the capacity to pay the tuition - even of the school offers a gratuitous scholarship. The exceptions to this rule are sometimes the need blind colleges that claim to take financial means out of the admissions equation.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

Do rich kids have an automatic advantage in college admissions?

Rich kids do not have an automatic advantage in college admissions as students are measured based on the coursework from the school they attended and how they fit into the enrollment objectives of the university. Sometimes, a legacy student (someone in their family has already gone to the university) can help a student's chance of getting into their dream school but that percentage is usually very small.

Tira Harpaz
Founder CollegeBound Advice

Do rich kids have an automatic advantage in college admissions?

Not necessarily. Applicants with financial resources generally have access to experiences and services (i.e. tutoring) that can give them a leg up in the admissions process. In addition, they are sometimes legacies at competitive colleges or have families who have connections at some of these schools, which can help. Finally, at certain schools, being a full-pay applicant who does not request financial aid can be helpful. However, many schools are looking for diversity in the student body and may give a preference to minority students, economically-disadvantaged students and/or first-generation applicants. In general, schools want to see that you have taken advantage of the opportunities and resources available to you.

Suzanne Shaffer
Owner Parents Countdown to College Coach

Do rich kids have an automatic advantage in college admissions?

I'm not particularly fond of the term "rich kids" but if you are asking if colleges look favorably on those students who can pay their own way--the answer is yes. However, this only applies if the student meets all the other qualifications for admission.

Natalie Sanchez Campos
Owner Next Step LLC

Do rich kids have an automatic advantage in college admissions?

No.

Brittany Maschal
Founder/Director B. Maschal Educational Consulting

Do rich kids have an automatic advantage in college admissions?

No way! It has even been suggested that they could be at a disadvantage, especially those who attend selective high schools as there is more competition for spots in top schools.