A former Ivy League dean who worked in admissions is spilling secrets about what it takes to get into elite universities. One of the keys to the castle, according Sara Harberson who worked at the University of Pennsylvania, is something known as a “tag.” If an applicant — no matter how seemingly qualified — doesn’t have enough “tags” associated with his or her name, it’s easy for the college to reject them.
What’s a tag? In an LA Times op-ed, Harberson tells how tags are attached to “recruited athletes, children of alumni, children of donors…” And here’s another “tag” that makes admissions even more unfair: “children of potential donors.” (That means rich people — no other way to parse it.) Harberson’s article is meant to expose how racism can still exist in admissions, and how the tags allow admissions officers to place value on non-standardized elements of qualifications, away from test scores and grades. Tags give extra credit in the admissions process for non-standardized qualifications — like “father a potential donor.”