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  • Harvard's admissions process has always been shrouded in secrecy.

  • But a lawsuit brought against the university and a trial where a lot of new documents have been introduced as evidence are shedding light on this mysterious process.

  • And we've got the documents.

  • Sorry I'm late.

  • It's good over.

  • So in addition to spending a lot of time in a Boston courtroom, we've been analyzing these documents, and there's a lot of interesting stuff in here.

  • But first, let's tell you how we got where we are.

  • The trial recently started, and it's based on a lawsuit that was filed four years ago by a nonprofit group that accuses Harvard of intentionally discriminating against Asian American applicants.

  • Harvard has denied these allegations, and it's pushed back against the lawsuit by saying it evaluates each applicant as an individual and looks at a whole host of factors that matter much more than the applicant's race.

  • Harvard considers about 200 factors.

  • Did your parents go to Ivy League schools?

  • What percent of your neighborhood speaks English?

  • Are either of your parents deceased?

  • What percent of your high school is below the poverty line?

  • Normalized Academic index quadratic multiplied by indicator for positive normalized academic index seriously.

  • Of all the admissions factors Harvard considers, there's one in particular that's been especially controversial.

  • The personal reading.

  • This is Harvard's guidebook for its emissions officers, and it gives them guidelines for how to rate applicants on different criteria, including the personal qualities like courage, leadership, kindness, integrity.

  • They evaluate that by looking at applicants, essays at their teacher recommendations and at their alumni interviews.

  • While some criteria have more detailed information, like the academic section that explains each number rating the personal rating is pretty vague.

  • Some of them are somewhat subjective, very strong, bland.

  • There's even worrisome personal qualities, and the reason why this is relevant to the lawsuit is because the group suing Harvard has said Harvard's own data shows Asian American applicants have the highest academic and extracurricular ratings, with lowest personal readings very strong.

  • Then there's this, which is the interviewer handbook from the 2013 2014 admissions here, and it goes into slightly slightly more detail about what attributes Harford finds particularly attractive.

  • It calls these distinguished excellence is among other signs of exceptionalism.

  • The school advises interviewers to keep an eye out for personal qualities like unusual Effervescence charity, maturity or strength of character.

  • The handbook also says that it values positive leadership skills and creative ability in writing art or performance.

  • In addition to assigning numerical scores, admissions officers and alumni interviewers can also write short pros comments giving their impressions of an applicant.

  • This 1990 summary report for an Education Department investigation into complaints of racial discrimination determined that Harvard did not discriminate.

  • But it did find that sometimes those comments aren't complementary and feed into racial stereotypes about Asians.

  • For example, one road he's quiet end, of course, wants to be a doctor.

  • Another said that the applicant quote comes across as the hard worker rather than the really outstanding potential scholar.

  • And in a recent court filing, the plaintiff said, Harvard's admissions officers still make comments like this, describing Asians as quote, smart and hardworking, but uninterested ing and indistinguishable Harvard's admissions.

  • Dean testified at trial that these comments are not representative of the admissions office and that he quote a pours stereotypical comments As the trial moves forward.

  • We will keep you updated and you can read our stories on W s j dot com.

  • We expect many more revealing documents to be submitted.

Harvard's admissions process has always been shrouded in secrecy.

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