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The Right Elite College for LGBT+ Students

IvySelect college admissions consultants have assisted many students in the difficult process of gaining admission to Ivy League and other elite institutions. As part of this process, we teach students the art of positive self-presentation to increase the probability that they will be chosen from an intensely competitive field. We coach them through high school course selection and advise them on standardized tests. We assist in the critical tasks of writing outstanding essays and developing extracurricular talents that will appeal to admissions officials. We do all this and more, yet we recognize that the student alone must cope with the pressure to earn an academic record that will survive the “first cut” review of an elite college.

All things considered, and even with the guidance of an IvySelect expert, the college admissions experience can be anxiety-ridden for a young person. So imagine the additional anxiety that an LGBT+ applicant might undergo. Until the last few years, applying to colleges was harrowing for gay students. They had to cope with the issue of whether to identify as gay, and, if so, how. In addition, LGBT+ students had difficulty discerning which elite colleges might fit them best.

Gay applicants can now more easily resolve the issues underlying their dilemma. This is 2015, the landmark year in which the Supreme Court affirmed that gay couples are entitled to the equal protection of the law regarding marriage. It’s fitting that many highly selective colleges now invite students to disclose their sexual orientation, gender identity, and preferred pronouns on their application. Certain elite institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania have gone further and announced that they would use application information about sexual orientation to recruit gay students. They consider this to be consistent with their diversity policies.

Not everyone agrees with this approach. The Common Application Board has declined to include a question about sexual orientation on the Common App. Their reasoning is that high school students are too young to be sure how to respond to a sexual orientation question. Even those who are sure but choose to remain closeted may find themselves in a bind. Supporting this viewpoint is Adam Chandler who, as a Yale undergraduate, knew he was gay but chose not to come out he was 28. He says:

“So as more and more colleges ask a question that is premature and impolite, what makes their inquiry truly nefarious is the quandary it represents for closeted applicants: Should they disclose their most closely held secret to increase their odds of admission?”

So, while the addition of a way for LGBT+ students to self-identify on college applications shows the progress that our society has made in civil rights, it also raises issues concerning the already controversial subject of affirmative action.

Despite opposing viewpoints, many elite institutions have elected to allow applicants to identify their sexual orientation and gender identity in supplemental application sections. A partial list of these schools includes UC-Berkeley, Smith, NYU, Penn, Bryn Mawr, Wellesley, Barnard, Duke, MIT, Dartmouth, Mount Holyoke, Cornell, UMass-Amherst, Princeton, University of Chicago, Tufts, Yale, Williams, and SUNY University Centers.

Of course, an IvySelect consultant won’t intercede in a student’s decision concerning whether to identify their sexual orientation and gender identity on college applications. This is a choice that should be made by the student as an individual.

If a student does choose to identify as LGBT+, this information will become part of the personal profile that is developed by your IvySelect college consultant. This profile incorporates the student’s personal interests, aptitudes, preferences, and goals. Among its other uses, your IvySelect college counselor will rely on this profile and his/her thorough knowledge of each elite institution to recommend which schools are the best admissions targets for the student. Because your IvySelect college admissions consultant knows these schools so well, he can apprise the student of those that are most welcoming to LGBT+ students.

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