Whatever happens, age-old questions about fairness in admissions will surely endure. For one thing, the nation can’t come to terms with a tricky five-letter word: merit. Michael Young, a British sociologist, coined the pejorative term “meritocracy” over a half-century ago to describe a future in which standardized intelligence tests would crown a new elite. Yet as Rebecca Zwick explains in her new book “Who Gets In?” the meaning has shifted. The word “merit,” she writes, has come to mean “academic excellence, narrowly defined” as grades and test scores.
But that’s just one way to think of an applicant’s worthiness. Dr. Zwick, professor emeritus at the University of California at Santa Barbara, has long been a researcher at the Educational Testing Service, which develops and administers the SAT. She disputes the notion that testing prowess — or any other attribute, for that matter — entitles a student to a spot at his chosen college. “There is, in fact, no absolute definition of merit,” she writes.
That brings us to you, the anxious applicant, the frazzled parent, the confused citizen, all wondering what colleges want. It’s worth taking a deep breath and noting that only 13 percent of four-year colleges accept fewer than half of their applicants. That said, colleges where seats are scarce stir up the nation’s emotions. Each year, the world-famous institutions reject thousands and thousands of students who could thrive there.
Yes, rejection stings. But say these words aloud: The admissions process isn’t fair. Like it or not, colleges aren’t looking to reel in the greatest number of straight-A students who’ve taken seven or more Advanced Placement courses. A rejection isn’t really about you; it’s about a maddening mishmash of competing objectives.
Just as parents give teenagers a set of chores, colleges hand their admissions leaders a list of things to accomplish. When they fail, they often get fired.
“We don’t live in a cloud — the reality is, there’s a bottom line,” said Angel B. Pérez, vice president for enrollment and student success at Trinity College, in Hartford. “We’re an institution, but we’re also a business.”
On many campuses, financial concerns affect decisions about whom to admit. A recent report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling found that about half of institutions said an applicant’s “ability to pay” was of at least “some importance” in admissions decisions. Among other targets is geographic diversity, which is now seen as an indicator of institutional strength and popularity. (Some presidents have been known to gripe if the freshman class doesn’t represent all 50 states.) A campus might also need a particular number of engineering majors or goalies.
Indeed, a college could accept 33 percent of all applicants, but that doesn’t mean each applicant has a one-in-three chance. Success depends on what a student brings to the table.
Generally, nothing carries more weight in admissions than grades (plus strength of the high school curriculum) and ACT/SAT scores. With limited time and resources, those metrics offer a relatively quick way to predict who will succeed. But the measures have drawbacks. Grade inflation has complicated the task of evaluating achievements, and so has the variance in high school grading policies. Standardized test scores correlate with family income; white and Asian-American students fare better than black and Hispanic students do. Also, when colleges talk about predicting “success,” they usually mean first-year grades — a limited definition.
And so, many colleges rely on “holistic” evaluations, allowing colleges to contextualize applicants’ academic records and to identify disadvantaged students who might lack the sparkling credentials of their affluent peers. Did they attend low-performing high schools or well-resourced ones? Did they participate in extracurricular activities? Do they have leadership experience?
What colleges look for sends a powerful message about what matters, not just to admissions officers but in life, and students often respond accordingly.
Dr. Pérez, a first-generation college student who grew up in a low-income family, recently revamped Trinity’s process to better identify promising students, particularly the disadvantaged. While reading applications, its admissions officers now look for evidence of 13 characteristics — including curiosity, empathy, openness to change and ability to overcome adversity — that researchers associate with successful students. These are also qualities that the liberal-arts college values, inside and outside the classroom.
Trinity’s officers can check as many qualities as apply using a drop-down box labeled “Predictors of Success.” They must note where they saw evidence of each quality in the application. “It can’t be just a hint,” Dr. Pérez said. He recalls a teacher recommendation describing how an applicant had taken a stand on a controversial social issue in class, even though other students vocally disagreed with him. Impressed, Dr. Pérez checked the box for “Comfort in Minority of 1,” a sign, perhaps, that the student would contribute to campus dialogues. Also on the drop-down: “Delayed Gratification” and “Risk Taking.”
While Trinity still values conventional measures, the new model has expanded the staff’s understanding of merit. “We’re trying to give students more credit for these characteristics, especially those who’ve had some challenges,” Dr. Pérez said. The new approach, along with the college’s recent decision to stop requiring ACT/SAT scores, has helped it diversify its classes. Low-income and first-generation students represent 15 percent of this fall’s freshman class, up from 8 percent three years ago.
“I’m trying to increase the tools we have, and get beyond a system that is absolutely antiquated,” Dr. Pérez said. “As the country becomes more diverse, as we learn more about the correlation between standardized test scores and wealth, we have to be a lot more creative in predicting for success in college.”
What most colleges ask for from applicants doesn’t reveal much about the many skills and talents a student might possess. But what if colleges asked for more?
The admissions process at Olin College of Engineering includes a live audition. After completing a traditional application, selected students visit the campus, in Needham, Mass., for an intense two-day tryout. In addition to sitting for interviews, they work in small groups to complete a tabletop design challenge, such as building a tower that can hold a specific weight. On the second day, they are given another task, like designing a campus building. This time, evaluators observe each student, noting how well they communicate with others and adapt on the fly.
The experience is meant to help prospective students understand Olin’s collaborative culture, while giving the college a better glimpse of each applicant before finalizing acceptance. “It’s hard to nail down a student’s mind-set from the traditional elements of the application,” said Emily Roper-Doten, the dean of admission and financial aid. “This allows us to see them in motion, in an educational moment.”
A desire to see what students can do with their hands inspired a recent change at one of the world’s most renowned campuses. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (motto: “Mens et manus,” Latin for “Mind and hand”) now gives applicants the option of submitting a Maker Portfolio to show their “technical creativity.”
Applicants can send images, a short video and a PDF that shed light on a project they’ve undertaken — clothing they’ve made, apps they’ve designed, cakes they’ve baked, furniture they’ve built, chain mail they’ve woven. M.I.T. also asks students to explain what the project meant to them, as well as how much help they got. A panel of faculty members and alumni reviews the portfolios.
Last year, about 5 percent of applicants submitted a Makers Portfolio. “It gives us a fuller picture of the student,” said Stuart Schmill, dean of admissions and student financial services. “Without this, some applicants might not be able to fully get across how good a fit they are for us.”
M.I.T.’s experiment has sparked discussions among admissions deans, some of whom say they plan to offer similar opportunities for applicants to send evidence of project-based learning. They describe the Makers Portfolio as an intriguing glimpse of how a college might better align its process with its culture and values. The catch: Reviewing all those portfolios takes time, something admissions offices lack. Even a small college like Olin, which welcomed fewer than 100 new students this fall, must scramble to pull off its elaborate evaluations. Larger campuses couldn’t even consider such an approach.
Thorough review has become more challenging over the last decade, with waves of applicants overwhelming big-name colleges, victims of their own popularity. The University of California at Los Angeles received more than 100,000 applications for about 6,000 spots this fall. Stanford got 44,000 for just over 1,700 spots, and M.I.T. juggled more than 20,000 for 1,450 seats.
Most colleges are considering more incremental ways to enhance evaluations. The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, with more than 130 prominent campuses as members, recently established an application platform with a feature called a virtual college locker, a private space where students can upload materials, such as videos and written work, that they could later add to their applications. Among its stated goals: to make admissions more personal.
So far, most of its members aren’t asking applicants to send anything different than before. But that could change. A handful of colleges are planning experiments using alternative ways to measure student potential. One hopes to enable applicants to demonstrate their “emotional intelligence,” or E.Q., to showcase their ability to work with others, according to Annie Reznik, the coalition’s executive director. Another seeks a way for prospective students to display their “fire” for learning.
“We want better inputs,” said Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions and financial aid at Yale. “The inputs we have predict success academically. Now, we have the ability to get to know a student better, from a different type of submission.”
Like many deans, Mr. Quinlan has grown wary of polished personal essays in which applicants describe their achievements. “They feel like they have to show off, because we’re so selective,” he said, “and it’s completely understandable.” Technology, he believes, can help colleges get to know the student beneath the surface of a résumé, to gain a better sense of their passions, the kind of community member the applicant might be.
Last year, Yale allowed students using the coalition’s application to submit a document, image, audio file or video in response to a prompt (they also had to reflect, in 250 words or less, on their submission). When Justin Aubin heard about that option last fall, he thought, “Cool!”
Mr. Aubin, from Oak Lawn, Ill., was then a high school senior hoping to attend Yale. The following prompt caught his eye: “A community to which you belong and the footprint you have left.” He submitted a short video documenting his Eagle Scout project, for which he oversaw the construction of a monument honoring veterans. Even a well-written essay, he figured, couldn’t capture his experience as well as four minutes of footage, shot by his older brother.
The content of the video impressed Yale’s admissions committee. “People sat up in their chairs,” Mr. Quinlan said. “You could see how he handled his leadership role, and we felt like we got a good sense of him in a way that we didn’t get from recommendations.”
Mr. Aubin is now a freshman at Yale.
Did the video tip the scales? “That was a difference-maker,” Mr. Quinlan said.
Even as colleges consider innovation, it’s worth asking which fixtures of the admissions process, if any, they are willing to discard. Some prevalent practices seem to stand in the way of meaningful change.
Giving an advantage to the sons and daughters of alumni is one such practice. Some colleges admit legacies (and the children of potential donors) at a much greater rate than non-legacies. Legacies make up nearly a third of Harvard’s current freshman class, The Harvard Crimson has reported. Princeton’s class of 2021 is 13 percent legacy, according to the university’s website.
While a handful of prominent institutions, including the University of Georgia and Texas A&M University, stopped considering legacy status more than a decade ago, most colleges seem unlikely to remove that variable from the admissions equation anytime soon. “I don’t think an applicant’s legacy status is a crazy thing to look at, especially in the financial climate some colleges are in,” said Rick Clark, director of undergraduate admission at Georgia Tech, where nearly a fifth of freshmen are legacies. “Colleges have to think about their longevity.”
The benefits of legacies go beyond maintaining good will with alumni who might open their wallets, Mr. Clark said. In his experience, they tend to be enthusiastic students who help foster community on campus, the kind of relationships that help other students feel at home and succeed. “Multigenerational ties to a place add value, creating this passionate, magnetic source of energy,” he said.
The key, Mr. Clark believes, is not to lower standards, or to enroll so many legacies that other priorities, such as increasing racial and socioeconomic diversity, suffer as a result. “Those two goals aren’t mutually exclusive,” he said.
Other measurements used by selective colleges have nothing to do with a student’s accomplishments or attributes — and everything to do with a college’s agenda.
About one in five institutions allot “considerable importance” to “demonstrated interest,” the degree to which applicants convey their desire to enroll if accepted, according to a survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. The strongest expression of demonstrated interest is applying for binding early decision, a policy that favors affluent students who don’t need to compare financial aid offers and one that some colleges use to fill half their seats.
Beyond that, technology has made it easier to track the number of times an applicant engages with a college (by visiting the campus, contacting an admissions officer, responding to an email). This valuable information helps officers gauge who’s most likely to enroll, which can influence who gets admitted in the first place. A higher “yield,” the percentage of accepted students who actually enroll, is widely seen as a measure of status.
The problem is that savvy students who know colleges are watching them can tilt the odds in their favor, said Nancy Leopold, executive director of CollegeTracks, a Maryland nonprofit group that helps low-income and first-generation students get into college: “Demonstrated interest is biased against kids who don’t know the game exists, or who don’t have the time or money to play it.”
What do colleges really cherish? The answer is influenced greatly by the entities they seek to impress. U.S. News & World Report and other college guides, not to mention bond-rating agencies, rely heavily on conventional admissions metrics like ACT/SAT scores and acceptance rates to evaluate institutions. A college president might wish to attract more creative thinkers, but accomplishing that goal won’t help his college’s ranking.
Generally, colleges are risk-averse. Rocking the boat with a newfangled admissions process could hurt their reputations. “The challenge for many admissions offices is to make a change, but not so much change or innovation that you’re risking the position you’re in,” said Ms. Roper-Doten of Olin. Asking students to do more could scare off would-be applicants.
“Colleges seek validation,” said Lloyd Thacker, executive director of the Education Conservancy, a nonprofit group that has sought to reform college admissions. “Without a real external incentive for colleges to care about broadening their understanding of what makes an applicant promising, they don’t seem likely to change the definition on their own.”
A recent campaign called “Turning the Tide,” a project of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, is urging admissions deans to rethink the qualities they consider in applicants. In a report signed by representatives of about 200 campuses, colleges are asked to promote ethical character and service to others through the admissions process.
Although some deans say they have no business assessing the character of still-maturing teenagers, the push has prompted a handful of institutions to tweak their applications. The University of North Carolina now emphasizes contributions to others when asking about extracurricular activities. M.I.T. added an essay question asking students to describe how they’ve helped people.
Richard Weissbourd, a senior lecturer at Harvard, who leads the initiative, recommends that colleges define service in ways that might resonate with disadvantaged students. “Many students don’t have opportunities to do community service,” he said. “They’re taking care of their siblings, or they’re working part-time jobs to help their families. Colleges need to say, ‘That matters to us.’ ”
In the end, increasing racial and socioeconomic diversity in higher education is a matter of will. A college can prioritize it or not, said Shaun R. Harper, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education who studies race and student success.
In September, Dr. Harper gave a keynote speech at the annual conference of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, in Boston. He urged his audience to think hard about racial inequality and “things you perhaps inadvertently and unknowingly do to support it.”
He cited as examples high school counselors who discourage promising minority students from applying to highly selective colleges; college leaders who say they “just can’t find enough” qualified black applicants even as their athletics coaches comb the nation for black students who excel at sports; admissions officers who recruit at the same high schools year after year, overlooking those full of underrepresented minorities.
As Dr. Harper spoke, many listeners applauded; a few scowled. He concluded his remarks by criticizing the lack of racial diversity among admissions deans themselves. He received a standing ovation.
In a subsequent interview, Dr. Harper elaborated on his concerns. “When the demographics of the profession have not changed, particularly at the senior level,” he said, “I don’t know that we can expect a major change, especially in terms of diversifying the class.”
Although Dr. Harper believes colleges rely too heavily on ACT/SAT scores, he says that the major barriers arise well before the application process even begins. Colleges, he said, must do more in terms of outreach to encourage underrepresented students to apply.
Dr. Pérez, at Trinity, has similar concerns. Although he is convinced that the selection process can be successfully revamped, he doesn’t think that will solve the No. 1 problem he sees in admissions. “The problem is money,” he said. “If I had more funding, my class would be more diverse. The conversation we’re not having in this country is: How do we fund colleges and universities?”
However the admissions process might evolve, it surely will continue to serve the interests of colleges first and foremost. Even if someone invents a better, more equitable way to gauge applicants’ potential, a college’s many wants and needs wouldn’t change. Deans would still seek to balance their classes by enrolling a diverse mix of majors from many states and countries. Colleges would still need enough oboe players and theater-arts majors.
“What compels institutions to change is deep discontent,” said Marie Bigham, director of college counseling at Isidore Newman School, in New Orleans. “If they’re only making changes on the margins, it indicates that they’re mostly content with the way things are.”
That leads to a big question in an age of widening social inequality. How unhappy are the wealthiest colleges, really, with the status quo? Some of the nation’s most selective institutions enroll more students from the top 1 percent of the income ladder than from the bottom 60 percent. Is that simply because of lack of preparation in the K-12 system? Flaws within the selection process? Or is it evidence, as Dr. Harper suggests, of a systemic lack of will to change those numbers?
Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president for enrollment management and marketing at DePaul University, says that it is the high-profile colleges that have the power to redefine the admissions process.
“Unless and until something changes at the top, nothing else is going to change,” he said. “That’s because, at a lot of colleges, people will go to their graves trying to imitate the Ivy League.”Continue reading the main story
The “Sponsor” is The New York Times Company, 620 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10018.
The New York Times Modern Love College Essay Contest (“the Contest”) is a skillbased competition in which participants will compete to be selected as author of the top essay, as selected by Sponsor. The author of the winning entry will be awarded $1,000.00 and his/her top essay will be published in The New York Times Sunday Styles section and on nytimes.com.
Participants will be invited to submit essays, which will be voted on and rated by Sponsor. The Contest begins at 10 AM Eastern on Friday, February 10, 2017 and ends at 11:59 PM Eastern on Sunday, March 19, 2017. The Contest will be conducted in two phases. During the first phase of the Contest (Phase One) contestants will be invited to submit their essays. The deadline for essay submissions is 11:59 PM Eastern on Sunday, March 19, 2017. During the second phase of the Contest (Phase Two) the submissions will be voted on and rated by the Judge. The voting will begin at 10 AM Eastern on Monday, March 20, 2017 and end at 11:59 PM Eastern on Monday, April 18, 2017. Daniel Jones, Editor, Modern Love, will serve as judge (“Judge”). Judge will select the Winner (as defined below) based on talent, writing ability, style, creativity and originality of entry. Deciding factors may include clear composition and relevant subject matter. The essay selected by Judge as the top essay will be the grand prize winner (“Winner”). Whether any essay is eligible at any stage shall be at Sponsor’s sole and absolute discretion at all times, including, without limitation, whether any such essay meets Sponsor’s standards of overall quality, as such quality standards are determined by Sponsor, in its sole and absolute discretion. The name of the winner will be published on or around April 28th, 2017, in The New York Times Sunday Styles section and on nytimes.com. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.
As a condition of Contest entry, each Contest Entrant (as defined below) acknowledges and agrees that: (a) Sponsor has access to and/or may create or have created literary, visual and/or other materials, ideas and concepts which may be similar or identical to the Contest Entry Materials in theme and/or other respects; (b) the Contest Entrant will not be entitled to any compensation or other consideration because of the use by Sponsor of any such similar or identical material, ideas and/or concepts; and (c) Sponsor’s use of material containing elements similar to or identical with those contained in the Contest Entry Materials or any essay shall not obligate Sponsor to negotiate with nor entitle Contest Entrant to any compensation or other claim.
Potential winner will be tallied by or about Monday, April 18, 2017. Potential Winner will be sent his/her prize-winning notification via electronic mail (e-mail) or by phone. A potential Winner has seven (7) days from receipt of notification to claim his/her prize by responding via electronic mail (e-mail) or an alternate Winner will be selected. Noncompliance with these official rules or, if a selected potential Winner cannot be contacted, provides incorrect e-mail or mailing address, is ineligible, fails to claim a prize or if the prize notification or prize is returned as undeliverable, an alternate Winner will be selected. Acceptance of a prize constitutes permission for Sponsor to use Winner's essay, name and likeness for advertising and promotional purposes without compensation, unless otherwise prohibited by law.
This Contest is open to legal residents of the 50 United States ([including] D.C.) who are current undergraduate students at least 18 years of age and older, residing in the United States and enrolled in an American college or university. Employees and agents of Sponsor, its affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, any other prize sponsor, and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of the Contest and their immediate family members and/or close personal friends and/or those living in the same household of such persons, whether related or not, are not eligible to enter the Contest.
Employees, officers and directors of Sponsor (including Sponsor’s parent company, The New York Times Company (“NYTCO”)), their respective affiliates, subsidiaries, distributors, advertising, promotion, fulfillment and marketing agencies, their immediate families, (defined as spouse, child, sibling, parent, or grandparent) and those living in their same households are NOT eligible to participate in the Promotion. Each Winner will be required to execute a declaration of eligibility and liability release attesting that the Winner has complied with all the rules and that the Winner releases Sponsor(s) and all prize-supplier companies from all liability for damages or personal injury in connection with the Winner's use of the prize, and a publicity release consenting that the Sponsor and anyone they may authorize may, without compensation, use Winner's name, essay, photograph or other likeness, biographical information and statements concerning the Contest or the Sponsor for purposes of advertising and promotion.
HOW TO SUBMIT A CONTEST ENTRY
Any individual wishing to compete in the Contest must submit an essay of no more than 1700 words illustrating the current state of love and relationships, to firstname.lastname@example.org (participants submitting essays are referred to as “Contest Entrants”). Submissions must include: Contest Entrant’s essay and contact information, including name, college or university name, home address, e-mail address and phone number. Each Contest Entrant may submit one essay during the Contest (an “Essay”). Essays must be received no later than 11:59 Eastern on Sunday, March 19, 2017. Any elements appearing in submitted Essays must be entirely original, created by Contest Entrant, and must not have been altered in any way from the original. Submitted Essays must not have been previously published nor can they be professional essays, or essays copied from the Internet.
Use of any elements or other materials that are not original, or in the public domain may result in disqualification of Essay in Sponsor’s sole discretion. By entering, Contest Entrants accept and agree to be bound by these Official Rules, including the decisions of the Sponsor, which are final and binding in all respects. Limit one (1) entry per Contest Entrant and per email address. Any individual who attempts to enter, or in the sole discretion of Sponsor is suspected of entering more than once, by any means, including but not limited to submitting multiple Essays, will be disqualified from the Contest. In addition Sponsor reserves the right to reject any submission without explanation.
CONDITIONS OF CONTEST ENTRY
As conditions of entry into the Contest, each Contest Entrant:
- WARRANTS AND REPRESENTS THAT THE CONTEST ENTRANT OWNS ALL RIGHTS TO THE ESSAY HE/SHE IS SUBMITTING (COLLECTIVELY, THE “CONTEST ENTRY MATERIALS”).
- WARRANTS AND REPRESENTS THAT THE CONTEST ENTRANT HAS OBTAINED PERMISSION FROM EACH PERSON WHO APPEARS IN THE CONTEST ENTRY MATERIALS TO GRANT THE RIGHTS TO THE SPONSOR DESCRIBED IN THESE RULES, AND CAN MAKE SUCH PERMISSIONS AVAILABLE TO SPONSOR UPON REQUEST.
- WARRANTS AND REPRESENTS THAT HIS/HER CONTEST ENTRY MATERIALS ARE ORIGINAL AND HAVE BEEN LEGALLY OBTAINED AND CREATED, AND DO NOT INFRINGE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS OR ANY OTHER LEGAL OR MORAL RIGHTS OF ANY THIRD PARTY.
- Irrevocably grants to Sponsor and its affiliates, legal representatives, assigns, agents and licensees, the worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sub licensable, unconditional, perpetual and transferable right and license to copyright (only as applicable), reproduce, encode, store, modify, copy, transmit, publish, post, broadcast, display, edit for length and content, publicly perform, adapt, exhibit and/or otherwise use or reuse (without limitation as to when or to the number of times used), the Contest Entrant’s name, address, image, likeness, statements, biographical material and Contest Entry Materials, including, but not limited to, the Essays contained in any of the above items, as well as any additional photographic images and other materials relating to the Contest Entrant and arising out of his/her participation in this Contest (with or without using the Contest Entrant’s name) (collectively, the “Additional Materials”) (in each case, as submitted or as edited/modified in any way, whether by the Sponsor, its Licensees, or assigns, in the Sponsor’s sole discretion) in any media throughout the world for any purpose, without limitation, and without additional review, compensation, or approval from the Contest Entrant or any other party.
- Irrevocably grants to Sponsor and its affiliates, legal representatives, assigns, agents and licensees, the worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sub licensable, unconditional, perpetual and transferable right and license to use the Contest Entry Materials for advertising, promotional or commercial purposes, including without limitation, the right to publicly display, reproduce and distribute the Contest Entry Materials in any media format or medium and through any media channels. Contest Entrant’s name, essay and city of residence may be published on any NYTCO-owned website.
- Forever waives any rights of privacy, intellectual property rights, and any other legal or moral rights that may preclude Sponsor’s use of the Contest Entrant’s Contest Entry Materials or Additional Materials, or require the Contest Entrant’s permission for Sponsor to use them for promotional purposes, and agrees to never sue or assert any claim against the Sponsor’s use of those Materials.
- Acknowledges and agrees that: (a) Sponsor has access to and/or may create or have created literary, visual and/or materials, ideas and concepts which may be similar or identical to the Contest Entry Materials in theme and/or other respects; (b) the Contest Entrant will not be entitled to any compensation or other consideration because of the use by Sponsor of any such similar or identical material, ideas and/or concepts; and (c) Sponsor’s use of material containing elements similar to or identical with those contained in the Contest Entry Materials or any Essay shall not obligate Sponsor to negotiate with nor entitle Entrant to any compensation or other claim.
- Agrees to indemnify and hold the Sponsor and its affiliates, officers, directors, agents, co-branders or other partners, and any of their employees (collectively, the “Promotion Indemnitees”), harmless from any and all claims, damages, expenses, costs (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) and liabilities (including settlements), brought or asserted by any third party against any of the Promotion Indemnitees arising out of or in connection with: (a) any Contest Entry Materials or Additional Materials (including, but not limited to, any and all claims of third parties, whether or not groundless, based on the submission of such other material); (b) any breach by Contest Entrant of any warranty, agreement or representation contained in the Official Rules or terms of service or in any documentation submitted by Contest Entrant; (c) the Contest Entrant’s conduct during and in connection with this Contest, including but not limited to trademark, copyright, or other intellectual property rights, right of publicity, right of privacy or defamation; or (d) the acceptance of any prize. All entries become the property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned.
SPONSOR’S RIGHT TO DISQUALIFY
At any time during the Contest, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and unfettered discretion, to disqualify and remove any Essay that it believes does not meet the spirit or requirements of the Official Rules. The decisions of the Sponsor on this and all matter relating to the Contest are final and binding.
WINNER SELECTION PROCESS
Entries will be rated from March 20, 2017 to April 18, 2017. Daniel Jones, Editor, Modern Love, will serve as judge (“Judge”). Judge will select the Winner based on talent, writing ability, style, creativity and originality of entry. Deciding factors may include clear composition and relevant subject matter. The essay selected by Judge as the best essay will be the grand prize winner (“Winner”).
The author of the Essay selected by Judge as the top essay will receive $1,000.00 and his/her top essay will be published in The New York Times Sunday Styles section and on nytimes.com. Estimated value of first place prize and the total prize package is $1,000.00.
Four runners-up will also be selected. Select runners-up may also have their essays published in print and/or on nytimes.com.
If Winner is unable to fulfill prize during time period specified, Winner forfeits the prize package. Winner must be 18 years of age or older. Prizes are non-transferable and shall be deemed to have no cash value. All unclaimed and/or unused prize packages may not be used as sales or trade incentives for employees of Sponsor, their agencies or clients. No prize substitution is permitted, except by Sponsor, which reserves the right to substitute any prize of equal or comparable value including cash in the event of prize unavailability. Prizes are non-transferable.
Prize consists of only the item specifically listed above. No substitution or transfer of prize is permitted, except that Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value in the event that an offered prize is unavailable. All federal, state and local taxes on prizes are the sole responsibility of the Winner. Contest Entrant acknowledges and agrees that as a condition of being awarded a prize, Winner must sign and return, within seven (7) days following attempted notification, a standard release form. Noncompliance within this time period may result in disqualification and an alternate Winner may be selected.
Sponsor and its officers, directors, affiliates, related entities, partners, partnerships, principals, representatives, agents, licensees, sponsors, successors and assigns: (a) make no warranty, guaranty or representation of any kind concerning any prize; (b) disclaim any implied warranty; and (c) are not liable for injury, loss, or damage of any kind resulting from the acceptance or use of any prize, travel related thereto or from participation in this Contest.
If any activity relating to any prize is canceled or postponed for any reason, the balance of that prize will be awarded in full satisfaction of prize award.
All taxes, fees and surcharges on prizes won are the sole responsibility of the Winner.
The Contest is governed by and subject to the laws of the United States. All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply. Void where prohibited by law. All Winners will receive an IRS 1099 for the value of their prizes. By participating in the Contest and/or accepting any prize, Contest Entrants grant permission to Sponsor and its advertising and promotion agencies to use their name(s), likeness(es), essays and any other material submitted in connection with the Contest for purposes of advertising, publicity and promotion purposes, without further compensation to Contest Entrant, unless prohibited by law. By entering, the Contest Entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, which are final and binding on all matters relating to the Contest. Sponsor is not responsible for any typographical or other errors in the printing of the offer, administration of the Contest or the announcement of the prizes, or for lost, late, misdirected, damaged, incomplete or illegal entries.
Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify the Contest Entry of any individual found to be: (a) tampering or attempting to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Contest or any Sponsor website; (b) violating the Official Rules; (c) violating the terms of service, conditions of use and/or general rules or guidelines of any Sponsor property or service; or (d) acting in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. Further, Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any entry which, in Sponsor’s sole opinion, is deemed to be offensive, libelous, slanderous, inflammatory, or otherwise inappropriate in any way for this Contest. CAUTION ANY ATTEMPT BY A CONTEST ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEBSITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST MAY BE A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.
LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY
Sponsor assumes no responsibility for any computer, online, telephone transmission or technical malfunctions that may occur during participation in the Contest (including, without limitation, the voting phases of the Contest), or theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, Contest Entry Materials. Sponsor is not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by website users, Contest Entrants, or any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Contest, or for any technical or human error which may occur in the processing of submissions or votes in the Contest. Sponsor assumes no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation of transmission, failures or technical malfunction of any telephone network or lines, computer online systems, servers, providers, computer equipment, software, email, players or browsers, whether on account of technical problems, traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or on account of any combination of the foregoing (including but not limited to any such problems which may result in the inability to access the Contest website or to submit Contest Entry Materials in connection with the Contest). Sponsor is not responsible for any injury or damage to participants or to any computer related to or resulting from participating or downloading materials in this Contest. If, for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Contest, Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest and select Winners from among that portion of the Contest that has not been compromised, if any. Sponsor reserves the right to cancel this Contest at any time without obligation or prior notice.
Except where prohibited, as a condition of participating in this Contest, Contest Entrants agree that any and all disputes which cannot be resolved between the parties, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Contest, any prize awarded, or the determination of Winners shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances will Contest Entrant be permitted to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental or consequential damages, or any other damages, including attorneys’ fees, other than Contest Entrant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (e.g. costs associated with entering this Contest), and Contest Entrant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased. In the event of a dispute as to the identity of a Winner based on email address, the winning entry will be declared made by the Authorized Account Holder of the email address submitted at time of entry. For purposes of these Official Rules, “Authorized Account Holder” is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an email address by an Internet access provider, online service provider or other organization (e.g. business, educational, institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted email address.
All issues and questions regarding rights and obligations of Contest Entrants in connection with this Contest shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of New York, U.S.A., without giving effect to the conflict of laws and rules thereof and any matters or proceedings which are not subject to arbitration as set forth in these Official Rules and/or for entering any judgment on an arbitration award, shall take place in the State of New York.
The parties waive rights to trial by jury in any action or proceeding instituted in connection with these Official Rules and/or this Contest. Any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to these Official Rules and/or this Contest shall be settled by binding arbitration in accordance with the commercial arbitration rules of the American Arbitration Association. Any such controversy or claim shall be arbitrated on an individual basis, and shall not be consolidated in any arbitration with any claim or controversy of any other party. The arbitration shall be conducted in the State of New York and judgment on the arbitration award may be entered into any court having jurisdiction thereof.
WINNER’S LIST/RULES REQUESTS
For a copy of the Official Rules or the Winners’ names, send a separate, stamped, selfaddressed envelope to:
The New York Times Modern Love College Essay Contest, 620 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10018.
Requests received after June 1, 2017 may not be honored.