Students applying for graduate school have more to worry about than grades, extra-curricular activities or even race. Now, their weight could play a pivotal role in whether or not they get that acceptance letter.
According to a new study from Bowling Green State University, graduate school applicants who had a high body mass index were actually less likely to gain admission to graduate school after an in-person interview was conducted. The study showed that while the prestige of recommendation letters did not have any correlation with the recipient’s weight, the acceptance rates sure did.
“When we looked at [the application experience] we could see a clear relation between their weight and offers of admissions for those applicants who had had an in-person interview,” Jacob Burmeister, one of the researchers said in a campus statement.
“The success rate for people who had had no interview or a phone interview was pretty much equal, but when in-person interviews were involved, there was quite a bit of difference, even when applicants started out on equal footing with their grades, test scores and letters of recommendation,” he added.
For females, the chances that weight could be what stands between them and graduate school is even higher. The study found that women have a greater risk of being rejected based on their BMI.
“We know that these kinds of biases are pretty common and even somewhat acceptable compared to other biases, and there’s not much legally forbidding it,” Burmeister said in the statement.
Visiting New York University professor Geoffrey Miller caught lots of heat in June when he tweeted his own thoughts about how weight played into graduate school admissions.
The tweet — that was later deleted — proclaimed “Dear obese PhD applicants: if you didn’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation #truth.” The psychology professor later apologized on his Twitter, but it turns out he may have just been stating the truth.