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Other “Good Fit” Options for Disappointed Stanford Applicant

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Replies to: Other “Good Fit” Options for Disappointed Stanford Applicant

  • UndercrackersUndercrackers 869 replies2 threadsRegistered User Member
    @SCMHAALUM (congrats to your son!) The key word here is "lucky". We spend a good portion of a young person's life telling them that talent paired with hard work (and very often more of the latter than the former) will achieve results, and he/she probably has had instance after instance of that being reinforced (good grades, wins, awards, etc.), only to then tell them that - even after the straight A's, 14 AP classes, top SAT/ACT scores, impressive EC's, sleep deprivation, stunted social life - getting into a top-tier college is STILL a crapshoot. What a rude awakening.

    Going through the college application/acceptance process is like dating. "Hey, I'm a catch. Why aren't you interested in me?" We aren't all interested in the same people, and if we are, it may not be for the same reasons. That's why committing your heart to a school, like a person, is a gamble: if they love you back, there is no other feeling like it in the world. If they don't, it's crushing. While the top grades/test scores get you a ticket to the dance, there may be unquantifiable things a school sees (or doesn't see) in an applicant that makes the process seem random and unfair. You just have to make sure you have other options (colleges, dates) so that one of them pans out.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34216 replies378 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited February 8
    Post 6, from @TiggerDad: Bingo! More kids should learn this lesson.

    "I really felt like this school was a great fit for me..."
    See how sudents look at this through a one way glass? So many times on CC, the refrain is what the kid wants, no idea what the college looks for. The top colleges choose the kids who meet what THEY want.

    And sorry about this, but if you think you're smart enough to get into a tippy top, you should be smart enough to know they're holistic, what that means, digest that it's not the fluff, quit bitching that no one "told me" what they look for and realize that the job is to do that figuring yourself. After all, you think you're smart enough for a tippy top. Rinse and repeat.

    No, it's not all about stats or titles or awards or whom you think you're better than. A lot actually comes through in the app and supp. It's not just transcript and scores.

    I've been liking the Ask the Dean answers I've seen lately. But this one, again, focuses on what the kid wants in a college, misses that you need to match. Only so much compassion I can muster for a job half done.
    edited February 8
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  • SCMHAALUMSCMHAALUM 203 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @Undercrackers I like your dating metaphor. Online dating, without a photo, actually a photo can be found on most of the kids' social media :) There are many kids in the college love triangle and end up being very happy and fit in the college that loves them.
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  • MWolfMWolf 1513 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited February 10
    I agree with those who think that the kid is a bit entitled and whiny, but I think that they have a reason to be both entitled and whiny.

    The way these kids have perceived their lives, there is little randomness, and all choices are pretty transparent, and quantifiable. In all of their completions, be they math Olympiads, spelling bees, robotics competitions, etc. the winner is the person who had the highest score, performed best, has the best product. If you work hard, AND do all the things you are required to do, AND you're smart, you win, unless there is somebody who is smarter or has done more, or worked harder. If you lose, you can see the reasons.

    They apply to top colleges, and suddenly people are "winning" despite the fact that they do not seem to have done more or worked harder, or be smarter, while those who have apparently worked the hardest, gone above and beyond the requirement, and are evidently the smartest, are "losing". As far as they can see, they've done everything right and they're losing out to people who did not follow what they see as "the rules of the game".

    It's confusing, it goes against what they learned about life in the previous 12 years, and it does not seem fair to them. They've followed the rules for 12 years, and suddenly, when it seems to them that they are about to reap the benefits of that, the rules are suddenly changed. They suddenly need to meet the criteria for "holistic" decisions for academic outcomes for what is likely the first time in their lives, and those criteria are very different than the criteria by which they have been judges since they were small.

    They feel entitled, because everybody around them, from parents to teachers to every school administrator, has told them that their academic achievements entitle them to a place in the top school of their choice. They're whiny because that turned out to be a false promise.

    Of course they usually don't understand how much of their lives have been determined by "holistic criteria" or randomness.
    edited February 10
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34216 replies378 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    That's only half the job, though. The full app is the vehicle and there's much more in it than transcript and a list of ECs. They aren't asking the further questions out of idle curiosity. You need savvy. If you stop at, "It's random" or, "They didn't spell it out," you do yourself no favors. Maybe you aren't the sort.

    It'll be the same when applying for jobs.
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  • MWolfMWolf 1513 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @lookingforward I'm not saying that the kids are correct in their assumptions, or even that the world should work the way they think it does. I'm just saying why these kids are unhappy with the results.

    The most important thing that applicants do not understand is the same thing that many job seekers don't understand - an acceptance is not a prize for academic achievements. It is not a prize at all. Colleges choose the applicants which are best for the college, not the objectively best applicants. Good academics and test scores will increase your chances, because having kids with high stats is good for the college, but they are not the only deciding factors. The holistic admissions process allows them to choose applicants based on what they perceive as the best cohort for them, which means one that creates the best balance between reputation and endowment.

    So, this means that there are criteria for selection that are in the control of applicants, and there are other criteria that are out of the control of an applicant, including the profiles of other applicants. If a college is looking for geographical diversity, cannot control how many people are applying from your area or your school. You cannot control your URM status or your legacy status (or lack thereof), how much you stand out, or what the specific admissions officers who look at your application think of your profile.

    Because of these factors, admissions are probabilistic, not deterministic. No matter how good your transcripts and ECs are, no matter how "savvy" you are, you can only increase the probability of being accepted, but you cannot ensure your acceptance. This means that a situation in which a person who has a low probability of being accepted will nonetheless be accepted, while a person with a high probability to be accepted will not be accepted.

    This will look like a deterministic process to most of the high stats students who are accepted, while it will seem random to high stats students who are rejected (as well as to lower stats students who are accepted).
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34216 replies378 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    But low or high probability is still based on the application package the individual puts forth. You can't base it solely or even mostly on stats and some titles in ECs (or hierarchical elements like most vol hours or a more national awards.) Most kids are not savvy to this, ime.

    The app itself, including supps and LoRs, is not just a pretty package, an incidental wrapping. Its key to how this kid thinks, chooses stretch, understands what the college wants to see, etc, and shows that. You can be the brightest kid out there, have won awards, and still mess the application. You can proclaim your love of stem and not provde a stem LoR, instead, your sports coach. You can miss the Why Us. You can show personality elements that don't match.

    And only later, after you've done your part or not, do institutiona factors like geo diversity come into play.

    The kids who present themselves on CC as so bright, so accomplished, that they deserve a top tier, should be able to grasp that this is not simply about stats and "titles." (And not jump to the superficial conclusion that it's not heirarchical, so it must be random or a crapshoot.) Some get it. Many don't.
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  • MmeZeeZeeMmeZeeZee 624 replies14 threadsRegistered User Member
    So many things in life are more about meeting the minimum requirements, being seen and then performing. In college, that's grades+scores+EC medals, essay, interview.

    You may spend 12 years on the minimum requirements (for elite schools anyway) but that's still only 1/3rd of the equation.

    People seem to get touchy about chance and subjectivity but if being seen isn't about that I don't know what is.
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  • scandalpkscandalpk 8 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Just do what your heart says.
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  • YawnmomYawnmom 24 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    The thing to remember is that most of the billionaire speakers did NOT go to Stanford (or Harvard, etc.) Most of them went to any of a number of schools, but they all seem to have one thing in common: confidence in an idea or their own abilities. Some of them had one great idea that really panned out for them, others are brilliant investors, and still others are serial entrepreneurs. However, it's not where they went to college that made the difference. It's that they are smart, even brilliant, but also they are willing to go forward with their ideas, no matter what it takes. That's not really being emphasized much in this area.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29423 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I wonder where else this student applied and his results.
    Stanford is a wonderful school. It gets to get the picks of the litter in tees of its kids, and the litter is mighty fine indeed. Simply too many qualified kids apply for limited seats. So it’s a lottery ticket unless you are one of the rarest student that meets the school’s particular needs. Like a great athlete in an impact sport that they want. I’m sure they have their development, celebrity picks as well.

    I certainly don’t blame any student for wanting to get into Stanford or wonder why so many apply there. I
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