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Academic Index?

CollegeGoer789CollegeGoer789 70 replies12 threads Junior Member
edited August 2014 in College Admissions
How reliable is college confidential's academic index?
For example, I was playing with the numbers - and if someone has only a 3.7
with a 2350 on their SAT's along with a 1550 on their SAT 2's, they are still a perfect 9/9 candidate?
How is that possible? On ivy results threads it seems most people below 3.8 don't get into ivies.

Even if a student has a 3.0 they can still be a 7/9 - which apparently qualifies them as a competitive applicant.
This seems impossible.
edited August 2014
18 replies
Post edited by Chedva on
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Replies to: Academic Index?

  • foolishfoolish 880 replies14 threads Member
    that's why it's a calculator and is probably used moreso to eliminate the people under 4 or 5 up front and not to distinguish those in the upper range (URM/legacy/hooks/ECs/etc must then be looked at)
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  • LacosteLacoste 607 replies20 threads Member
    can I have a link to this calculator
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  • capitalamericacapitalamerica 442 replies9 threads Member
    Because the AI is a tad outdated and was more used for athletes, though later applied for non athletes as well. Just remember that the calculator is only that - calculator. It can't predict the future and it can't predict your chances. Just because you're a 9 doesn't necessarily mean you'll be accepted to every school you apply to, like it virtually meant several, several years ago.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 40797 replies7569 threads Super Moderator
    The AI is used for recruited athletes to benchmark them against those that are non-recruits. Period. End of story.

    AO's are not going to input 34,000 applications through the calculator and automatically dismiss anyone that comes up with less than a 9.

    Unless you are an athletic recruit, stay away from the AI calculator. For more info, see the link below.

    http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2013/5/30/harvard-academic-index-explanation/
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  • mobius911mobius911 193 replies1 threads Junior Member
    ^Are you sure about that? Michelle Hernandez (former adcom at Dartmouth) stated in her book "A is for Admission" that the AI is used for everyone. The book is a few years old so things might have changed. But the Crimson article is specific to athletes and certainly isn't proof that the AI is not used for everyone else.

    The calculator link is on the home page of College Confidential. From what I can tell, the CC calculator does nothing more than run the numbers exactly as described in Hernandez's book.

    To the OP: when a score that can go to 240 is indexed to 1-9 each of those numbers has to cover a range. A 9 covers 230-240.
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  • CollegeGoer789CollegeGoer789 70 replies12 threads Junior Member
    @Lacoste‌ here:http://www.collegeconfidential.com/academic_index.htm
    @mobius911‌ Yea, that book is what made me wonder why the standards are so low, how can a 3.0 guy still be ranked as competitive when we know that most ivies even for football would reject them.
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  • LacosteLacoste 607 replies20 threads Member
    @CollegeGoer789‌ Thanks for the link
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  • skieuropeskieurope 40797 replies7569 threads Super Moderator
    @mobius911 No, since I do not work in an Ivy League admissions office. However, no Ivy admissions officer is going to come out and say that they use AI to weed out applicants. Michele Hernandez has not worked for Dartmouth for 17 years when the number of applications was much lower, so they might have done things differently back then.

    More on the Academic Index:

    https://www.mka.org/uploaded/college_counseling/Publications/AI_Guidelines_Worksheet.pdf

    Another viewpoint:

    http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/ivy-academic-index/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0
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  • mobius911mobius911 193 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @collegegoer789 There is definitely a disconnect there. Conventional wisdom (and comments from many schools support this) is that GPA is more important than test scores, but the AI gives 2/3 weighting to the tests. I agree, it doesn't make sense.
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  • 430ktk430ktk 350 replies17 threads Member
    At some colleges, an AI is assigned for every applicant. Here's a Dartmouth admissions officer describing the application process in an article published in 2012, only 2 years ago:
    "Each application receives an academic index score, which is based on GPA and standardized tests. A low score is usually a dealbreaker, but still all applications are considered."

    Here's the article: http://www.businessinsider.com/secrets-of-dartmouth-admissions-office-2012-10#ixzz39VE8VW6s

    So yes, some form of an Academic Index is used for each applicant at some (probably mostly highly competitive) schools. I don't buy that it would take some ridiculous amount of time to put probably 6 or so numbers into a computer while spending 15 minutes on a file. It probably takes less than 15 seconds. Whether or not they use the CC formula I don't think anyone besides an admissions officer can tell you for sure, and there's no reason why all schools would use the exact same formula either.
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  • CollegeGoer789CollegeGoer789 70 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Thanks man. Never knew this happened at Dartmouth.
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  • FCCDADFCCDAD 964 replies20 threads Member
    I'd say not very reliable. I got curious and plugged in numbers to the calculator, and got 7/9 (222) when I put in class rank (top 10% -- estimated, school doesn't rank) and 9/9 (235) when I put in an unweighted GPA of 3.80-3.89.
    YMMVAPW.
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  • mobius911mobius911 193 replies1 threads Junior Member
    ^This is why many schools moved away from class rank.

    Typical verbiage: "Our high school has a rigorous college preparatory program; a cumulative ranking based on GPA does not adequately represent a student's actual achievement. Our school does not rank its students."

    The order of preference for the AI, as described in Hernandez's book and on which I believe the AI calculator on CC's home page is based, is first rank and then GPA (weighted or unweighted) if the school doesn't rank. The class rank point value is also affected by the number of students in the class. A valedictorian genius at a small school gets fewer points than the same person would at a large school.

    So if this AI thing is real, there is a strong incentive for high schools to do away with rankings, since the class rank point assignment methodology in the AI is so punitive, as your example illustrates.
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  • gibbygibby 10537 replies246 threads Senior Member
    edited August 2014
    ^^ The AI is a real thing; it's still mandated by Ivy League Conference rules, see: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/25/sports/before-athletic-recruiting-in-the-ivy-league-some-math.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    However, more than half of all US high schools no longer provide ranking to colleges, so Admissions has been forced to use a student's GPA instead to calculate the AI when rank is not supplied. And, as some colleges like Yale accept the ACT in lieu of an SAT along with 2 SAT Subject Tests, god only knows how they calculate an AI when a student submits the ACT without subject test scores.

    Just as an aside having nothing to do with the AI: Admissions Officers often read all applications from one high school at the same time, so they can easily compare all students from one school. When a high school does not supply rank, files are arranged in GPA rank order so the AO's can compare the rigor of transcripts. In that way they get a sense of rank, at least for all the student's applying to their college from a certain high school.

    edited August 2014
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  • FCCDADFCCDAD 964 replies20 threads Member
    ^ @gibby what's your basis for this assertion? "Admissions Officers often read all applications from one high school at the same time, so they can easily compare all students from one school."

    My understanding was the opposite - that they schools do not sort and group applications by the applicant's HS. I know they ask for school information (class size, AP courses available, average grades awarded in each class, etc.) That is, that students from each high school are compared to their entire class, not to the other applications from that school to the same college that year. Schools that do not rank will still reveal, for example, how many AP courses were available, how many students took each AP course, what the average grade awarded in each AP course was, etc. This is a reasonable basis to determine how well someone did in HS.

    Comparing an application to others from the same school, on the other hand, is far too variably dependent on whomever happens to send an application from that school that year. Several great applicants from the same school should not suffer from being compared to each other, and a mediocre applicant should not benefit when the only other applicants from the same school that year are worse.

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  • capitalamericacapitalamerica 442 replies9 threads Member
    edited August 2014
    @FCCDAD This might not be the most solid answer, but on multiple occasions, in books by former AO's, they have described the process in that they group together the applicants from high schools... But that's IIRC.
    edited August 2014
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  • gibbygibby 10537 replies246 threads Senior Member
    ^^ I should have said the process varies from college to college. There are some schools, like MIT for example, that specifically say they do not read all applications from a high school at one time. Other colleges do -- or at least track all students from one high school together on an excel spreadsheet to make head-to head comparisons. Here'a Washington Post article on how some colleges go about the process: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/feature/wp/2013/04/11/the-education-issue-does-anyone-read-all-those-college-applications-a-parent-finds-out/
    Prospective students are listed alphabetically by high school. Across the top of the spreadsheet are more than 20 fields, such as region, grade-point average, midyear GPA, class rank (if available), ethnicity, whether the student is of athletic interest, whether he or she took the SAT (optional at Goucher) and the student’s contact history with the college. This constitutes the student’s personal row.
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  • FCCDADFCCDAD 964 replies20 threads Member
    Thank you for the Post article. There were some surprises there, such as listing students by high school and placing a lot of weight on demonstrated interest (contacts) at Goucher. Although even there, they only say the apps are divided up 500 per reader, and only the uncertain ones are reviewed by committee - it doesn't say that most are grouped by high school when they are first read, only that they all are when the questionable ones go before the committee.

    If UVa is (was) shifting towards a regional approach, that implies that they previously did not organize by geography (which would include specific schools, I'm sure). Would they now, for example, compare all applications from a particular Boston high school, compare all New England applications, or simply assign all applications from that region to a particular dean, in no particular order? I can't tell. (BTW, UVa got over 31,000 applications this year, increases of around 2% IS and around 9% OOS applications over last year.)

    For UMd, they clearly do not group them: "The University of Maryland received 26,000 undergraduate applications this year. Twelve admissions counselors will each read more than 2,000 randomly assigned applications to fill 3,975 spaces."

    I guess the issue is that you really need to consistently get a representative sample from a school before comparing an application to others from the same school (as opposed to comparing the application to all students and courses at a school, regardless of college applications) could have any validity.

    If exactly 2 kids from a graduating class of 400 apply to the same college, could it help the college in any way to compare them to each other? I expect not. But comparing them to the data for the entire 400 graduating class should give all kinds of good information.
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