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Admission Officers Reveal the Most Important Factors Driving Decisions

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Replies to: Admission Officers Reveal the Most Important Factors Driving Decisions

  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34829 replies394 threads Senior Member
    Fitzsimmons, of Harvard, said that several years ago. However, more recently, he's been quieter about it. IIRC.
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  • Data10Data10 3111 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    Agreed. One thing is clear...grades and test scores first and always have been. The rest is subjective.
    It depends on the college. We tend to focus on highly selective private colleges on this website. However, very few of the surveyed colleges were highly selective. Instead 84% of the surveyed colleges said accept the majority of applicants. Highly selective private colleges tend to be more holistic than less selective colleges and publics. When you have far more highly academically qualified applicants than you could possibly accept, you tend to pay more attention to less academic holistic criteria. And when you are a less selective applicants who doesn't have enough academically qualified applicants to fill the matriculation slots, you tend to pay less attention to holistic criteria, like ECs. Also note that among the surveyed less selective colleges, 18% said test scores had no importance or limited importance, and >90% said SAT II had no importance or limited importance. I expect the number is greater, among to test optional applicants or applicants with near guaranteed admission based on non-score criteria. There is by no means a universal consensus. Instead many colleges emphasize different criteria than the average from the survey..
    edited November 2018
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  • Waiting2exhaleWaiting2exhale 2903 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Demonstrated interest, I feel, simply should not be a factor in whether a student is evaluated positively for college admission.
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  • TimeUpJuniorTimeUpJunior 165 replies27 threads Junior Member
    I agree with @data10 on his take. For the super selective private schools, the list is actually upside down with ECs, teacher's recommendations, and essays at the top, while SAT/ACT scores and GPA at the bottom.
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  • Data10Data10 3111 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    I agree with @data10 on his take. For the super selective private schools, the list is actually upside down with ECs, teacher's recommendations, and essays at the top, while SAT/ACT scores and GPA at the bottoml.
    I agree that ECs, LORs, essays, and other more holistic non-stat criteria tend to be more important at highly selective colleges than at less selective colleges. However, this does not mean SAT/ACT and GPA are at the bottom. For example, HS transcript tends to be especially important at highly selective colleges with holistic admissions, which includes grades/GPA.
    edited November 2018
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  • PossePopsPossePops 65 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited November 2018
    I think we are saying the same thing in different ways. You are not going to an Ivy with a 3.0 and a 1000 SAT. All things being equal (ie comparing 4.0 GPA/1500 SATers), an elite is going to look at other things. I can only speculate on non selective colleges.
    edited November 2018
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79062 replies702 threads Senior Member
    I agree with @data10 on his take. For the super selective private schools, the list is actually upside down with ECs, teacher's recommendations, and essays at the top, while SAT/ACT scores and GPA at the bottom.

    For super-selective schools, top-end grades in hard courses and top-end test scores are expected. The subjective stuff distinguishes between numerous applicants who have these top-end academic credentials. But those whose academic credentials are not top-end have much diminished likelihood of admission, so it is not like academic credentials are less important.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34829 replies394 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    Can't get into a most selective without the grades and scores. After that, cant get in without the rest. Rare exceptions. Not discussing recruits.
    edited November 2018
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  • SDunhamSDunham 16 replies6 threads Junior Member
    I agree, I am sure the list is more or less accurate in general only. For very selective schools, above some (high) threshold I would argue that the objective academic scores don't matter nearly as much. Leadership EC, best in class/career recommendations and interviews (or personality evaluations) move way up the list. My grad #1 was basically perfect in 1-4, 7 and 9 and very good we think in 5,6 and 8 but had rejection after rejection, watching many classmates and friends with much lower academics not only get accepted at the same private elites, but get merit awards too. The common factor seemed to be a lot of leadership EC but could also be top recommendations, hooks and perhaps having personality traits identified as more desirable. While #1 definitely wasn't an introvert, he also wasn't super outgoing like some of his friends who made it into those schools. #2 is applying now and some of the same schools seem to be going the extra mile in recruiting compared to #1, despite somewhat lower academics in 1,2,3,4 and 9 on the list. For example, #1 never got calls and personal emails from admissions reps just to check in every few weeks. Again, I think it is the type-a personality and leadership EC that seems to be what they like but we shall see in a few months.
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4168 replies89 threads Senior Member
    I’m surprised that counselor recommendation would be up there. My kid’s counselor had a caseload of 500 students to deal with, so around 125 letters to write. I can’t imagine there would be much insight into what she would be writing.
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  • CTScoutmomCTScoutmom 1948 replies9 threads Senior Member
    I agree that it would be flipped at the most selective schools - once the student reaches a threshold with the academic requirements. Once they consider you "qualified" they then consider everything else that helps them build a class. I view it as somewhat like Olin does - they select the students they're most interested in, based on the applications and stats, and invite them all to campus where they evaluate them as individuals, and their "fit" with the school. From what I understand, once you get invited to the prospective student weekend, they no longer look at your stats - so that 3.5/1450 student the piques someone's interest is on equal ground with the 4.0/1600.

    The stats get you in the door, but don't close the deal - there are plenty of "perfect" students who are rejected every year, in favor of "less perfect" students.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79062 replies702 threads Senior Member
    I’m surprised that counselor recommendation would be up there. My kid’s counselor had a caseload of 500 students to deal with, so around 125 letters to write. I can’t imagine there would be much insight into what she would be writing.

    That is probably one of the big advantages of elite prep schools with respect to elite college admissions. The counseling staff are familiar with each student, and trusted by the colleges that they have privileged connections with, so if the counselor is willing to recommend the student to the college, that carries weight to the college.

    However, your public high school counselor probably is not writing that many recommendations. Some of the 125 are not going to college. Many of those who are, at least in California, are only looking at in state publics, which do not generally use recommendations.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34829 replies394 threads Senior Member
    It's not an absolute list. A rack and stack will have different values than a top holistic. Just cuz the studied this snd released a report means little in real life, your record. your targets, and more.
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  • snarlatronsnarlatron 1595 replies45 threads Senior Member
    That hooks are not mentioned as criteria makes the list suspect. And what do the selective schools do when most of their applicants have perfect grades and board scores? They are not going to fractions of a percent; they are looking closely at LORs and needs of school.
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  • rickle1rickle1 2080 replies18 threads Senior Member
    Re HS student attended - I think it absolutely matters as in do they have a track record with kids from that school? In our situation, S attended a charter school that was great in terms of educating the kids, but had never sent a kid to a highly selective school (only 10 yrs old- primarily poor kids who are likely to be first in their family to attend. had 100% college placement - amazing - but a lot of that was to CC or local colleges). When we attended the road shows for the HYP, Vandy, Dukes of the world they were generally held at certain high schools in our area (mostly private). One in particular seemed to be a pipeline to these schools as they sent kids every yr. So the school reps never learned anything about the charter school and I imagine it would be a difficult sell for them to take a chance when they have a track record of success down the road. I'm not complaining. If I were them, I would do that too.
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  • ekdad212ekdad212 159 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Each school has its own set of priorities and those are captured in their own Common Data Set, section C7. Students should look there for a better idea of what any particular school views as most important.
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  • InTranslationInTranslation 19 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I would add that it varies widely among disciplines as well. I read applications to an arts program and while I wouldn't say grades are irrelevant, so long as an applicant meets the requirements, I would only look at grades to help distinguish between two students with equally strong portfolios. If I were evaluating students for med school I would care much, much more about grades and maybe not care so much about whether the student can produce a strong, clear thesis statement. Also, I have been seeing a lot more letters of rec from counselors lately and they're uniformly terrible. The counselors seem to know nothing I can't tell from reading the rest of the application. I wind up wondering whether students are really unable to secure two letters from people who actually know them as individuals.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34829 replies394 threads Senior Member
    @ekdad212 the CDS is not policed. A college can weigh its answers as it sees fit. That doesn't mean it's absolute. And though, eg, C7 says the essay is important, it doesn't tell you there what makes a good essay.

    Relying on the CDS is incomplete. You need to read the rest of what else the college says and shows about what it looks for and likes.
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  • Busybee01Busybee01 33 replies0 threads Junior Member
    My son's counselor was at letter #75 by the end of September (when we had a meeting with her). Her share of seniors is around 180-200; a pretty good HS in Michigan, with about 6-7 perfect SAT scorers a year (average class size 800) and an Ivy feeder around here.
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  • karen88karen88 4 replies0 threads New Member
    Do admissions officers across colleges talk to each other? My high school counsellor told me that they might, or that the AOs at each college, looking at your profile, will know that another college will more than likely offer you, and that you would more than likely accept that college, and so they either WL you, or turn you down because they know you will have other compelling offers that you would more than likely accept. Is that true?
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