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How do admissions officers accept a perfect amount of students each year?

tchit87tchit87 79 replies16 postsRegistered User Junior Member
At colleges like Harvard, admissions officers have to admit like 3k students out of 55k applicants or so.... but how do they always end up with the perfect number? Do they say, out of the next 20 applications we say we'll pick one or do they just wing it until they have to start thinking about it? I imagine that wouldn't work so well. I know that ED schools use ED as an admissions strategy and there are regional officers that review then take them to the final admissions table but the question still stands.... how do they really give people an equal chance, especially when they have to think about diversity?
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Replies to: How do admissions officers accept a perfect amount of students each year?

  • AboutTheSameAboutTheSame 3087 replies44 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    They don't. Schools are constantly over- and under-accepting. The first leads to overcrowding and complaints; the second can be addressed by an expanded wait list and last-minute decisions. It is definitely not a science.
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  • vonlostvonlost 18647 replies13944 postsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    edited July 4
    Some years ago a school I know accepted too many freshmen because fewer current students transferred out during the summer than usual. Because incoming freshmen are guaranteed on-campus housing, some upperclassmen had to be “bribed” to move into off-campus apartments. Profs had higher advising loads.
    edited July 4
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77246 replies673 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    They do not always estimate yield correctly. They presumably have an idea from historical yield that allows them to estimate each admit's chance of matriculating, but sometimes the estimated chances are incorrect over the entire admit class.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33160 replies359 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 17
    Not 3k admits, not 55k applicants, never "out of the next 20, we'll take one," etc. Sheesh.

    They do their research, know their constituencies, broken down by various factors, how many accept an offer (very high for Harvard,) and hundreds more data points you can hardly imagine. They know how many they'd like to spread among depts, depending on who's already there.

    It's an entire department focused on numbers, categories, what works/what doesn't, in line with all sorts of goals.

    The rare tale of a misjudgment doesn't mean they aren't doing as best they can. If they have too many French majors, this year, they take fewer next year. If not enough freshmen enroll, they may go to the waitlist. If too many enroll, they shift housing around. If more kids want x class than the max, they either wait or maybe a prof allows a few more in. Or the school adds another section.

    In the vast arena of 'things folks don't know about colleges,' institutional research and enrollment management are there, doing their jobs.
    edited July 17
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  • jzducoljzducol 717 replies12 postsRegistered User Member
    edited July 17
    Most selective schools would have a similar process to Harvard's which was disclosed in great detail in the lawsuit. Starting early March the AOs would go thru a lopping process where admits can get pulled out or added in. They shape each class by trimming it to desired mix in this final step. The size of freshman class is limited by the number of beds (1665 at Harvard College I think) in freshmen dorms.

    In Harvard's case, by sending out 2000 offers and then putting 2500 on waitlist which has the same mix of admits, Harvard admissions basically has two copies of each profile in case one doesn't show up. With its high yield and tools like Z-list, it can pretty much guarantee it achieves any desired class mix with exact number of seats.
    edited July 17
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