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School Selectivity

collegehunter123collegehunter123 5 replies3 threads New Member
Would anyone say there’s a general rule of thumb for choosing a certain selectivity based on grades? I know grades aren’t the only factor, but let’s just say for this they are. In a hypothetical situation one would assume if someone has all A’s, they can go for 8% selectivity with confidence.

Now for me, freshman year, I had all A’s. I’m going into my junior year, but sophomore year I had 4 A, 2 B+, and 2 B. As far as right now, what level of selectivity should i choose (percentage).

Ps: I know I can handle any workload and would prefer to attend a college that’s “harder” to get into.
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Replies to: School Selectivity

  • tk21769tk21769 10710 replies27 threads Senior Member
    Different high schools have different grading standards. Even within the same high schools, course rigor usually varies. So, it would be hard to come up with a general rule of thumb.

    In the Common Data set (section C12) of any school that interests you, you often can find the average HS GPAs of enrolled students. But take the number with a grain of salt. For 2016-17, Princeton reported its average as 3.89. UC Davis reported its average as 3.99. That doesn't mean UC Davis is more selective than Princeton.

    If your HS has Naviance, compare your GPA and scores to students from your HS who were accepted/rejected at schools that interest you.
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  • happy1happy1 24006 replies2407 threads Super Moderator
    edited June 2018
    No unhooked applicant can apply to a schools with an 8% acceptance rate with any degree of confidence. Having academics in range (including GPA, course rigor, standardized tests) will get your application seriously reviewed -- but that's it. These schools routinely turn down applicants with perfect GPAs and SATs. There is simply not enough room for all of the extremely well qualified applicants to be accepted.

    You will need to honestly asses your academic stats (including GPA, standardized tests, course rigor) as well as your financial needs and apply to a wide range of reach, match, and safety schools that appear affordable (you will have to run a net price calculator for each school you consider) and that you would be excited to attend. Talk to your guidance counselor in the fall, if your HS has Naviance that is an excellent tool, read some college guide books (ex. Fiske, Insiders Guide) and you should start to get a sense of schools that could make sense to apply to.

    I would focus on fit (academic, social, financial) rather than "harder to get into." There are many wonderful schools out there where you can have a great 4 year experience and get where you want to go in life.
    edited June 2018
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  • aquaptaquapt 2436 replies51 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    You can't always tell by percentage admitted. Some schools attract large numbers of unqualified "hail Mary" applicants, whereas others have a more self-selected applicant pool. Many get huge numbers of applications just because of their celebrity and/or location.

    Example: Reed and NYU both admit 35% of applicants. But Reed's entering class has higher stats than NYU's entering class. Reed is widely acknowledged to be a rigorous and intellectually intense school (often mentioned in the same breath as Swarthmore and UChicago), and it tops the list of schools producing eventual PhD's in an impressive variety of fields http://www.thecollegesolution.com/the-colleges-where-phds-get-their-start/ Reed also has a unique vibe that isn't everybody's cup of tea, whereas NYU has the "I wanna be in New York!" factor inflating the size of its applicant pool. Should these be considered peer schools just because they have the same admission percentage?

    Another example: I think a lot of applicants dismiss Portland State as not being competitive enough for them, because it accepts 89% of applicants. But the thing is... they spell out *exactly* what it takes to get in (and the bar isn't all that low - there are plenty of students who don't meet it). So, most underqualified students don't even bother to apply, because they already know they won't get in... and PSU ends up looking less competitive than other schools that have lower (but vaguer) standards.

    Anyway... being able to say you got into a competitive school is nice, but understand that the prevalence of this kind of thinking leads to a positive feedback loop where schools become increasingly competitive simply because they are competitive. Look deeper - there are many schools with admit rates in the 20's and 30's that are just as rigorous and intellectual as the ones with single-digit admit rates. But those single-digit schools are a lot more likely to sort you into the "nah" pile for having more than one or two B's.
    edited June 2018
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 6887 replies170 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    “You can't always tell by percentage admitted. Some schools attract large numbers of unqualified "hail Mary" applicants, whereas others have a more self-selected applicant pool. Many get huge numbers of applications just because of their celebrity and/or location.”

    Right on @aquapt So many use that figure as the default selectivity screen. Tire kickers can really move the equation but do nothing to change the core pool you will be competing with.

    As an example. In 2007 U Chicago had a 40 perecent admit rate. It was still a top ten school then. Is it more selective now. Is it a different school ten years later ? Not likely. But the appeal to apply has increased and many (but not all). These additional are not knocking anyone out of the core pool anyway that was there ear in and year out. They look for a very specific student who wants a certain experience Applications totals were lower but the pool was super competitive.
    edited June 2018
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