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If you had to rank these in order of importance

stopitstopit Registered User Posts: 67 Junior Member
edited November 2009 in College Search & Selection
Penn says that they review each and every application "holistically". While there is some truth to that, I know that some parts of the application are more important than others. My question is which are the most important parts? Obviously high school transcript is at the top of the list, but other than that I really have no idea. Help me out:

HS transcript
essays
standardized tests
letters of recommendation
extracurricular
quality of character

If you had to make a pie chart in which a certain percentage is given to each category, what would it look like?

My guess is something like this:

HS transcript: 35%
essays: 15%
extracurricular 15%
standardized tests 15%
letters of rec 10%
quality of character 10%

I'm probably wrong. Correct me.

EDIT: Sorry I meant to post this in the Penn subforum. I'll go do that now. Feel free to delete this.
Post edited by stopit on

Replies to: If you had to rank these in order of importance

  • lynxinsiderlynxinsider Registered User Posts: 1,279 Senior Member
    I don't know "the" answer for Penn, Rhodes, or anyone else. But, I'd guess that standardized tests are considered more heavily than essays or extracurriculars. I'm also guessing that quality of character comes in when one's character is impugned. Having extraordinary character I don't think boosts you up much.
  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 10,118 Senior Member
    Usually you can Google for the school's "Common Data Set". There is a table in it that lists admission criteria by importance.

    Unfortunately, Penn seems to be one of those schools that does not post its CDS to a public site.
  • hmom5hmom5 - Posts: 10,882 Senior Member
    Over 98% of Penn's class was in the top 10% of their high school class--rank is king there. Next is SATs. Until you have the stats, nothing else matters. This is true for the unhooked at all highly selective schools.

    Essays and recs are simply used to differentiate the candidates of interest who have similar attributes in pools they only have room to accept a fraction of.
  • appdadappdad Registered User Posts: 149 Junior Member
    The weight a item receives will vary between campuses. However, I think it is worth listing GPA and rigor of academic program as two items to replace HS transcript. many campuses, particularly the most selective, have sufficient data that they can compare rigor of the academic program both within and between high schools. Comparing rigor of the academic program is key given the narrow distribution of grades in the applicant pool. I have seen situations where #1 ranked student was turned down with little or no discussion while a student only in the top half of the class was offered admission. In each case the decision was based on the rigor of the student's academic program. The weight given the essay and LORs also varies between campuses. Given the narrow distribution of grades and test scores many of the top campuses have to depend more on essays and LORs. The LOR from the GC is important they provide a lot of key data on the school and applicant. There tends to be more variation in the quality of the essays compared to submitted GPA or test scores. I give ECs a low rating. However, it is important to note that ECs can be a silent killer. Many applicants fill that they need a long list of ECs. However, it is not uncommon for a student to be rejected due to the mismatch between the 'long' list of ECs/leadership positions included in the application and the lack of references to the ECs in the LORs. Also I would pull standardized test into two categories. I have heard that SAT and ACT are discounted compared to SATIIs and AP scores. Again it depends on the selectivity of the college.
    Revised list:

    HS GPA: 15%
    Rigor HS program: 20%
    standardized tests: 15%
    letters of rec: 15%
    class rank:10%
    extracurricular 10%
    quality of character 10%

    Other criteria: 5% upto 15% This is the problem with 'Chancing'. Many top colleges go for the total picture. During the review process this can result in the weights shifting somewhat from one applicant to the next. This includes what many here refer to as 'hooks'.
  • hawkettehawkette Registered User Posts: 4,863 Senior Member
    stopit,
    The National Association of College Admission Counselors were asked to rank the various pieces of information that they review during their admission process. I don't know if you can use this as a direct indicator for U Penn, but I suspect that it's not that far off.

    Following is how NACAC weighed the information:

    Considerable Weight , Moderate Weight , Limited or No Weight

    75.9% , 17.4% , 6.7% , Grades in college prep courses
    61.5% , 25.3% , 13.2% , Strength of curriculum
    60.4% , 27.9% , 11.7% , Standardized Test scores (SAT, ACT)
    51.2% , 36.4% , 12.5% , Grades in all courses
    27.9% , 30.6% , 41.5% , Essay and/or writing sample
    23.1% , 38.6% , 38.3% , Class rank
    21.2% , 40.7% , 38.0% , Counselor recommendation
    20.8% , 31.2% , 48.1% , Student's demonstrated interest
    19.5% , 41.1% , 39.3% , Teacher recommendation
    10.4% , 23.1% , 66.5% , Interview
    7.6% , 37.0% , 55.4% , Extra-curricular activities
    7.6% , 23.5% , 68.8% , Subject test scores (AP, IB)
    6.3% , 13.4% , 80.4% , State graduation exam scores
    5.2% , 8.5% , 86.3% , SAT II scores
    2.9% , 21.5% , 75.5% , Work
This discussion has been closed.