Admission Process: Ideas, Reform, and Criticism - A Debate

<p>I feel ethically, i must first disclaim that I am quite a disgruntle deferee, but this is more for the sake of people like staticsloloqouy and justice, and the many others whom we have shared these last few months with who have also shared my fate (and those of you who got in):</p>

<p>As I read the board, I felt a general feeling from people who were deferred and I think it goes like this:</p>

<p>"I did everythign i was supposed to do (grades, test scores, extracurriculers), and I simply dont understand why I didnt get in"</p>

<p>Should American Universities (Harvard in particular) continue in their current type of admissions, or should reform be made. </p>

<p>I'll start the conversation by saying that deferral letters should be less vague and should simply say that we rejected you because you lacked X quality, or did poorly on Y test. </p>

<p>Many foreign countries, take Oxford University, do not consider extracurriculars in the admission process. There is a relativly high acceptance rate because students know that if i get this, this, and that as my grades on my a levels than i will get in. Although I agree that a well rounded student body is necessary should schools really have such arbitrary standards of admission?</p>

<p>Please post your comments in this forum about anything you feel about the admission process. Let the debate begin.</p>

<p>I don't agree about the emails. If they did that, we wouldn't get letters until mid January. That would take SO long.
I am angry about the "Accepted Students" Website. I also think they should eliminate Affirmative Action and judge only on the basis of merit. But thats just my 2 cents.</p>

<p>For a school seeking people who are interesting and bustling with creative energy, extra-curricular activities aren't arbitrary.</p>

<p>Okay maybe i need to qualify my statement: I agree extracurricular activities are important, i was just merely noting their qualitative property as opposed to the other quantitative data a school uses. Personally, I routinly place in statewide math contests. I led my disfunctional school to a team state math championship. I am also in my free time a 4 sport Varsity athlete. I am President of Math Club, Vice President of NHS, and on the regular list of Student Council, ect. But am I less "interesting and bustling with creative energy" than some other applicant. It is the only thing I can't understand. Would they rather have a person who only goes to school and plays piano but plays piano on a national level. Do you understand what I meant by arbitrary SaxFreq</p>

<p>I do think EC's are important because if an applicant is able to keep up with EC's and their scholastic studies, it shows they are a dedicated student. Everyone cannot pull off all A's with 20+ hours of EC's a week. That says something about a person. </p>

<p>I also think it would be nice to know why we got deferred. How are we supposed to improve ourselves if we don't know what to improve?</p>

<p>I'd love to contribute to the discussion (as a semi-bewildered acceptee), but I just can't find any logic in who was accepted/deferred. Since I don't understand how the system works, I'm not sure how to fix it. Does that make sense?</p>

<p>just forget me, you are making the exact point i am trying to make. Shouldn't there be a method. Shouldnt admission be more predictable and understandable.</p>

<p>i dont know much but i'm *<strong><em>ed that staticsloloqouy got deferred, i thought he was into harvard for sure, and no offense, i think he is better qualified that ppl who did get in. it makes me wonder, b/c justice with his perfect scores and ec's i could still see a small, small chance of deferral. but static. that makes me *</em></strong>ed</p>


<p>When so few people are going to be accepted from the application pool, there is going to be an arbitrary quality to it. I don't think the admissions people would disagree. What if you are the fifth bassoon player whose application they read on a given day? There is no one standard which is going to make perfect logical sense to everybody. But see, the decisions don't have to make sense to you. The readers are just doing what they do. If you did not get the answer you sought, perhaps you can meditate on the "not everything is fair" life lesson. If deferred or rejected applicants insist, instead, on finding logic within the choices of any frantically overworked and overwhelmed admissions department, they are dooming themselves to positing inadequacies within their applications or, worse, their personalities. Wouldn't you rather say "sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn't" and just keep trucking?</p>

<p>Words from a 50 year old who just keeps trucking. One's other choices are actually not very savory.</p>

<p>i dont see why everyone is so shocked at justic being deferred. his academics were great, but nobody ever gets into harvard through ap scores, grades, and SATs alone.
if he didnt have any good ecs, then it was an expected deferral</p>

<p>why exactly is static so great? I might face the same fate tomorrow, but I don't think that the decision is arbitrary. I mean, he did scientific research and that's great... many students who apply to Harvard have done a high level of scientific research. That does not automatically guarantee acceptance. Personally, I would rather go to a school with athletes, scholars, writers etc. than 1600 scientific researchers.</p>

<p>he pwnz j00, su perro, j00 /\/\0/\/\, Maddox, Uncle Jesse, and Ash with the little toe of his left foot. </p>

<p>That and he has the single most amazing stats I've ever freakin' seen. And he seems to be a darn nice fellow to boot.</p>

<p>I am editing this so as not to sound so critical. These guys at Harvard are the academic equivalent of the Yankees. Their front office and scouts look at a lot of talent, and all their players are athletes. All of you are academic athletes.
But Harvard doesn't look for a team filled with power hitters or guys who can just throw frozen ropes; they look for balance. That means some power hitters, some slick fielders, some power and some finesse pitchers, and some guys who just run really really fast. Jeters are few and far between.
To some extent, your admission is a crap-shoot: what do they need to make a good team at that moment? Lots of good ballplayers don't make the Yankees, but lots go on to be all stars elsewhere.
It's just part of the business in baseball and it's part of the business in college. Don't be ashamed cause you were invited to a Yankee tryout, be proud. You'll just have to be a star elsewhere.</p>

<p>All I can say is, it's really something how in reading the posts on this message board, I didn't buy the whole crapshoot theory at all, but suddenly, it's quite believeable.</p>

<p>What I think encapsulates the disgruntled feeling is this - there are not only enough 800/800 type applicants to fill the Harvard class, there are enough diverse and well-rounded 750-800/750-800 applicants to fill the class. Arguably, a university, since it's main role is education, should prefer these to lopsided individuals with questionable academics.</p>

<p>It's frustrating to have perfect academics, or even an academic "hook," while being talented if not obsessive about many other interests - and then lose a spot to someone with middling grades and few diverse interests, who just happens to be a minority concert pianist.</p>

<p>In all fairness: I was deferred, which came as a shock to me. I don't feel comfortable posting my stats online, but I am generally strong in many fields, but I haven't found a passion (obsession?) for any single one. Personally, after a range of emotions, I'm feeling confident about RD and I will do my best to communicate better who I am to Harvard. However, I understand what card is feeling. There does seem to be an element of luck there.</p>

<p>how do you plan on communicating yourself better for RD? isnt everything pretty much set in stone?</p>

<p>thank you so much for the kind's greatly appreciated</p>

<p>Docontheroc -- I so agree with that because if they know they'll be only accepting 3-5% of the bunch, they know who is most likely to be accepted RD.</p>

<p>doc, all I can say is you do what you can. I'm certainly going to send more information wherever I can - to try and argue why I believe Harvard is the best fit for me. I was confident enough EA to think that my RD shot should also be pretty good.</p>

<p>You're angry/disgruntled because you can't quantify your chances at admission? Tell me, how can you quantify ECs? Give two points for national awards, and three for international awards? The whole idea is sort of ludicrous. Harvard, and many other selective schools, look beyond the quantative aspect of the applicants. Quantifying the qualitative defeats the purpose.</p>

<p>As a parent who's now gone through this with three children, it seems like students often look at this the wrong way by focusing on what THEY have to offer (supply) rather than what the college needs (demand). And most of the time you can't know what a college needs your particular year. This was brought home most forcefully to me a couple of years ago when a Penn admissions person said you could never know what Penn needed in a particular year. You could be a "piccolo" in a "tuba" year, for example, he said, and you would never know it.</p>

<p>Another factor students seem less aware of is the large percentage of the class at most of the Ivies reserved for athletes. William G. Bowen's two books, THE GAME OF LIFE and RECLAIMING THE GAME, provide the statistics.</p>

<p>Finally, applicants to private colleges rarely consider the possible impact of their intended major. Potential social science (econ, poli sci, etc.) and bio/premed majors apply in droves. But it gets harder every year to find students keen to study ancient Greek or Russian or many branches of engineering. Admissions officers have to make sure there are students to take less popular courses, which may mean admitting a would-be classics major and denying a potential econ major with higher raw stats. </p>

<p>A fairly typical example of the distribution of majors can be found on the Yale EA thread. Lots of social science and premed people, maybe a few more English majors and engineers than one could expect, but few humanities people and virtually no foreign language majors (and only French, Spanish, and German--no non-European languages).</p>

<p>In other words, it's not that there's anything wrong with the student or, probably, anything they can do to "fix" their profile in the next few months. It's just that the college doesn't need what they have to offer--at least not THIS year.</p>