How do adcoms decide between near-identical applicants?

<p>There are several people in my graduating class who have near-identical grades (3.8-4.0), class ranks (top 10%), and test scores (2350+) as I do. We all have similar extracurricular interests as well: FBLA/DECA, journalism/writing, and community service. </p>

<p>However, we all have different accomplishments in each area. </p>

<p>For example, for FBLA/DECA, one guy holds a state officer position, another is a two-time national champion, another founded a statewide campaign, and yet another has published economics research.</p>

<p>The problem is, we all plan to ED to Penn (Wharton).</p>

<p>Traditionally, Penn has accepted at most one applicant from our school. However, my graduating class is slightly more competitive (grade and extracurricular-wise) than that of previous years. Still, it seems unlikely that Penn would break the mold and accept all of us.</p>

<p>None of us have "hooks."</p>

<p>How then, would the admissions committee decide whom to accept? Any insight appreciated. Thank you :)</p>

<p>Have you looked at the Naviance for Penn applicants from your high school?</p>

<p>take a look at Penn's Common data set information. The last time I checked I remember Penn was especially ranking obsessed- i.e. if you were #1 in your class you were far more likely to get in than if you were #5.
Are all of you able to pay full tuition? or does someone need FA in order to afford Penn? That may be another factor that could break the tie and determine who gets in, or not.</p>

<p>personal statement and recommendations.</p>

<p>svmom - Unfortunately, my school does not use Naviance, though I do know the three Wharton acceptees from our school for the past three years. All of them had stats at or below our stats. In many cases, our stats are even higher (higher SAT + SAT II's, more AP/IB taken) and we are more involved in our extracurriculars.</p>

<p>menloparkmom - Hmmm, good point. My rank is lower than the others' (though we are pretty much consecutively ranked), although I would say my extracurriculars are slightly less mundane (e.g. instead of cookie-cutter officer positions, I started a statewide initiative that received $3000+ in funding.)</p>

<p>We are all Asian and will not need FA; no hooks to tip the playing field.</p>

<p>
[quote]
personal statement and recommendations.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>qialah - In this case, would I be better off getting "guidance" from a private college counselor? Perhaps the private counselor would know how to help my application stand out? :/ </p>

<p>I know that 3/4 of my classmates (with similar academic/EC profiles) are getting outside help...though I never felt like I needed it, given the resources available through CC and books.</p>

<p>It will probably come down to essays and other factors. Did you do a summer program with Penn?</p>

<p>just dont make the mistake of pinning your hopes on Penn. be sure to cast a wide net and also apply at colleges that dont receive boatloads of apps from your school or from students like you-asian, male.</p>

<p>The female applicants will have a leg up at Wharton.</p>

<p>How? Very carefully. And then, somewhat randomly.</p>

<p>Behind</a> The Scenes: How Do You Get Into Amherst? : NPR</p>