How to improve the chances of chances threads?

<p>Hi, everyone, </p>

<p>I'm wondering what tips you have for students who are posting "What are my chances?" threads. What kind of information helps a student get a helpful answer? How much information is TOO MUCH information? (Some students later regret posting personal information that allows them to be identified in real life.) What makes a chances thread interesting to read? What makes a chances thread funny and encouraging? What makes a good reply to a chances thread? </p>

<p>I figure you regular readers of this forum have a lot of good ideas on this subject. Sharing with the new participants may help everyone enjoy the threads more. </p>

<p>P.S. Good luck to all of you applying this year. Please let us know whether or not you exceeded the chances predictions you received in replies to your own threads.</p>

<p>Too much information is listing every single club you've ever joined or attended. Only note clubs if you're an officer.</p>

<p>I don't reply to too many "Chance Me" threads, but the things that make me more likely to do so are...</p>

<ul>
<li><p>Neatness. Bullet points, sections, and bold headings. It makes the info so much easier to digest. On the flip side, a totally unformatted "laundry list" is usually too daunting to deal with. </p></li>
<li><p>Descriptions. Just because everyone in your school knows what and how great the "XYZ Club" is doesn't mean that we will. If something is particular to your school/state/region, just include a very brief description (i.e. "Service club").</p></li>
<li><p>Discernment re: what you list. Don't go back to elementary school. Don't include all kinds of "almosts" or would've/could've/should've stuff that won't appear in your application or your recommendations ("I was invited to ______ but I decided not to go," or "I would have gotten a B+ instead of a B but I was sick for the second test and even though I talked to the teacher..."). If you think it might be addressed in your application, of course, do note it. The flip side to this is not including enough. Give more than your total SAT and "The usual stuff...some clubs, some service, y'know." NOTE: I slightly disagree with the above post. I say list it if it will appear on your applications, which might mean that it fits in with some other interests, you're heavily involved, it just looks good, it shows another side of you, or whatever, but not necessarily that you're an officer.</p></li>
<li><p>This could be particular to me, but I want a reason behind your post! Very often, chance threads look like they're posted for no other reason than ego-boosts or nerve-calmers (I'm more sympathetic to the latter than the former). But if students are as intelligent as their accomplishments would suggest, I tend to wonder why they can't just take their own numbers, compare them to school medians, and come to their own conclusions. The chance threads that catch my eye are those in which posters recognize this fact and give a bit deeper reason behind their post: "I know I have kind of a weird situation since _______. Part of what I'm wondering is whether anyone has any anecdotal experience with how these schools might react"; "I know that my numbers are all pretty average for these schools and I'm really hoping that my EC's will give me an edge, but I'm not sure which schools will really look past numbers."</p></li>
</ul>

<p>Finally, and again, I might just be weird in this...</p>

<ul>
<li>Attitude. You're opening yourself up to a lot with these threads. If someone responds negatively or critically, ignore the person, move it to a PM, or try to respond politely. If you're not getting the responses you want, don't get mad at posters and then reveal some "secret weapon" to your application (for some reason, this seems to happen rather often..."You're all wrong and I can't believe you're not even calling me a match. What I forgot to say was that I'm a triple legacy at every school!"). Don't treat people like it's their duty to respond with the answers you want, or even to respond at all. Feel free to bump yourself, but not infinitely. Of course, the flip side to this is that I think some respondents also need to be more conscious of their attitudes and of the fact that there's actually a 17 year old on the other end of the post...</li>
</ul>

<p>So I guess that those are what I consider the "do's": be neat, be descriptive where necessary, use good judgment, let us know you want more than an ego-boost, and be considerate of other posters. Last but not least, a few random suggestions:</p>

<ul>
<li><p>Please don't post these threads before the end of your junior year. If you do, they should be more along the lines of "Hey, am I heading in the right direction?" threads. It's just not reasonable to say "I'm a sophomore, but assuming I take all AP's for the next two years and get straight A's, and assuming I get 2200+ on my SAT..."</p></li>
<li><p>Please let us know if you're open to suggestions of other schools, activities, suggestions, or whatever. If so, say something brief about what you're looking for. If all you want are chances, that's fine, too.</p></li>
</ul>

<p>I really don't mind chance threads when I feel that posters have a purpose and are actually seeking advice. Unfortunately, not too many of them leave me with this impression. Still, I know it's a tough time to go through--lots of stress. Good luck to all :)</p>

<p>Thanks for the helpful replies. There is a lot of good advice here.</p>

<p>don't come off as conceited (OP) or condescending (repliers)
I generally don't read chance me's by juniors.
If you chance someone, don't put yourself into it/use it as a chance to brag about yourself. "well, consider I'm applying and got a 2300, you're 2200 will hurt"</p>

<p>Great idea for a thread, tokenadult, as always. =)</p>

<p>This is what I like to see:
-title -- in the title of the thread, don't put the hackneyed "chance me!" or any other sort of gimmick. Try to put some the schools you're applying to. Group them if you have to. Example: "UCB, UCLA, UCD, UCI" or "HYPS + NU" or "CUNY, SUNY" or something that tells the reader which schools you're generally applying to. If they can't fit or be grouped, put your top choices.</p>

<p>-colleges you're applying to -- they need to be first. Also, don't post chances threads until you've narrowed it down to at most 10. If you want to "test the waters," don't waste people's time and put US News 1-30.</p>

<p>-Unweighted GPA (4-point scale)</p>

<p>-Weighted GPA (5-point scale) -- don't use your school's weighting system</p>

<p>-UC GPA (if you're applying to UCs) -- see this:</p>

<p>CaliforniaColleges.edu</a> - Calculating Your GPA</p>

<p>-# of AP/IB/honors courses</p>

<p>-class rank/size</p>

<p>-SAT/ACT scores -- put the highest single-sitting score, the superscored SAT, and the composite of each (I hate adding it up in my head)</p>

<p>-SAT II scores</p>

<p>-AP scores, past and planned exams (only if they're going on the application)</p>

<p>-ECs -- put your principal ECs, not every single thing you've been involved in, especially not the ones that aren't going on the application. Put the years involved, note any leadership positions, and write a short explanation if it isn't self-explanatory. Don't use abbreviations. Arrange from most to least important to you.</p>

<p>-employment -- years involved, nature of the work, what you've done with the earnings</p>

<p>-honors/awards -- here's a way of differentiating them from ECs: an EC is something you do habitually as an activity (an organization at school, or even something you just do yourself); an honor/award is something that you get at one single time (though you may have received it multiple times) and that demonstrates something about you -- academic or athletic achievement, etc. Arrange from most to least important to you (this does not mean most to least significant or impressive, though).</p>

<p>-short explanation on recs/essays</p>

<p>-additional information</p>

<p>For the form:</p>

<p>Separate each section by bold or underlined headings. Use bullets for the items within the section.</p>

<p>From all the above, that's basically what your resume should look like when you give it to teachers, etc. for recommendations.</p>

<p>Student615 gives excellent advice.</p>

<p>I think the most important thing people can highlight the things they feel are going to help them the most and the places they feel they are weak. Don't make the replier hunt for these disparities.</p>

<p>Personally I felt that after reading a few other chances threads I could objectively chance myself and I didn't need to make one. Also, I didn't want to take a chance about being identifiable by my thread.</p>

<p>Also, if you have a 4.0, 2300+ SAT, and a slew of extracurriculars, you don't need a chances thread-- you know you have a decent shot anywhere.</p>

<p>Thanks for the further comments. This forum will be more useful for the students who follow these tips.</p>

<p>Right on, faustarp.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Also, if you have a 4.0, 2300+ SAT, and a slew of extracurriculars, you don't need a chances thread-- you know you have a decent shot anywhere.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>So true. In many cases, the type of schools that these students are applying to have unpredictable admissions anyway. Unless circumstances are exceptional or you're looking for advice on your list, there's just no point. I do think it's fine for a student with high stats like these to ask for advice or suggestions, i.e. "I love my safety, but I'm overqualified and I know that some schools tend to dislike this. Does anyone know if this school has a reputation for doing so, or have suggestions of similar safety schools?" That's no problem in my eyes, but "I have a good GPA, good scores, and good other stuff. Can you chance me for every Ivy? ...bump...bump...bump" is not going to garner a lot of helpful info.</p>

<p>Finally, I originally neglected the OP's question about what makes a good reply to a chances thread. A few thoughts:</p>

<ul>
<li><p>Be considerate and polite. Be honest, but be reasonable. Remember that there's someone (a 16-18 year old, at that) on the other end of the thread. If something reads strangely, try to give the benefit of the doubt and ask for clarification.</p></li>
<li><p>When possible, expand on your reply (either after each prediction or just once overall) rather than leaving it at simply "accepted/rejected" or "safety/match/reach." Is there a particular weakness in the applicant's profile that makes you think every school will be a reach? Is there something the applicant might be able to do or re-frame in order to better her chances? Is the applicant lacking a true safety, or could she be shooting higher? </p></li>
<li><p>Don't hesitate to address the positive!</p></li>
<li><p>Consider saying a little something about where your opinions are coming from. It could be as simple as prefacing your predictions with "Based on numbers alone..." or it could be more anecdotal, like "I used the same safety, but was rejected even with high stats. I don't know if they have a reputation for this, but be careful." </p></li>
<li><p>Pet peeve here: please don't write out "REJECTED" in all caps (as in "School A: Probably accepted; School B: Accepted; School C: REJECTED). It's just not nice.</p></li>
</ul>

<p>Yes, being nice always helps the replies.</p>

<p>I absolutely agree with the posters about "hypothetical" situations.</p>

<p>The other reasons why I don't read "Chance Me!" threads is that there is just TOO much stuff to digest- honestly, try to put down things that truly makes you stand out- leadership, employment, special honors/awards, passions, etc. </p>

<p>I don't like to see a laundry list of APs- I don't want to know every single AP you've taken but if you're strong in a particular area and major in that- list any relevant APs (You want to major in English, I expect to see AP Lit, and/or AP Language) so I know that you're going in the right direction. But at least list how many APs you've taken and perhaps if you know, how many your school offers.</p>

<p>Don't need to say "GREAT recommendations"- we all konw how fabulous you are so we'll assume that your teachers know how great you are and as discussed in another thread elsewhere, they're not AS important as your transcript and SAT/ACT scores.</p>

<p>Thanks for the thread- if posters can follow some of the suggestions, I'd be happy to actually read them :)</p>

<p>student615 is completely right. dont do chances unless you have TAKEN the SATs or ACTs</p>

<p>Tell the same story in your chances thread that you want the admins to see. Give the GPA, weighted and unweighted. Tell us the level of difficulty of your courses. Tell us what you are taking senior year. Synthesize your activities. List your awards succintly. Then summarize - if your reaches accept you, why? Why will they do that?</p>

<p>Then we can help you assess your understanding.</p>

<p>exactly, this will help</p>

<p>Another suggestion for posters is to give the selectivity of your high school, as well as how other students from that high school do. By this, I mean that those who respond to chances threads ought to have some idea of the context of your high school.</p>

<p>I'll go out on a limb here and suggest that chances threads for the schools that get the most posts on this website are a waste of time. The Ivies, the "elite" LACs and some of the other "top" universities all have many more qualified applicants than they can possibly accept. While GPA, number of APs, test scores and a list of ECs does give some idea of the applicant's profile, there is a lot of subjectivity in the admissions offices' decisions that just cannot be predicted. For the most part, posters who ask about their chances are asking other high school or college students. I find it amusing for lack of a better word when I see other students chancing a person as a 50/50 or a rejected, or even a definite admit. If they knew someone's chances, they'd be admissions officers! I think this site would be much more helpful if people focused less on the chances threads and more on some of the other aspects of the admissions process or on actual student's experiences with a particular school.</p>

<p>What about essays? I mean, they're so important and never EVER mentioned.</p>

<p>I know people never follow this, but don't do a chance thread after apps are due everywhere and its just waiting time. It will just make you nervous and it's too late to apply to more safeties and matches</p>

<p>I think kyledavid80 gave the best summary. </p>

<p>The six other things I would suggest are:</p>

<p>(1) that the poster be receptive to the replies;--since if we say we don't think you can get into a school, it is not because we hate you or feel like being rude that day, but rather because it is our intent to tell you the truth, suggest how you might possibly improve your chances, and may wish to suggest a more appropriate school for you where your chances of acceptance are better; </p>

<p>(2) if you aren't chanced imediately, don't bump the post twenty times and insult us for not telling you your chances at the University of Southern Missouri Technical State in Springfield County, MO. It is just possible that (a) we've never heard of the school you asked about, or (b) we don't know what the criteria is for acceptance are at the school--and therefore prefer not to post rather than guess at what your chances may possibly be,</p>

<p>(3) if you are applying for a school where legacy matters, let us know if you qualify as a legacy, (and if you don't know if it matters, just tell us where you are a legacy--where your parents--or, in some cases, siblings went/are going to school); </p>

<p>(4) if you are the first in your family to attend college, tell us; </p>

<p>(5) if you are low income or a URM (under-represented minority), then let us know that, since we can then put your accomplishments in context--which allows us to better estimate your chances; and</p>

<p>(6) if your parents work at the school, tell us that.</p>

<p>Thanks,</p>