The ethics of college chances calculators from companies & a warning

I’ve seen many ads for these “college chance calculators” from various companies, all who end up trying to upsell the student at the end. The issue is that these calculators tend to grossly overestimate student’s chances. What comes with this is that I have seen students at my school grossly overestimate their chances at getting into a college, & not apply to real safeties because they think they have safeties that aren’t really safe.

For example, collegevine tells me that I have a 22-33% chance of getting into Harvard! Every ivy is apparently a hard match, not a reach for me! It tells me I have almost a 50% chance at Cornell. As for safeties? According to collegevine I can apply to Boston College & be fine!

According to Crimson’s calculator, my safeties include OOS admission to UT Austin, and my matches include UCLA, Cal, USC, Georgetown & Emory.

There are many more I went through as freshman that I don’t remember, but my point is that these calculators very much mislead students, & at their worst can lead to a student not getting in anywhere because they didn’t apply to actual safeties. Most people on here know better, but I think that it’s almost unethical to give misleading information to students, especially when where they go to college determines the rest of their life. It also inflates student’s perceptions of their chances. I know I don’t have the chances these companies throw at me, but that’s not true for the majority of students using these tools.

Furthermore, these companies have robust advertising campaigns that target high school students, pushing them to use these tools. The majority of the population applying to college may see these ads & use these tools to determine their future. Especially for students where guidance offices are overbooked, these tools seem on the surface like great alternatives.

My point more than anything is that these admissions companies should re-tool their algorithms to be realistic, but also that they can be predatory & actually lead to bad outcomes for students. I doubt posting here will do anything but I did want to rant & perhaps warn a few parents/students.

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