What should be (or not be) in this year's Chance Me template

Continuing the discussion from "Asian" in Chance Me and similar threads:

I got feedback about the Chance Me template. In particular, it seems prompting users for race might not be useful and encourages unhelpful tangents. While we are at it, I’d like consider other changes we might want to make to the template. Has anything changed in the last year and half that we haven’t accounted for?

For reference, the current template is:


Demographics

  • US domestic (US citizen or permanent resident) or international student
  • State/Location of residency: (state is important if you apply to any state universities)
  • Type of high school (current college for transfers):
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity (optional):
  • Other special factors (first generation to college, legacy, athlete, etc.):

Intended Major(s)

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA:
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system):
  • College GPA (for transfers):
  • Class Rank:
  • ACT/SAT Scores:

Coursework
(AP/IB/Dual Enrollment classes, AP/IB scores for high school; also include level of math and foreign language reached and any unusual academic electives; for transfers, describe your college courses and preparation for your intended major(s))

Awards

Extracurriculars
(Include leadership, summer activities, competitions, volunteering, and work experience)

Essays/LORs/Other
(Optionally, guess how strong these are and include any other relevant information or circumstances.)

Cost Constraints / Budget
(High school students: please get a budget from your parents and use the Net Price Calculators on the web sites of colleges of interest.)

Schools
(List of colleges by your initial chance estimate; designate if applying ED/EA/RD; if a scholarship is necessary for affordability, indicate that you are aiming for a scholarship and use the scholarship chance to estimate it into the appropriate group below)

  • Safety (certain admission and affordability)
  • Likely (would be possible, but very unlikely or surprising, for it not to admit or be affordable)
  • Match
  • Reach
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Thanks for following up on the suggestion in the “Asian” thread. I think I am in favor of getting rid of the “Gender/Race/Ethnicity” point. If posters want to include that info, they could presumably include it under the “other special factors” heading. I also have one other minor comment - on the very first bullet point, I think it might be better to say simply "(1) US citizen or permanent resident or (2) international student, " and delete the reference to “domestic”. For kids who are US citizens attending high school overseas (and their parents), this issue can actually be quite confusing until they figure out it’s only kids who are not US citizens or permanent residents who are treated as “international” for admission purposes.

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I absolutely think this information is important and should be included. Yes, sometimes users get distracted by it. As a moderator, I have to say I rarely get notices to intervene in discussion about race in the chances forum. I’m struggling to think of a time this has happened, actually.

But as long as it remains a separate question in the common app, it will continue to be considered. Don’t think for one second that colleges are not absolutely factoring in this info. Every school trying to maintain its gender balance is using this information. Every school trying to increase diversity is using this information. It’s not our place to ignore that this is reality.

As an added example, an African American student not disclosing his race at, say, Colby College, is failing to disclose a major hook. A Hispanic female applying to MIT is certainly going to benefit from adding that information. When people are asking for Chances, that info is very important to consider. Facts are facts: it is currently the case at colleges that race and gender are still considered so we should consider it too if our goal is to provide helpful information.

It already says “optional” so I don’t see the issue. Maybe none of us LIKE this reality, but that doesn’t make the information uneeded. Perhaps a better option is to state clearly at the top of the chances forum that digressing into side conversations of race and gender are not allowed in the Chances forum and that such posts are subject to removal. As a user and a moderator, that’s what I personally would prefer.

Frankly, excluding this information is going to result in less helpful guidance for people looking for advice on creating college lists or looking for Chances. I’d argue that knowing someone’s race and gender is more important than knowing what state they are from. If a kid says they are from rural Mississippi, we are probably making assumptions about their quality of education and their SES. But we would want to know that the student is from rural Mississippi because that helps us give better advice. Where do we draw the line?

90% of the people coming to this site are interested in colleges that use holistic admissions to some degree. As long as US colleges, and especially the most selective ones, use holistic admissions, we need as much information as possible. That includes information about race and gender. If someone doesn’t want to provide that information, so be it. But discouraging users from providing that information is a big mistake IMO.

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Hi Linda. I agree that as long as race is considered by colleges it is a data point that should be considered here in the chancing forums. However, the observation by many posters (including myself) in the thread Jon referenced was that Asian-American applicants seem to think they are particularly disadvantaged in admissions - more so than unhooked White applicants.

One of the suggestions was to ask chance-me posters if they belonged to an underrepresented ethnic group rather than ask their race. Therefore, the African-American and Hispanic applicants in your example would check off that box, but so also a FG/LI Hmong-American (the thinking was, it doesn’t make sense to treat him/her the same as an upper middle class Indian/Chinese-American although they are all “Asians”).

The idea is to have unhooked Asian-American applicants understand that they’re simply competing in the “unhooked” category and not being further penalized for being Asian.

Anyway those were some takeaways from that thread, but should be vetted by those more familiar with how admission offices view applicants.

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I understand the idea, but is this a case of barking up the wrong tree? This is a problem with the Common App. We can only work within their confines. I have already made clear that those confines are ludicrous. But there they are. I won’t get sidetracked into the reasons why those confines are ludicrous, because there’s already a thread on that.

Perhaps we can suggest to Asian students that they could clarify their ethnicity using the additional information section of the Common App. Or, we advise them to leave the box blank on the common app.

This is a problem with Common App and not College Confidential. If we want to best advise students, we need as much information as they want to share. If they choose not to share it, so be it.

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I’m not up to speed on the other thread, but I don’t think anyone can say this with certainty, at least for schools that aren’t race blind. The Harvard data show a penalty for Asians in acceptance rate and personal rating, no?

I agree with this. It is important to know if a student is URM and/or FGLI when categorizing schools. Note I say ‘categorizing’ schools, not ‘chancing’…generally when I choose to participate in a chance me thread, I start off by saying “I can’t chance you.”

I strongly dislike the term ‘chancing’ because no one CC can accurately ‘chance’ students. No matter the info we get from the posters, that still leaves us completely blind to critical information (at holistic schools) like essays, LoRs, counselor report/rec, strength of high school, etc.

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I think the question has value in that this sometimes provides some good college choices that might not otherwise be considered. Many chances posters also want suggestions. For example, some colleges are very underrepresented in some places. Some students might consider a HBCU. For some minority students, a somewhat lower standardized test score won’t impact chances as much.

Maybe make “optional” bold face.

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Yes, simple is probably better.

Something else to consider. Many Asian students are concerned that their chances are lessened by being Asian. However, very often, the chance posts are focused on the most selective schools. We can encourage these students to look at other schools that would love to have them on campus. Maybe LACs, or colleges that fall outside the top ranked ones.

There are better ways to address this issue than having students leave out crucial information.

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The veteran posters here spend a LOT of time suggesting colleges only to discover- late in the thread- that virtually none of the options are affordable.

I think we need to move Budget to the top, and to clarify “This is my parents budget and this is what the NPC shows”. The kids who think they are getting a full ride when the maximum merit award is 5K (or the college typically Gaps for need based money) seem to chew up a lot of energy on CC!

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First off, I would break these down into three separate categories. I would also make it mandatory.

I would also suggest using the exact options on the Common App for all three categories

  • Other special factors (first generation to college, legacy, athlete, etc.):

I guess these are “hooks”. Are these all of them?

More generally and in terms of the responses CCers make, is the Harvard litigation dispositive of the “Asian penalty” for all top schools? Are we able to make that conclusion?

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Could we add URM to hooks?

Although I see Linda’s point that for some schools knowing gender and race could help posters with suggestion.

I’m also in favor of moving cost constraints/budget to the very top of the template. Maybe even with a disclaimer that we can’t chance or make recommendations without knowing the budget.

Maybe even with a disclaimer of: "

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In looking at these hooks, shouldn’t they also be more specific? For example, on athletes, should it be “recruited athlete”? Otherwise, isn’t the usual advice that it’s “just” an EC, and not a hook.

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Maybe it would help to have some guidance in the Chance Me template regarding the subject line of the post, specifically instructing posters to include the most important factors in the subject line, such as budget, primary academic stats, and desired major?

Ethnicity is a factor in admissions at many schools, but is probably not an important enough factor to go in the subject line, unless the student is URM.

Although it’s not really possible to precisely “chance” students, there is a lot of value in helping students come up with a balanced list of colleges that fit their budget and any other requirements that they have.

The problem is that many posters seem to believe that race / ethnicity is the most important applicant characteristic (since it is much more commonly listed on thread titles than academic achievements), even though it is unlikely to (for example) move a reach college (that considers it) to the match, likely, or safety category. Legacy, FG, LI are also examples where there is a tendency to exaggerate the importance at colleges that consider them.

But is that necessarily contingent on only the student’s race / ethnicity? It seems to be a common assumption around here that HBCUs are not worth mentioning to non-Black students, although the analogous situation with HWCUs (that still have few non-White students) is not treated similarly with respect to non-White students.

Agree with moving cost constraints / budget to the top of the template.

Even for URMs, it is generally less important than budget, academic stats / achievements, and desired major.

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Agree, looking at Scoir at my son’s top academic private the outliers are athletes (many) and significant donors (few). Generally legacies and URMs have stats comparable to everyone else who gets admitted (not suggesting it doesn’t give a boost, I am sure sometimes it does in comparing comparable students, but it doesn’t seem to get someone in who otherwise would clearly not have gotten in the way being an athlete or major donor does). Also add identified gender if different to the sex line? Maybe would get fewer suggestions of Alabama lol.

Ok, I don’t have enough experience to know about that. I agree people often seem to inflate the importance of URM.

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Didn’t know scoir has that breakdown. Nice!
Unfortunately Naviance doesn’t (at least not the version my D’s school used).

Good to be inclusive, but I wonder if it makes a difference for admissions? I don’t know - I’m asking, to learn. More generally, does being LGBTQ+ provide a boost or is it neutral for admissions? I’ve been told it’s the latter but would like to learn from those more knowledgeable on this topic than me.

. :grinning:

I would change this to the following, based on the frequency of certain types of followup questions based on incomplete information:

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA (add semesters of A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0 and divide by the number of grades):
  • Weighted HS GPA (specify the weighting system because those outside your high school will not know what it means otherwise; include UC-recalculated HS GPAs if applying to UCs):
  • College GPA (for transfer students or college courses taken while in high school):
  • Class Rank:
  • ACT/SAT Scores:
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Agree with @Lindagaf that as long as colleges consider race in holistic admissions, it is a factor that is important enough to prompt the posters to volunteer and perhaps add a prompt that the poster can add a subgroup/circumstances if they wish.

In Other Special Factors, agree adding “recruited” to athlete is important. I would also add “low income” using a figure of less than $65,000 household income as a cutoff. This can lead to suggestions on considering Questbridge, Pell and reminding them to use the net price calculator for seemingly expensive schools who offer good aid. Note that if SCOTUS rules against affirmative action, colleges will probably fall back to SES status as a way to maintain diversity.

EC’s: we often get a long laundry list of activities. A prompt along the lines “describe any notable achievements or other factors that may indicate the quality of your participation” may give us more insights. Also may get posters to think more about quality over quantity.

Essays/LORs/Other. Always thought self assessment of essays useless. No one is shooting for a mediocre essay. For LORs a prompt on the relationship with the teacher and the subject that the teacher teaches may be useful in situations where the poster wants to use a non-core teacher or a teacher from freshmen or even sophomore year.

Agree Costs should be higher up.

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I would like to see a template for the subject that doesn’t include race. I don’t need to see the entire post (ex. https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/t/match-my-s23-good-but-not-great-scores-rigor-recs-below-avg-ecs-homeschool) in the subject and I don’t need a super vague subject that almost feels like click bait (ex.https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/t/chance-me-on-my-chances)

Would it be possible to include a link to how to calculate a UC/CSU GPA for those applying to UCs and CSUs? GPA requirement | UC Admissions is the official page but GPA Calculator for the University of California – RogerHub gives all three GPAs (unweighted, capped and uncapped).

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