Why do we allow college admissions offices to shape and pass judgment on our children's character?

Taking these one at a time:

  1. Accommodations for exams due to disabilities: Yes, very similar to US (see: https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/education/2019/nov/21/one-in-five-gcse-and-a-level-pupils-granted-extra-time-for-exams).
  2. Legacy and “famous” admits: No. Tony Blair’s son was turned down by Oxford while he was Prime Minister.
  3. “Points” for admissions: Yes, in a sense. Pupils from underperforming schools/locations may be given contextual offers, basically making allowances for lower grades due to poor teaching/less experience in applying for university (see: Contextualised admissions – how it works in practice | Undergraduate, Conservatoires | UCAS).

So I’m not sure what your point is? The main process difference is no legacy admissions, but more relevant is that the UK is an exam-focused educational system.

1 Like

District in Ohio had 222 valedictorians in 2015. 2 of every 10 grads. What is the point?

1 Like

That’s crazy. You can see how a handful of kids might have the same gpa, but 222? They don’t do class rank at our HS anymore and I guess I can see why now (25 kids tied for 3rd etc.)

Mum, that’s a key. Is it organic or parent enabled? Even parent enabled, it seems to make a difference with some top 10-25 universities. T10 May expect more from kids with those resources?

My nephew’s high school had 95 “honor grads” out of 152 total grads. To achieve honors designation one needed a 3.6 weighted GPA.

One other thing that the US may be an outlier in is the type of standardized testing used. In the UK and other countries, standardized testing (whether embedded in high school grading or external to high school grading) is primarily subject matter testing (analogous to the SAT subject tests and AP tests). Is the US unique in that the primary type of standardized testing used in college admissions was originally billed as an “aptitude” or “IQ” test?

What is the purpose of the “Chance Me at X, Y, and Z Colleges”? And why do we in the CC community (e.g., parents, students, etc) participate? Going back to the OP title, aren’t we too “shaping and passing judgment” on students by participating in stuff like this?

Outside of colleges that are strictly numerical on admissions, isn’t the answer on these “chance me” posts simply this: “Who knows?” The colleges themselves, along with CC and other websites, provide so much information about these colleges, shouldn’t those seeking the “chance me” be directed to that info? And shouldn’t we, as parents etc, direct them there too, rather than validating stuff like “HYP”, “HYPS”, “HYPSM”, “Ivies”, “T-20”, etc?

I don’t mean to be critical of CC or any of its posters. I am just not sure what purpose is served, especially when kids write pages about themselves in their OP (and, sometimes, stuff that is hard to believe), when asking us to “Chance me at HYPSM, other Ivies, and T-20s”. AFAIK, I’ve never participated in one of those posts, as I am no expert. On top of that, it seems a bit strange to be responding to a question like this when we all agree that no one really knows.

This seems to propagate the notion that this actually means something (i.e., the chance, the schools they are asking about, and the categorization of those schools).

On edit: maybe the balance is that a “chance me” works at a particular school level. But to request folks to “Chance me at HYP, other Ivies, Stanford, MIT, and CalTech and other T-20s” is compounding the problem of elevating schools in these false categorizations. By acquiescing in such “chance me’s” by responding, I think we need to ask ourselves are we also a potential “shaper” and “judgment passer” referenced in the OP title.


When I respond to “Chance Me” threads, it’s to point out to the kid who wants to know if she can get into Cal Tech with “tons of merit aid” that she ought to check out Missouri S&T. or the kid who wants Wesleyan (with not quite Wesleyan stats) that Muhlenberg or Skidmore are worth exploring.

That’s not passing judgment- that’s a reality check. HS kids often “fall in love” or have a dream school based on some pretty superficial characteristics-- and if the grownups in their lives don’t know about more than 5 or 10 colleges, then I think we all provide a helpful service with a redirect to a broader list.

I don’t need to be “an expert” to point out that Brandeis is a terrific place for a kid who wants an LAC vibe, but isn’t a jock/athlete, doesn’t want a heavy frat environment, and doesn’t want to be in the middle of a big city. I’m not propagating anything to suggest that Lawrence, Beloit, Rhodes, Earlham, Denison, Kenyon, might be great options for a kid who wants something akin to Williams/Amherst (the “famous” ones) but who isn’t among the top students in his/her class, but who thinks that being full-pay means they’ll be a shoo-in at Williams/Amherst (short answer- no). And I’m not “shaping” by telling a kid that Rutgers has a fantastic profile among employers even if folks in the state seem to prefer state flagships outside of NJ even if it means paying more for a lesser reputation/academics.

That’s the purpose it serves- not to predict or gaze into a crystal ball- but the reality is that most of the kids posting Chance Me need a robust list of realistic schools to fall in love with- not to be told “you might be a reach for Harvard but for sure you’ll get into Dartmouth and Columbia”.


So you’re happy to respond to a “Chance me at the Ivies”? There are a lot of those in play, even right now. It’s one thing to say “Chance me at Yale”, but an entirely different thing to ask “Chance me at HYPSM”, isn’t it?

After I wrote my original post, I edited it to say that it might work for a single school. And as you say, perhaps asking for potential schools to consider.

But “Chance me?”, particularly when the answer is who knows? There something wrong with the terminology, and there’s something wrong with lumping them all together.

I don’t like chance me threads either but most long time posters use it as an opportunity to educate students.


I think the chance me threads are helpful for encouraging kids to widen and broaden their list of colleges and to let the know not to rely on only applying to Ivy types (which are a long shot for nearly every student). As to someone’s true “chance” no one can say for sure since we aren’t looking at their applications.


But the kid who asks to be chanced at all the Ivies is saying “I think I am a stellar student and I know these schools admit stellar students so am I stellar enough?” This suggests they don’t understand how different these schools are, that stellar is only the first hurdle, and the importance of finding the right one. Nobody is telling them “be this!” Instead, folks here are suggesting some soul-searching on where they’d be best off AND reminding them to build up their match and safety list.

Lots of kids – and parents – come here with no idea of the modern college landscape and without great local guidance. I recall the head of college counseling at my son’s BS, a former AD for an extremely selective LAC, explaining how college admissions had changed since they’d gone to school. My takeaway is that even parents who succeeded at this game themselves decades ago can be totally out of touch.

I really don’t like chance me threads because it’s never quite enough info… And I hate when posters respond rudely. But a kind realignment with reality is a true kindness.


How did you guess I was one of those?! :grin:


@mynameiswhatever , me too! I left that session feeling nauseous! But it’s one of the reasons I hang out here… :wink:

1 Like

I don’t like Chance Me threads either. I get a lot of flak because I treat the OPs like adults and when one of them asks a question like - the probability of their getting into Harvard, Yale or Amherst - I take them at their word. And, since no one can possibly know the answer, I move on to the next question.

1 Like

I don’t like “Chance me…” threads either and I think they should be changed to something like “Am I a fit for…” threads. However, I’m not sure why you picked on the “Chance me” threads for the use of acronyms and Txx’s. Their uses are all over CC, certainly not limited to the “Chance me” threads. IMO, the use of these acronyms and Txx’s, not certain category of threads, is the problem.

There is a really interesting transition/migration/whatever it is that’s happened in this discussion.

The thread title questions why we allow college admissions to pass judgement on our kids…which has now changed to a discussion around parents responding to “chance me” posts in order to provide options and manage expectations for strangers. Is there really any merit to the notion that admissions officers are passing judgement, or is this thread entirely about the pressures placed on kids (by family and the system…not really the schools)?

When a high school guidance counselor suggests Rutgers or Rowan or Muhlenberg or Skidmore, they are often met with questions about “not reaching” and “settling”. As a graduate of one of those schools with good friends from all of them, I can tell you that as a parent…I wanted more. More glamour…more exclusivity…more street cred at the block party. We all complain about the process and the pressures…but most likely all found our way here looking for an edge.

I never even open “chance me” threads because I think they’re pointless… then I read this…

My cynical self will try to remember that going forward. Good way to start a week. Thanks.


I believe it’s both, conjunctively and disjunctively: (a) the categorization of vastly different schools with vastly different centers of excellence in their various majors/programs; AND/OR (b) “chancing” them within that categorization when the answer is “who knows”?

There is a lot of information that schools put out and tools like Naviance, Peterson, etc, to help students get a sense of admission criteria. “Chance me” to a single school might supplement all that extant info with the collective wisdom of CC folks.

However, the answer still is “who knows?”

And this vagary is compounded infinitesimally when it is “Chance me at the HYPSM and other Ivies”, of which there are a ton around right now.

As you say, it’s the “system”, of which the colleges and their Admissions Office are a key part. But there are many, many other parts such as family etc.

I would add to your elliptical phrase “not really JUST the schools”, IMHO.

My point is that the source of the problem lies not in the “Chance me” threads. How can we expect HS students not use these acronyms when they ask questions if we use them elsewhere?