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Does one applicant get compared to others (Admissions)?

AcquiringBiologyAcquiringBiology 6 replies1 threads New Member
edited February 2019 in University of Pennsylvania
I wonder if an applicant gets compared to another applicant. For some colleges, I am pretty sure that an application is read by two people, then gets passed onto a regional-representing committee, and lastly to a committee that makes the final decision of acceptance, denial, waitlist, etc. University of Pennsylvania's admission process goes like this. If you think about it, where is the comparison to other applicants? How do admission officers have enough time to compare one application to the other thousands? Do applicants even get compared? These questions make me believe that applications do not get compared to others around you. I simply think that committees just look at your own application and determine the decision. If anyone has another theory, may you able to explain it? Please answer if you know the answer to my question; I am just curious.

Class of 2024....(hopefully)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Seriously though, I really wonder if there are any comparisons.
edited February 2019
7 replies
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Replies to: Does one applicant get compared to others (Admissions)?

  • nigelunonigeluno 102 replies8 threads Junior Member
    You are always being compared to other students across all levels; because they are creating the future of their Universities; AOs always wants the brightest students with the most potential. Each year, the bar to be qualified as one of these students is raised higher and higher, and can only be determined based on the qualifications of applicants for that year. You will not only be compared to the general applicant pool, but also to applicants within your region all the way up to the applicants who make it to the final committee.

    Don't stress about this. The process will be similar for most other competitive universities you apply to. There will undoubtedly be applicants with better qualification than you, me, and the smartest people on this forum; don't let that discourage you from applying and putting your best foot forward!
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  • emptynesteryetemptynesteryet 205 replies4 threads Junior Member
    I think this happens more in smaller not as competitive schools. Say 150-250 ranked.

    When ivies and T20 schools literally spent a total amont of time 5-10 minutes on a whole app 2 reads...there is no time for comparison.

    Then NEXT app.

    Less competitive schools are much more personal and compare imo.


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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 5534 replies93 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    Some college AOs will read all apps from a given high school back-to-back, you can be assured comparisons are being made.
    edited February 2019
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1670 replies8 threads Senior Member
    I don't have firsthand knowledge of AO's but I have been very involved with recruiting and hiring for a large law firm and a large IB which have the same dynamic of filling a few spots from an abundance of highly qualified candidates. We were constantly force ranking every applicant by need/position, whether to fly them back or make them an offer. You have to do that when you have more qualified applicants than spaces.

    I think colleges with large applicant pools have to be constantly making comparisons as they try to assemble their optimal class with various buckets of attributes. Maybe there is an initial cut of applicants clearly not qualified based on objective measures such as grades, test scores and rigor of classes. But as the first readers go through the remaining app's they are either consciously or subconsciously sorting the remaining pool to decide which ones move forward. While I suspect there is no hard floor or ceiling, there will be some range or cut-off. As the funnel gets narrower and the buckets more defined, the comparisons I suspect get sharper, especially as they get to all the "on the fence" candidates.
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  • AcquiringBiologyAcquiringBiology 6 replies1 threads New Member
    @BKSquared I see what you are saying; however I don't believe there is some range or cut-off. As you know applicants with 1600s have been denied, while applicants less than or equal to 1420 have been accepted. It really is hard to know how they compare. I am not saying you are wrong but a cut-off seems illogical due to evidence. As you know ECs, essays, recommendations, etc. can enhance an application. How do they compare though? A person with a 1420 with a fantastic essay may get accepted while the one with a 1550 with a bad GPA may be rejected. See the difference. It is too hard to find an idea on how applicants get compared.
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  • AcquiringBiologyAcquiringBiology 6 replies1 threads New Member
    edited February 2019
    @nigeluno @Mwfan1921 @emptynesteryet @BKSquared Thanks for your answers.
    edited February 2019
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1670 replies8 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    Comparison of course is not by running a simple formula using scores, gpa or other stats. I would say though that in the initial cut, it would be hard if not impossible for someone with an Academic Index (the formula using gpa and test scores for Ivy athletic recruits) below 176 (minimum for athletes, roughly a 3.0 UWGPA and 1200 SAT) to make the cut at highly selective schools The cut off is likely higher for other applicants, especially unhooked ones.

    There are many reasons why a "1600" get's rejected and a "1400" gets in. The 1600 may have one or more of a low gpa, low rigor of classes, no quality EC's of note, lukewarm LoR's, poorly written and expressed essays and the 1400 may have had stellar all of those things. As outsiders, we can't compare because we can't see a lot of that information that the AO has. Now are you compared individually against every applicant, of course not, but by definition, there has to be a relative comparison of you against a pool of applicants in your bucket(s) because the bucket sizes are not unlimited. I also suspect when the Committees get down to those on the fence, individual comparisons are made with decisions being made very subjectively -- why someone gets into Harvard but is rejected by Stanford and Brown, and another person is accepted by Stanford and is rejected by Harvard and Penn.
    edited February 2019
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