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How to improve the chances of chances threads?

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Replies to: How to improve the chances of chances threads?

  • tokenadulttokenadult 15970 replies1501 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Lots of interesting replies. I particularly like the idea of the student thinking about the overall story he is telling about himself in his application--that should show up in the chances thread too.

    Indeed, this should be a slow time of year for chances threads. Any senior by this date has already submitted most or all the applications that will be timely. It's a little early for juniors to know their profile. Sophomores and freshmen have better things to do with their time than to post speculative chances threads.
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  • poignantpianist1poignantpianist1 427 replies2 threadsRegistered User Member
    "Too much information is listing every single club you've ever joined or attended. Only note clubs if you're an officer."

    or if you've made significant contributions to a particular organization
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  • gandhijr23gandhijr23 17 replies4 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I think the people assessing and applicant's chances have to be cautious and prudent of the judgment given. Just because and applicant has a phenomenal SAT score or alumni legacy doesn't mean he/she is getting in. Carefully assess the situation from a pretty all around view point.
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  • FellowCCViewerFellowCCViewer 3666 replies111 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I find that the chance threads that last have a catchy title. But please don't make it "I'm applying to HYPSMC with a 1.2 GPA" when you really have a 4.0.
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  • Observer1Observer1 8 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Chances threads burn me up, because they are pointless. Either you have privileged information about a school's admissions practices, in which case they probably don't want you posting here (unless you're duly recognized, and I doubt you would participate in chances threads), or you don't have any privileged information, in which case your answers are worthless or even counterproductive. A lot would be gained, and nothing would be lost (except for site traffic), if chances threads were eliminated.
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  • kyledavid80kyledavid80 8053 replies40 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    A lot would be gained ... if chances threads were eliminated.

    Yup, like anxiety and depression.

    (The chances forum isn't my favorite one, but it serves a clear purpose and is helpful to a lot of students.)
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  • CountingDownCountingDown 13441 replies110 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Here's my problem with chances threads: there is SO much that a prospective applicant may well leave off the thread. There is a lot of information that would make it easy to connect the dots if it were disclosed in a chances thread. Think Venn diagrams: the intersection of Award X with Award Y, with School X as a safety and Z as an intended major, the sequence of APs exams taken, even one's SAT scores (if it's a remarkable score and there aren't many others at one's school similarly situated). It's just not that hard.

    In addition, for obvious reasons, it's not a good idea to post essays. That component is a huge unknown to those online posters who are being asked to evaluate a student's chances -- I couldn't begin to assess someone's chances without reading essays as part of the process.

    If one wants to get a serious look-see by someone who knows the deal with admissions, get Dave Berry of CC to do the $89 StatsEval. It's a safe place to disclose the info you don't want to (and probably shouldn't) post online. We did this last summer and got some useful feedback.
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  • 2boysima2boysima 1737 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Lots of good suggestions. Just want to add that I'm impressed with the seriousness and level of thought reflected in many the responses to the OP.
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  • CalcruzerCalcruzer 4756 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Observer 1 wrote: "Chances threads burn me up, because they are pointless. Either you have privileged information about a school's admissions practices, in which case they probably don't want you posting here (unless you're duly recognized, and I doubt you would participate in chances threads), or you don't have any privileged information, in which case your answers are worthless or even counterproductive. A lot would be gained, and nothing would be lost (except for site traffic), if chances threads were eliminated."

    However, it's not that difficult to get "privileged information" not known by the common person who asks for chances. The average high school junior (the normal "chances" poster) generally doesn't know whether it is more difficult to get into UC Davis or Wisconsin or Georgetown or Stanford or Rice or the University of Florida;--whereas there are quite a few people who normally reply to these posts that knows the details on each school quite well.

    A few examples might be in order: let me ask the reader the following:
    1. Which of the schools above give greater preference to in-state verus out-of-state?
    2. Which schools on the list above consider freshman grades and which ones don't?
    3.Which schools have specific departments that are much more difficult to get into than other departments at the same school?
    4. Which schools consider music and athletics extensively in granting admissions to possibly "gifted" students in these fields?
    5. Which schools are the most expensive of the above?
    6. Which ones have the highest GPA overall of the students (it's not what you expect, by the way)?
    7. What are the average SAT scores for each school?
    8. Which school or school offers scholarships to internationals?
    9. Which schools have high diversity (as relates to ethnicity) representative in their student body and which ones don't?
    10. Which one uses its own method of calculating GPA separate from how others do it?
    11. Which school has the most national merit scholars?
    12. At which school will it cost the most for room and board?
    13. Which school offers the best financial aid?
    14. What are the most common majors at each school (what is the school known for excelling at)?, and
    15. Where are each of these schools located?

    A person like kyledavid80, lolabelle, moizukh, suze, tokenadult, Andre or flopsy could answer all of the above without having to look up anything--since they know most of this stuff by heart from having answered questions like these over the course of a year or two or three. (and many are specialists in certain schools--like lolabelle for Tufts, Andre for Michigan, suze for Dartmouth, and flopsy for the UCs)

    So I'm not entirely sure that chances are all that worthless--although they may be depending upon who is doing the responses.

    I believe that Observer1 may be correct in saying that all of us are not experts at who is most likely to get into the very, very top schools, since none of us are admins. However, almost all of us know at least one or two admins (I know one from Wharton and one from the medical school at UC San Francisco) so we do have at least some insight into the thinking behind the determination of who gets in--even if not the exact rating criteria.
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  • Cornell2012Cornell2012 97 replies16 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    All chance threads should only contain information that the applicant has provided to adcoms. There is simply no point of listing tens of clubs that you are the president of in a chance thread if you were not able to present all of that information on your application. I think the same can be said about awards, scholarships and sports. If you were varsity captain of the tennis, basketball and soccer team, but only listed one of them on your application, then only list that in the thread. It gets really confusing to chance someone when you are given way too much information, especially information that adcoms won't even see. Too many times I have seen people list 30+ EC's when there is only room on the Common application for seven EC's. Really, what is the point of doing that?
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  • banned UBERbanned UBER 130 replies19 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    did you copy that from CollegeBoard?
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  • moizuhkmoizuhk 375 replies22 threadsRegistered User Member
    ^^that and princetonreview.com
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  • Observer1Observer1 8 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Calcruzer: All true, and all reasonable questions, but what you're describing is not a "chances thread" as we know it on CC. People with those questions should just ask them, rather than saying "chance me!"
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  • MikalyeMikalye 1337 replies4 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I'm actually disagree with much of what Calcruzer says. Much of this information is freely available on the various school's websites. I rarely reply to anyone who is asking for information that is freely available, but which they cannot be bothered looking up (except occasionally to correct wrong responses).

    I very, very rarely respond to chances threads, because at most of the top schools, academic excellence is a necessary but not sufficient criteria for entry. As a result, scores are not a particularly useful indicator, and most chances threads concentrate on scores.

    For example, for the MIT class admitted in 2006, 97% of the admitted class had SAT I math scores greater than or equal to 650, yet only 19% of applicants with scores 750-800 were admitted.

    Does that tell you anything? It doesn't tell me much.

    Also at the competitive schools places are lost as much as they are won. How good are your letters of recommendation going to be? How well did you do at the interview (if there is one)? How articulate are your essays and what do they reveal about you? These are often much more indicative of chances for admission than scores. They are also almost always absent in chances threads.

    Another reason that chances threads are not particularly useful, is that I do not know your high school. Chances are the University does. A key question is "Did the student take fullest advantage of the academic and other resources available to them?" If your high school offers 27 AP classes, and you took 3 of them, then the answer is probably no. If your high school offers none, and you therefore did not take any, then in most cases that won't hurt you. If your school does not offer any AP classes, but you chose to take the AP Physics exam anyway after studying on your own and occasionally working after class with your teacher, then that is significantly more impressive. If your chances thread tells me you did well on the 3AP's exams that you sat, I don't know whether that is great or awful.

    Applications are evaluated in context, and the fact of the matter is that the admissions counsellors at the top universities tend to know a great deal more about the high schools and context of the application than the rest of us ever will.

    Therefore, if I lack the basic information to make an informed evaluation of the application, why should I possibly reply to chances threads?

    I actually find them quite distasteful. On the occasions that I read them, I see lots of really biting, often cruel comments on the posters shortcomings, which cannot be useful in any way. Indeed, it is hard to find the utility in them. For applicants who really do have it all, they are an opportunity to brag a little bit: ("I've got 5 patents, and three published academic papers, but I only got a 2390 on my SAT's. Will that keep me out of Harvard?)

    For applicants whose applications are, say, more nuanced, they either get ignorant people telling them they are getting in (which could be setting themselves up for a fall), ignorant people telling them that they will be rejected (which just hurts), or more likely, some politely phrased version of "Dunno???"

    I agree with Observer1, rather than trying to improve them, life would be better if they did not exist.
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  • Student615Student615 1865 replies20 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I also disagree with a number of points on Calcruzer's list. I think that his main point about using chance threads to get 'privileged' information (even if only anecdotal) is a good one, it's just a few of the specific examples that bother me. Like I mentioned in an earlier poster, I also like to see chance threads that have a point beyond just "these are my stats: chance me please!" because that's nothing that the poster couldn't do himself based on reported medians. Looking for further info is good. I'll echo Mikayle, though, in saying that I'm unlikely to reply to "anyone who is asking for information that is freely available, but which they cannot be bothered looking up." At least let us know that if you're looking for basic info, you have searched around a bit, and then perhaps someone can point you in the right direction. For me, one of the most obnoxious things is a response like "Well I know I could find the info, but that would take a really long time, so can't you just give it to me? Isn't that the POINT of these boards???" If you're asking people to chance you, recognize that those who respond are doing a favor, not a duty.
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  • CalcruzerCalcruzer 4756 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Let me response to both Mikalye and Student615's comments above:

    Mikalye first:

    I agree with you that much of this information is available for people who know where to look. I, however, am not of the opinion that just because it is possible to find something means that it is easy to find it (especially for international students).

    For example, let's discuss just the UC system for a second. How many 15 or 16 year-old high school students would know:

    (1) that the UCs have a hierarchy of how difficult it is to get into them (UC Berkeley, then UCLA, then UCSD, then UCI/UCSB/UCD, then UCSC, then UCR, then UC Merced?

    (2) that the UCs use a different GPA system than other university systems do?

    (3) that the GPA at these is computed using only the sophomore and junior years and is capped at 4 honors/IB/AP courses?

    (4) etc., etc., low income applicable, what is average ECs, leadership, in-state versus out-of-state priority given, etc.

    On the other hand, it only takes a person knowledgeable about the UCs a short while to sum up all this stuff and apply it to a poster asking about the UCs. I think flopsy posted 3,000 replies in one year rating only people on the UCs before his UCLA studies starting taking up too much of his time for him to continue to do so.

    If we were to write up a summary for the "chances" thread on certain schools that I were sure would be "stickied" at the top of the section, then I'd be willing to do so--and thus save us from having to write a lot of the same stuff over and over. Unfortunately, I can't be sure of this happening.

    Now, I agree with you that when it comes to the top colleges the chances are less likely to be as accurate. (I stated as much in my original post). However, it should still be clear that some have more chances than others. Looking at the 50% level on the SAT Math at Caltech and you see that over half the class had scores of 780 or above. Thus, if you are below the 780 mark, it is clear that your chances of acceptance are quite low compared to those with the higher scores. Therefore, it's not unfair to tell someone with a 700 SAT Math score applying to this school to retake the test (in fact, it may be what gets them in).

    Also, as far as your MIT example--the fact that 19% of 750-800 Math scores were accepted actually tells me quite a bit when the average acceptee rate is 13%. Also, when you combine this with the knowledge that 60% of those accepted had 700-800 SAT CR scores and 87% had 700-800 SAT Math scores as well--then you begin to get a profile of the average acceptee. Of course, ECs, essays, recommendations, volunteer work and honors will enter in also. (Strangely enough, it actually more clearly maps who won't get in rather than who will be accepted.)

    It is also for this reason that I respond much less to "chances" on top schools, like HYPS, Williams, Amherst, MIT, and Caltech than on other schools. I agree with you that there is going to be much more emphasis at these schools on the ECs and essays and recommendations in determining who actually gets in once the "required" GPA and SAT test scores have been achieved.

    Student 615:

    I agree with you that the kind of posts that bother me are the people that post something like 3.7 UW student, great ECs, good recommendations, which school should I go to?

    As you state, giving some info about majors, interests, urban vs rural, financial ability to pay, state of origin, how far one is willing to travel from home, etc. all helps the responder. And someone who asks for chances at 25 to 30 schools is also a pain, as are those who ask which school is best so that they can get into medical school, whichout a bit of the info above.

    On the other hand, I don't mind if someone gives all the stuff in the paragraph above this one and then asks for a few suggestions for schools in a particular major, like accounting, musical theatre, civil engineering, or chemistry. Then those of us that give "chances" can help out a tiny bit in narrowing down the 1400 choices. I think tokenadult's thread on "noteworthy schools" and "other schools to consider" is very helpful in this regard.

    And I 100% agree with your final point. The people that help out students with "chances" or suggestions are doing this for free, so a thank you occasionally--especially if we've responded to your 10 different questions--is appreciated and is really all we're asking for. There are many people who are good in this regard, and unfortunately, a few who aren't.
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  • MikalyeMikalye 1337 replies4 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Most of your points are quite valid Calcruzer, but that leads directly to a concrete suggestion. Can it then be done that there is a sticky thread at the top of this forum, and the forums of the most competitive schools on a topic like: "What you need to know before you post a chances thread?" Containing much of the good advice on this forum, because I still believe that many I have seen are doing more harm than good.
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  • tokenadulttokenadult 15970 replies1501 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Can it then be done that there is a sticky thread at the top of this forum, and the forums of the most competitive schools on a topic like: "What you need to know before you post a chances thread?"

    That is technologically doable, and it looks like there have been some great contributions of content for such a thread here in this thread.
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  • WEARESCWEARESC 24 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Fight On Trojans!
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