How do admissions offices do their thing?





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Discus: College Admissions: 2002 - 2003 Archive: May 2003 Archive: How do admissions offices do their thing?
By Crazyandy (Crazyandy) on Monday, April 28, 2003 - 09:26 pm: Edit

Everything I have on my record (grades, ECs, work, volunteer, etc.) is great. My test scores suck (ACT 24/taking SAT in June and hoping for a 1300 :/ ) It just seems almost everyone on the boards is 1450+ superstars and, not that im sick of it (I'm extremely happy for those people), I feel like such a loser! I have gotten 1 B in high school and taken all honors/AP classes when I could but my ACT scores suck. I realize that my hopes for top schools like Penn, JHU, and Carnegie Mellon aren't totally out of the water, but compared to those "1450+ superstars" I feel like I stand no chance. I've heard that there is hope, however, and Thats why im asking ... Do admissions offices put you in similar catergories (such as kids who are like me in 1, lesser kids in another, and your "1450+ superstars" in another)? I feel that if a college did that, I would have no problem in getting in to my reach schools. Can anyone help me confirm this tactic, or tell me how the admissions offices at competative schools handles the admissions process? Thank you!!

By Vaj (Vaj) on Tuesday, April 29, 2003 - 05:06 pm: Edit

I have the same problem. I have a 4.2 GPA, great EC's/essays/recs/, but my test scores are extremely poor (1220 SAT)? Does anyone have any advice for people like us? Do we still stand a chance at top schools?

By Spartan858585 (Spartan858585) on Tuesday, April 29, 2003 - 10:42 pm: Edit

My friend has this exact problem: 4.4 weighted (4.0 unweighted) GPA great EC's but he got a 1210 on his SAT.

By Icarus (Icarus) on Tuesday, April 29, 2003 - 11:36 pm: Edit

Admittedly, standardized tests play a large role in college admissions, but they are not everything. And especially now, the SAT I's and ACT tests are not looked upon as favorably as the SAT II subject tests. As a matter of fact, the SAT is going to change drastically for the 2005 school year, mostly at the request of the UC system. It is going to take on a writing section and harder math concepts from the SAT II tests. But in response to your question, try to bring the SAT I scores up, but if that doesn't work after one more try, focus on the SAT II's and do well on those - they are more important.

But just to give you an idea, I got rejected from JHU (not one of my top choices, so oh well), and i had a 1450 on the SAT I's 800/730 on SAT II's - standardized tests aren't everything... you need to be what the adcom is looking for for that class. It is extremely arbitrary.

By Vaj (Vaj) on Wednesday, April 30, 2003 - 05:55 pm: Edit

Thanks Icarus, good post.

By Drusba (Drusba) on Wednesday, April 30, 2003 - 06:50 pm: Edit

Rumor has it that admissions officers get together in a room with all the applications, drink three bottles of scotch, fold each application into a paper airplane, and toss it across the room toward two large bins one marked "accept" and the other "reject" (and if it misses both, you get waitlisted). Problem is the "subjective" decisions that are sometimes actually made often employ the same amount of science. However, it is true that top schools don't take all the 4/1600's (GPA/SAT)that apply and take many in the 1300 or even lower range. That is partly because if they took only the highest scorers they would end up with 1,000 insecure overacheivers who would all end up schizophrenic trying to compete with each other. However, it is also because many of those lower scores may come from legacies, those who apply early decision, athletes, and other special groups. Nevertheless, a high GPA and other fine factors including a good essay can sometimes make up for that low test score.

By Smith (Smith) on Wednesday, April 30, 2003 - 09:47 pm: Edit

I heard that admissions officers want to avoid admitting unlucky people - so they throw half of the pile of applications in the trash without reading them.

By Cvillelion (Cvillelion) on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 08:36 am: Edit

Crazyandy,

You might want to take the time to read a book called "The Gatekeepers". Written by an education journalist (NY Times if I recall correctly) that was allowed to go through the entire admissions process with the staff at Wesleyan. Very interesting stuff. I came away understanding that the SAT is one criteria they look at, but is far from the only one (nor the most important).


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