Getting in with only numbers

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Discus: Ivy League Schools: Harvard University: 2004 Archive: Getting in with only numbers
By Sabinscabin (Sabinscabin) on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 04:37 pm: Edit

does anyone get in with only numbers?

i know schools like harvard constantly reject and defer 1600's but what about 1600/800x3?

i dont mean no extracurriculars at all but i mean participating in a few clubs (no important leadership positions) and several volunteer positions with solid grades (not perfect) in hard classes

By Thedad (Thedad) on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 07:43 pm: Edit

Fairly rare, like maybe 10 percent of the class. And they'd have more top numbers than that, things like Math competitions and stuff, I think.

Remember, they're looking to build an academic *community*, looking for what you can bring to the table.

By Voigtrob (Voigtrob) on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 10:18 pm: Edit

Kid from my school did, EA. 1600/800x3, highest GPA in the school's history and toughest courseload in the school's history (he took something like 17 APs (I think all 5s on the exams), INSANE schedule... for example, he took BC Calc freshman year). He's actually not really a genius, though obviously he is insanely smart... but his parents are just completely retarded. They forced him to study (I forget but it's a certain # of hours per week) for the SATs since 6th grade. And he works on homework and studying and crud... like 24/7 basically. He has no extracurriculars, I believe. Although I do know he has an internship at NIH (National Institutes of Health) this year (takes off a period or two for it)... and he may have had some similar things in the summers previously. But other than that, nothing. It makes me so angry, too, because he's such a great guy, and he's really creative too, he's always wanted to try acting or music or art or something but his parents won't let him. It's completely ridiculous. His brother goes to Northwestern I believe, and is considered the family failure, apparently. I hope he chills out, takes some freedom and does productive things with it once he gets to Harvard.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 12:10 am: Edit

If he had internships at NIH, those could be impressive ECs.

I don't think that students get in who only have stats, no matter how wonderful the stats are. Good essays, reccs, ECs, something else is needed.

By Voigtrob (Voigtrob) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 12:15 am: Edit

Northstarmom: I am almost 100% sure it is just this one internship, MAYBE it began during the summer and has continued through now, I don't quite remember. But yes, believe me, he did get in on [as nearly as possible] only stats. His parents essentially don't let him leave his house. Seriously. -.-

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 12:28 am: Edit

Even if he got in on only stats, what he did on internship could make it an extraordinary experience. In addition, he could have the writing skills to produce a stellar essay. Don't count him out. One never knows....

By Mnm (Mnm) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 12:31 am: Edit

i think that person is Rob Voigt himself.

By Voigtrob (Voigtrob) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 01:52 am: Edit

Haha, I WISH! Man it would be so nice to be in to Harvard now. ;P
Nope indeed, Rob Voigt is just a lowly Princeton deferee. -.-
The kid I speak of is fact a very good writer. I'm sure his essays were stellar (he told me he parents made him spend like weeks upon weeks upon months of time devoted to his application). I think he still quite qualifies for getting in on only stats. I'm kind of wondering though why you say I'm counting him out... I never said it was a bad thing. He worked like CRAZY, probably his entire life, to get into Harvard. And he succeeded. Schoolwork was his extracurricular activity, hehe. ;P

By Voigtrob (Voigtrob) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 01:56 am: Edit

Btw, if you don't believe me... haha:

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 09:52 am: Edit

If a person writes a stellar essay (and stellar essays are quite rare), that would count a lot in the admissions process. Stellar essays tend to result by: extraordinary thinking skills, writing skills and rewriting/editing skills. People can put in lots of effort, use tons of big words and even college consultants, but if they don't have extraordinary writing talent and wisdom, they still will not produce stellar essays.

Combine this with excellent stats plus an excellent internship (plus possibly an extraordinary letter of recommendation) plus a good interview, and that person would have a good chance at an acceptance.

People who have "only" stats, have just that. They don't do any kind of ECs, including summer internships. Their thinking is not insightful, their essays may be grammatical, but don't reflect the passions and writing skills that mark a person who is an extraordinary writer and thinker (Getting an 800 on the SAT II Writing doesn't mean, for instance, that one is a genius at writing. One has good grammatical skills, good vocabulary and can do well on a test).

While you may be seeing a guy who only has stats, adcoms may be able to see other things. For instance, your acquaintance may have some intellectual interests/passions that he doesn't talk about with friends (because friends may think the interests are weird or boring), yet he may talk about these in his essay, on his interview or with teachers.

He may not be pursuing formal ECs in these things. He even may be reading books about them or doing other informal things despite his parents pressuring him to do only schoolwork. He may also have done things on his internship that you know nothing about, and that even he doesn't realize are unusual, but that adcoms, a recommendation writer, an interviewer, a teacher would correctly interpret as indicating a rare talent or way of embracing intellectual opportunities.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 02:28 pm: Edit

I have known many Harvard acceptees from prep schools who got in primarily on statistics. Academic excellence and intellectual curiousity are the still the primary factors for getting into a top school. Most kids with top stats just naturally have other achievement that are not high profile such as winning national olympiads, writing contest or excelling in some other academic endeavor that is considered prestigious to colleges. They may exhibit extraordinary knowledge on some subject that is not something many people know about. Pure brainpower is still very much valued at Harvard.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 03:33 pm: Edit

"Intellectual curiosity" counts a great deal in Harvard admissions. It is a very rare commodity, and is what adcoms thirst to find.

Some people with sky high stats have that, most probably do not. One can achieve sky high stats simply by dronelike hard work (and of course being reasonably bright) that's fueled by either pushy parents or by by a desire to get high stats.

Some people have intellectual curiosity but follow their own drummers, and while they may get great test scores, their grades are horrilbe so they aren't on track for Ivies. (Why? Because they'd probably march to their own drummers in the opposite direction of classes and prof's demands, so would flunk out or drop out!)

If a person has high stats plus intellectual curiosity, they are jewels in the admission field of pebbles, and have decent chances of getting admission just as is the case with students offering other attributes that are in short supply.

I don't think that most kids with high stats also ahve some kind of other achievement of the type that Janimom mentioned. Many literally just have high stats. This particularly is the case when students had parents who thought numbers were so important that they coerced the kids into studying all of the time to get high stats.

Also, many high stat students who are applying to places like Harvard have only participated in math/science ECs because they have parents who are forcing them into those fields. Unless their accomplishments are truly exceptional and also demonstrate that they are interested in the fields, not just racking up resume decoration, such candidates may not stand out as admissions candidates.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 03:37 pm: Edit

"If a person has high stats plus intellectual curiosity, they are jewels in the admission field of pebbles" Well said, Northstarmom.

By Daggerlee (Daggerlee) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 04:38 pm: Edit

I remember Memememe told the story about his brother, who had a 1600 and 800x5 who was rejected by all the top schools he applied to (including Harvard) except for Yale, because he had extremely boring essays. Memememe himself got in on 1600 and 800x3 and a buncha AP 5's with (self-professed) no real EC's besides music, and RSI (which in and of itself is pretty impressive). He posted his essay before, it's well worth a read, very well written, so excellent stats + good essay CAN get you in to Harvard I suppose.

By Clipper (Clipper) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 04:39 pm: Edit

I feel that my D has intellectual curiosity but I am not sure how the adcoms determine that for each candidate. What would they be looking for?

By Clipper (Clipper) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 04:41 pm: Edit

sorry double post

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 04:49 pm: Edit

They would be looking for work in a rare field, some research, some writing, something above and beyond. It is not something that one can laundry list, because, really once it is listed, it is not something that the child has discovered on his own. And that is what make it such a dear trait, the fact that the child discovered this niche and worked on it himself. It can be striking, unusual artwork that catches peoples eye, haunting photos, a paper showing rare insight, an idea that makes a difference at the community center, at work or at school. There is a penguin book called "Playing the Selective College Admissions Game" by Richard Moll that assesses a slate of candidates. One young man's great achievement is getting a traffic light installed at a dangerous intersecton. The story of what he did intrigued the admissions committee to a point that they were willing to overlook his not so stellar stats. The book is dated, but does give you an idea of how the process can go.
And I will tell you that a whiff of a parent looming around is the kiss of death in any of these endeavors unless it is national or international excellence in a known venue (olympic level in sports, famous actress, etc)

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 04:53 pm: Edit

I remember the Mememe post. I am not 100% convinced that the essay was what did his brother in nor that his essay was what got him in. Kids with top academic stats are often selected even if they are not so distinctive--they just all are not and it becomes a lottery ticket who is. It is useless trying to figure out why A got in and B did not if they are similar or differ in secondary criterion. A more vibrant person often shows up through the recs and essays and interviews and that certainly can be a tip factor. But I promise you I have seen a certain number of just academically very strong kids get into every school, including Harvard. It's just that not all academically very strong kids will get into every school.

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