College Admission Is Not Random

College Admissions Is Not Random, Admission Is Not Random, University Admissions Is Not Random

There are some who argue that college admissions is a “crap shoot.” They’re wrong.

College admission is not random.” There’s an article in “The Washington Post” by Valerie Strauss entitled, “Can we stop obsessing on the Ivy League?” that we figured we’d draw to the attention of our readers. In this piece, Ms. Strauss states, “College admissions have become something akin to a crap shoot. It used to be that college admissions counselors could predict which students would get in where. Now they can’t.” That is definitely, 100% not true. We aim to correct misconceptions on our college admissions blog and in this quote, we’ve got two misconceptions: 1.) College admissions is certainly not a “crap shoot” and 2.) College admissions counselors can certainly predict with good accuracy which students will get in where. We do it all the time at Ivy Coach.

College admission isn’t random. Does the ‘A’ student with perfect SAT scores always get into Harvard and Princeton? Absolutely not! These students — quite often — are rejected from schools like Harvard and Princeton because their applications aren’t strong in other areas. Does that mean admission to Harvard and Princeton is random? No! A strong hook, great essays, terrific letters of recommendation — these are variables that too factor into a student’s application. To suggest that college admissions — or highly selective college admissions — is random is misleading and erroneous.

And, yes, we sure can predict if a student will get into a school like, say, Duke. With top grades and ACT scores and an essay about learning what it’s like to grow up poor through a service trip in Uganda, it is our prediction based on this evidence alone that this student will not gain admission to Duke. And, yes, since the grades and ACT scores are top notch, our prediction has everything to do with that terrible choice for an essay topic. Showing interest in a university is also a variable to account for. If a student never shows interest in Dartmouth and Dartmouth believes the student will get admitted to Harvard, there is a very good chance that student won’t get into Dartmouth, in spite of getting into Harvard. Dartmouth wants students who have intentions of matriculating as this positively impacts their yield statistic. This all contributes to our larger point — college admission isn’t random. It’s not a “crap shoot.” And it’s quite easy in fact to predict if a student will get into a certain highly selective college if you account properly for all variables. And, at Ivy Coach, we take into account all variables.

While you’re here, read about how Ivy League Admission Isn’t Random.


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  • Rosemary Laberee says:

    As someone who is spellbound at this time of year with the activity on the ad com ouija board, I found this article on the non-randomness of competitive university admissions very comforting. The task of nailing all aspects of the application is so daunting that screaming “crap shoot” might be cathartic, but that doesn’t make it true. I’m ditching my ouija board image – now !

  • Kim says:

    It is super predictive for athletes. Yale came to a private school in the northeast and offered a scholarship for ice hockey to one young man in freshman year and told him all he had to do was keep a C average for the rest of high school. Another person in private was top in the country in X sport (won’t name the sport to avoid exposing the person) but was always drunk, smoking hookah and dealing adderall…got a full ride to Princeton. Another dunce got in Harvard because the family had a buliding named after them…the list is endless…so yep, it’s very easy to predict who is getting in these schools.

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