We’ve been reading a number of articles lately on the university admissions process in which people write that the process is largely “random.” Sometimes they use less of a teenage word and write “arbitrary” but either way you cut it, what they’re saying is incorrect. There is little that is “random” about the university admissions process. Are there some elements of luck? Yes. But, overall, luck plays a very minor role in the whole process. There is indeed a science to the university admissions process and science is by no means random.
SAT and ACT scores as well as grades are objective means by which to compare various students. Standardized test scores allow admissions officers to somewhat level the playing field as an “A” in one school might be a “B+” in another. Education, as we know, is not consistent at each and every high school across the United States and neither are the metrics by which students are evaluated.
But we all know that standardized test scores and grades aren’t the only factors in the admissions process. Special talents and activities, family background, the quality of letters of recommendation, the quality of a student’s college essays, and much more factor into admissions decisions. There is a “holistic review” in college admissions. And yet even though the word “holistic” may imply that it’s less scientific than if admissions officers simply compared scores and grades and admitted students based on these metrics, these non-numeric components are rarely subjective!
There is a science to a great college essay. There is a science to the kind of college essay that a college admissions officer will want to read just as there is a science to the kind of college essay that an admissions officer will dread reading. There is a science to a great teacher letter of recommendation. There is a science to avoiding the mistakes that so many students make on their applications. And there is a science to so many other components of the admissions process as well.
So let’s stop saying that the process is random. If it were random, why do 93% of our students gain admission to their first choice college year in and year out? Why do 100% of our students gain admission to one of their top three college choices year in and year out? Over the course of twenty years. Can the student with perfect scores and perfect grades get denied admission? Absolutely! But that student isn’t denied admission because of the perfect grades and scores. That student is denied admission because he/she failed the science of another component of the admissions process. And at Ivy Coach, we know all of the components.