How hard is it to get into college?

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smectym
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by smectym » Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:27 pm

Jags4186 wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:16 am
>>College is extremely easy to get admitted to. In fact there are many colleges and universities that admit basically anyone who applies.<<

This is so true. And at some of these places you might even get a “good education,” traditionally defined. There are hundreds of schools fighting to fill their admissions goals and not always succeeding. Tuition discounts are widely available, and not just for select stars either.

psteinx
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by psteinx » Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:57 pm

The undergrad student body that's from OOS has held around 35% for a long time I think (since at least the '80s).

IIRC, there was some kind of state law that put an upper clamp on it - i.e. VA residents didn't want their "slots" given to OOS kids, even though OOS kids pay more and are generally higher stats. IIUC, the same thing was true, back in that era at least, for UNC (but with a much lower ~10% cap).

usagi
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by usagi » Wed Sep 25, 2019 12:45 am

whodidntante wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:55 am
AerialWombat wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:26 pm
Considering the fact that it’s quite straightforward for a high school student to earn a legit BS from any number of state universities entirely online, before even graduating high school, I would say “don’t worry about it”. She will be fine.
Before high school?
Are you joking?
I would question the quality of said degree if it can be done in your spare time before finishing high school.

I'm thinking BS doesn't mean bachelor of science in this context.
Uh, all four of my children went from 8th grade to attending college physically and graduated with 4.0/4.0 GPA in STEM, all four graduated in their teens and two had masters degrees. Two graduated from big 10 colleges. Their age based peers were just starting college when my children were starting their careers.

IMO, it is not so much that they worked very hard as much as the academic standards have deteriorated greatly in the last 30 years.

almostretired1965
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by almostretired1965 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 2:20 pm

psteinx wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:27 pm
almostretired1965 wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:20 pm
Back in my day, in the 1980s, if you had an SAT > 1500 and was at the top of your class at a decent high school, you were pretty much guaranteed to be admitted to an Ivy equivalent institution even if you didn't have much else to distinguish your application.
Keep in mind that SAT (and probably ACT) scores are not what they used to be. 1500+ SAT, back in the 1980s, was CRAZY high. Now it's quite good but not THAT remarkable. The SATs were clearly recentered ca. 1995 (it was well publicized at the time), and have probably drifted higher (for elite kids) subsequently, due to possible intentional/unintentional softening of the test (i.e. it's perhaps easier), and also due to likely more/better test prep by the kids.

And while very good SAT scores and GPA in the 1980s was probably a clearer path to elite admission, ~30 years ago, I don't think it was a slam dunk even back then, especially for the very top of the heap.
Ah, I had forgotten about that, so the re-centered SATs are now a poorer discriminator at the top of the distribution ..... Makes sense and thanks for the correction.

The competition has gotten very intense. I would have broke out laughing back then if you told me that you had to bribe someone to get admitted to USC.

psteinx
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by psteinx » Wed Sep 25, 2019 2:23 pm

Yeah, the number (both absolute and %wise) of "perfect" (1600) and near-"perfect" (1500+ or 1550+) SATs is likely a LOT higher than it was, ca. 1985.

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MikeWillRetire
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by MikeWillRetire » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:52 pm

How hard is it to get into college? Depends on the college of course. Back in 1980, I was just an average student. I think my SAT was around 1000. So I went to Anne Arundel Community College (AACC), derisively known as Any Ass Can Come. My parents weren't too thrilled with my choice, but it really was a good transition for me. After two years, I transferred to the University of Maryland and got my bachelor's degree in civil engineering. I shocked myself actually. I am now getting close to ending my 35-year career as an engineer. Somehow it all worked out.

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by IMO » Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:50 am

jodydavis wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:36 am
TomatoTomahto wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 12:53 pm
^ at my kids’ school, there was a fair amount of oversight of the application process. One reason that I referred to essays and recommendations together is that the counselors wanted to maintain their good relationships at good schools, and informally “policed” the writing of essays. As it happens, the horrible essay I mentioned was suggested by counselors to be scrapped; applicant refused, and got into at least one good numbers focused school. He batted zero at holistic schools. I know that some students have their essays ghost written, or have such extensive “advice” that the authorship is questionable, but I would be surprised if a great essay was submitted from their school with a correspondingly favorable recommendation. Too much was on the line for the counselors.

I know it happens, but I’m not sure about the frequency.
I think we are kidding ourselves if we think that personal essays are any less subject to manipulation/gaming than GPA or other metrics. There is no auditing or checking of these essays, so nothing to prevent or detect a broad range of third-party "assistance," everything from brainstorming, to reading and giving suggestions, to mild editing, to more significant editing, to rewriting certain sections, to writing the whole thing. College counselors are subject to the same performance-related pressures as the students and parents themselves. And even if they are honest, they have no ability to really detect cheating by the students or parents. There is literally no check on cheating on this. (And admissions officers acknowledge this problem, though they don't know what to do about it).

And yes, it's unlikely that a bad student who cheats on the essay will get a bunch of strong recommendations. But having a bunch of strong recommendations does not guarantee that a good student wasn't also cheating or getting substantial assistance on the essay. I know, from personal experience, of students who are in the latter category, i.e. excellent students who also got substantial "assistance" on their essays from their parents. Because, after all, the incentive exists just as much (if not more) for those students to cheat, given how competitive the environment is.
I've come to the conclusion that there is grade inflation, essay inflation, SAT scores inflated compared to past times, and significant social engineering when it comes to the college admission process. There are plenty of qualified students who would do just fine in the "elite" colleges if they were admitted.

With that thought in mind, the only solution I see would be to require applicants to meet certain grade and SAT/ACT requirements for particular colleges . If one meets that requirement for grade/SAT/ACT no matter what your race, sex, age, etc, then you get an entry into the admission lottery that just randomly picks applicants with no regard to any of the nonsense factors and nonsense essays. In my world that would be fair, but I'm sure plenty would find fault with that process.

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blaugranamd
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by blaugranamd » Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:24 am

Calico wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:11 am
FireProof wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:16 am
Calico wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:55 am


I am not worried about test scores. She took the PSAT and did well enough for aid if she was a junior (but it doesn't count because she did that as a freshman). I think her grades are great (even if she doesn't or others say anything less than all A's is substandard). Like I said, she pretty much has all As in honors and AP classes, just one B so far in honors biology (she may end up with one more B this year too if her grades stay consistent the rest of this year... so we are talking 15 As and 2 Bs by the end of her sophomore year). I think that's great considering these aren't base classes. Her weighted GPA will be something like a 4.24.
Sounds like a humble-brag from either her or you, then. Nothing here indicates that she wouldn't be competitive at all schools, including Harvard and Stanford, depending on the rest of her application - nobody I knew at my high school got 100% As, but plenty went to top 5 schools.
Sorry, I didn't mean it to sound like bragging, it was more of me being defensive. I think I've been put on edge a little with people telling me my daughter will be a "failure" for not being an all A student and I am failing her for not encouraging and pushing her harder (and this is carrying over from the other forum, not here). I kind of over reacted to a comment I misread in this thread. I won't even point it out because I feel silly now.

I am just trying to say my daughter might not be a super student with straight A's and perfect test scores who is getting a full ride to Harvard or something, but she does get high grades in challenging (weighted) classes and she seems to do really well on standardized tests.
Who is saying your daughter will be a failure? Sheesh. You really don't need to go to a stellar school to be successful, that depends MUCH more on qualities intrinsic to the person. As many have pointed out, getting into A college is about as easy as sneezing these days. I went to a basically unknown local state school that would accept pretty much anyone who finished high school, got into med school, and so far am having a happy successful career as a physician. She will be fine. Undergrad school names are overrated.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Sep 26, 2019 7:23 am

IMO wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:50 am
I've come to the conclusion that there is grade inflation, essay inflation, SAT scores inflated compared to past times, and significant social engineering when it comes to the college admission process. There are plenty of qualified students who would do just fine in the "elite" colleges if they were admitted.

With that thought in mind, the only solution I see would be to require applicants to meet certain grade and SAT/ACT requirements for particular colleges . If one meets that requirement for grade/SAT/ACT no matter what your race, sex, age, etc, then you get an entry into the admission lottery that just randomly picks applicants with no regard to any of the nonsense factors and nonsense essays. In my world that would be fair, but I'm sure plenty would find fault with that process.
It might be tempting to have such a process in the name of fairness, but with a large enough applicant pool, random draws sometimes don't give random results. So, you could have an entering class with only bassoon players. Or, you could accept only STEMish kids for 4 years in a row, or Russian Lit kids, or have 95% females or 95% males, etc.

I used to volunteer to read college application essays and provide advice. NB: my advice was well on the right side of the ethical line. They were not "nonsense essays," and I am sure that admission officers, who have much more experience that I will ever have, could discern quite a bit about a kid. Ditto recommendations, which are often written by teachers who have worked with a kid for years, sometimes 4.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

jodydavis
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by jodydavis » Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:39 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 7:23 am
I used to volunteer to read college application essays and provide advice. NB: my advice was well on the right side of the ethical line. They were not "nonsense essays," and I am sure that admission officers, who have much more experience that I will ever have, could discern quite a bit about a kid. Ditto recommendations, which are often written by teachers who have worked with a kid for years, sometimes 4.
With respect to recommendations, I agree that they can be more useful, as there is at least an external check (as opposed to application essays). Note that this, too, is subject to certain distortions. Smaller, better-resourced private schools clearly have an advantage here over larger public schools, where college counselors may have 100+ students to oversee. The smaller classes, closer connection to students, and the ongoing/close relationships between college counselors and elite schools all give students at such schools a substantial leg up, even if a student from a larger public school is equally as strong. (I know, because I attended one of these private schools some time ago. The counselors could literally call up admissions officers at elite schools to talk about certain students.) This is one reason why private schools are over-represented at the elite universities. In some ways, this may be perfectly okay, as it is part of what you get (along with all of the other educational benefits) when you decide to pay for a private school education. But is is also something that is not necessarily connected to merit or ability.

22twain
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by 22twain » Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:08 am

IMO wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:50 am
There are plenty of qualified students who would do just fine in the "elite" colleges if they were admitted.
It seems what we need are more "elite" colleges, or more spots at the existing ones, enough to accommodate every student who has the ability to benefit from them.

But then, would they be "elite" any more? :wink:
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:39 am

22twain wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:08 am
IMO wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:50 am
There are plenty of qualified students who would do just fine in the "elite" colleges if they were admitted.
It seems what we need are more "elite" colleges, or more spots at the existing ones, enough to accommodate every student who has the ability to benefit from them.

But then, would they be "elite" any more? :wink:
No, they wouldn’t be elite any more, but think of how beneficial it would be to the students and society. There’d be less discomfort about the many very qualified applicants who are rejected, not because they are less capable, but because there isn’t a seat for them.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by IMO » Thu Sep 26, 2019 12:41 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:39 am
22twain wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:08 am
IMO wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:50 am
There are plenty of qualified students who would do just fine in the "elite" colleges if they were admitted.
It seems what we need are more "elite" colleges, or more spots at the existing ones, enough to accommodate every student who has the ability to benefit from them.

But then, would they be "elite" any more? :wink:
No, they wouldn’t be elite any more, but think of how beneficial it would be to the students and society. There’d be less discomfort about the many very qualified applicants who are rejected, not because they are less capable, but because there isn’t a seat for them.
Yes but elite colleges could set their GPA SAT/ACT standard very high. A less elite school can set their's lower.

The concept of elite is getting downgrading anyway because of social engineering at some colleges. Isn't there an issue that some elite college may be discriminating against Asian applicants even though they may have the best grade/test scores? Now there is some "disadvantage" points advised on the SAT. Seems like these things lower elite status. It would be like a championship basketball team started specifically selecting more based on getting different races, different physical heights (shorter), different athletic performance levels (less performance), etc simply to provide a more diverse basketball team. There goes your elite basketball team.

Regarding the essay part. I suppose you could still require an essay, but the essay would be a yes/no meets minimum requirement to get a lottery ticket. It just shouldn't have this great weight in my view because the essays are easily gamed. Even if they are not gamed by applicants, I doubt essay quality would be correlate to success vs. lack of success in the elite college.

lightheir
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by lightheir » Thu Sep 26, 2019 1:07 pm

IMO wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:50 am

With that thought in mind, the only solution I see would be to require applicants to meet certain grade and SAT/ACT requirements for particular colleges . If one meets that requirement for grade/SAT/ACT no matter what your race, sex, age, etc, then you get an entry into the admission lottery that just randomly picks applicants with no regard to any of the nonsense factors and nonsense essays. In my world that would be fair, but I'm sure plenty would find fault with that process.
A uniformly applied 'score-based' system is only partly fair, and in a lot of regards, is patently UNfair, and has major drawbacks with student body composition.

Just a few of the huge issues that will results (this has literally happened repeatedly whenever they have done this on a large scale in the US)

- You lose nearly all the dispriviliged minorities in your student body. Like <5% left. This almost certainly has less to do with innate intelligence, and everything to do with the lack of income, safety, and resources these minorities encounter. Even the brightest dispriviliged minority from a poor family in the inner city, has almost no chance compared to a joe-average, much less intelligent white/asian kid who is from upper-middle class and gets good public/private schooling, test prep, and good college counseling. The student body becomes 90%+ Asian/white, and a lot more homogeneous socioeconomically - this has happend in the Univ of CA system in the past when SAT scores were probably the most important major admitting factor.

- Too much gaming of the system. You would literally have a class that is made up nearly entirely of 'targeted test-takers' who expend all their resources and energy for that one multiple choice test. Yes, this is real - I've seen it first hand in medical schools, where some really good test takers can ace the MCAT, but are actually very limited in almost every other intellectual endevaor and make for very poor doctors since life is generally not a multiple choice test. Many Asian countries still use a predominantly "one-test rules all" approach at the end of High school, with widely acknowledged detrimental results to the kids and society even from the parents nad leaders themselves.

The 'soft bias' of our current system, despite its problems, is still regarded as the world's best in terms of equitable selection, as it tries to account for as many factors as possible for admittance, with the reality that subjectivity is huge.


If you want to make our college system literally manyfold more fair in a single swoop, there is one logistically easy but finanically near-impossible way to do it. Just remove ALL legacy admittances (kids who would not have gotten in, but are ushered in on the strength of their parents' financial contributions to the college.) That would instantly free up tons of spots for legitimately qualified individuals, but it would wreck most colleges' budgets.

softwaregeek
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by softwaregeek » Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:22 pm

Has she considered taking up rowing? How are her photoshop skills?

Seriously, though, I think there is too much pressure. Wife went to community college and qualified for automatic transfer to Berkeley because of her grades. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

Meanwhile, local high school students are literally throwing themselves in front of trains over grades.

almostretired1965
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by almostretired1965 » Fri Sep 27, 2019 12:11 pm

lightheir wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 1:07 pm
IMO wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:50 am

- You lose nearly all the dispriviliged minorities in your student body. Like <5% left. This almost certainly has less to do with innate intelligence, and everything to do with the lack of income, safety, and resources these minorities encounter. Even the brightest dispriviliged minority from a poor family in the inner city, has almost no chance compared to a joe-average, much less intelligent white/asian kid who is from upper-middle class and gets good public/private schooling, test prep, and good college counseling. The student body becomes 90%+ Asian/white, and a lot more homogeneous socioeconomically - this has happend in the Univ of CA system in the past when SAT scores were probably the most important major admitting factor.
I am actually of two minds about this. On the one hand, all else being equal, I prefer standards that are objective, clear, and unambiguous. In some sense this is analogous to how I view Olympic sporting events. There is no doubt who deserved to win the 100 meter dash. In gymnastics, not so much. Whatever else you may say about it, a standardized test is just that (well, unless you've been diagnosed with a learning disability). But it ought not be the only thing that matters.

I agree that one of the consequences of eliminating affirmative action and moving to a system based purely on test scores and grades will be a drastic reduction in the racial diversity at our most selective colleges. But the rest of the argument is a non-sequitur. If you look closely at the population of "under-privileged" minorities at a typical Ivy league school, what you find is that the proportion that are actually from poor families from the inner city or similarly disadvantaged backgrounds to be quite small. Instead, the beneficiaries are mostly kids from upper middle class and wealthy families. However one feels about diversity and whether it should be cultivated, we should be clear eyed about how things actually work in practice.

A

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by lightheir » Mon Sep 30, 2019 1:53 pm

almostretired1965 wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 12:11 pm
lightheir wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 1:07 pm
IMO wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:50 am

- You lose nearly all the dispriviliged minorities in your student body. Like <5% left. This almost certainly has less to do with innate intelligence, and everything to do with the lack of income, safety, and resources these minorities encounter. Even the brightest dispriviliged minority from a poor family in the inner city, has almost no chance compared to a joe-average, much less intelligent white/asian kid who is from upper-middle class and gets good public/private schooling, test prep, and good college counseling. The student body becomes 90%+ Asian/white, and a lot more homogeneous socioeconomically - this has happend in the Univ of CA system in the past when SAT scores were probably the most important major admitting factor.
I am actually of two minds about this. On the one hand, all else being equal, I prefer standards that are objective, clear, and unambiguous. In some sense this is analogous to how I view Olympic sporting events. There is no doubt who deserved to win the 100 meter dash. In gymnastics, not so much. Whatever else you may say about it, a standardized test is just that (well, unless you've been diagnosed with a learning disability). But it ought not be the only thing that matters.

I agree that one of the consequences of eliminating affirmative action and moving to a system based purely on test scores and grades will be a drastic reduction in the racial diversity at our most selective colleges. But the rest of the argument is a non-sequitur. If you look closely at the population of "under-privileged" minorities at a typical Ivy league school, what you find is that the proportion that are actually from poor families from the inner city or similarly disadvantaged backgrounds to be quite small. Instead, the beneficiaries are mostly kids from upper middle class and wealthy families. However one feels about diversity and whether it should be cultivated, we should be clear eyed about how things actually work in practice.

A
Again, I see your point, but I def disagree with it.

If test scores and grades were the absolute, best measure of measuring everyone's net worth in college, I'd be all for it, demographics and minorities be danged. And there are some fields where the lack of test scores absolutely makes entry impossible - law, medicine are just two where a very subpar performance in the MCAT or LSAT will almost certainly tank your chances.

The (obvious) reality though, is that test scores have little correlation to one's overall success in life. They are a incredibly poor predictor of life performance in almost all measure, with very specific exceptions. Even in the fields of medicine and law, having top test scores correlates very little with how good a doctor/lawyer you are once you're above the bare minimum score level, as there are so many nontestable factors that are far more important.

I do see and respect your desire for full transparency and fairness, but sticking to pure test scores is absolutely not the way to do it. Doing so only gives the false superficial impression of fairness, when in reality it's just as unfair as any system favoring kids from wealthy socioeconomic groups.

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by psy1 » Fri Oct 04, 2019 12:15 pm

I have not read the entire post which is long now. Just a few thoughts.

In 2018, about 67,000 students scored 33 and up on the ACT (i.e. the top 3%). Every single one of them likely applied to multiple top schools. The average applicant to college applies to 7-10 schools. The top group, likely more, means at least 670,000 applications to the top schools from the top 3% of students in the country. GPA in high school is easy to come by. Many more that 67K have a >4.0 GPA so it is not very meaningful.

Females outnumber males in college applications and in attendance at many schools. A caucasian female with a 4.0 and 33+ on ACT is basically a dime a dozen at top schools. There is also inflation in "life experience" nowadays such that children (and their parents) start grooming their CV's for college early. Amazes me how many high school students claim to have "started a non-profit." Passe nowadays. Likewise with winning endless competitions, participating in "model-UN" (is that a good thing?), mock trials, taking up lacrosse for some reason... It really is crazy. Unless you want your kid playing that game, then consider admission to an elite school as a gamble. More likely is a state flagship school for the typical excellent student.

Also must consider cost. If you are responsible and have no more children than you can afford to raise and educate, then you will get no financial aid and thereby pay inflated costs for elite schools where merit aid is rare. With travel and full pay, you could easily pay $300K for an elite school vs $100K for a state school.

Now would be a good time to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your child about realistic expectations in terms of likelihood of admission and what is affordable. Nothing wrong with swinging for the fence, but hitting a series of doubles might score more runs.

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