How to Use Admissions Statistics Strategically
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Alexander Oddo in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
- Why are Admissions Statistics Useful?
- Common Statistics
- Don’t Count Yourself Out
- Talk to an Admissions Counselor
When you start your college search you will come across different statistics on college websites. This information is not just for colleges to show off their prestige, but can be used to your advantage if you think strategically. This post will cover how to interpret these statistics and what they mean for your chances of acceptance.
Basically, admissions statistics provide you with some more context into the school’s admissions decisions. Schools are trying to be transparent by sharing information about their applicants of admitted students. It’s a simple way that schools can provide just a little bit more data for you.
These statistics can be extremely useful for students who are trying to get a sense of how they measure up compared to the rest of the applicant pool. Although statistics on your grades and test scores may not be the only things that college admissions officers are looking at, it doesn’t hurt to get a sense of where you fall in relation to the other students who applied to that school.
Most commonly, you’ll see schools use a “middle 50%” to provide admissions data. This may sound complicated but it just means that in the context of ACT scores, the range given demonstrates that 50% of admitted students fall in that range. For example, if the middle 50% is 25 to 30 it means 25% of admitted students had lower test scores than a 25 and 25% of accepted students had a score over 30.
Unweighted vs. Weighted GPA
First of all, you don’t need to worry about making this calculation yourself as schools will essentially recalculate this for you. If you have a weighted transcript, then different courses are given different “weights” in your average. If your school uses an unweighted GPA, then each course, even courses like theater, art, and gym class count the same amount toward your overall GPA. Most schools will recalculate your GPA or convert it to a 4.0 scale to standardize candidates.
What you should be aware of when looking at admission statistics is whether they are presenting the information in a weighted or unweighted manner. Be sure you know how your high school calculates GPA so that you can compare apples to apples!
You’ll often see a college website talking about the average GPA or test scores of students that have applied, have been admitted, or enrolled at their university. These will all give you a little bit of insight as to where you might stack up in the admissions process.
This doesn’t mean, however, that if your GPA is below the average that you have no chance of being admitted. The average is truly what it means: If you add up all the GPAs, divide by the number of applicants, admitted, or enrolled students, you will get the average score.
If you fall a little bit outside of some of the statistics, you should still go for it! Remember that the holistic review process is used at many schools, particularly elite schools. This means that factors outside of your grades and test scores will also impact your chances.
Put yourself out there! If a school is visiting your area, you might have a chance to meet with the admission counselor and talk about yourself. This counselor can become your advocate. This is often not talked about enough because admission counselors are looking to be your advocate. The more information they have about you, the more they can use throughout the admissions review process, and serve as a resource for you.
If you are still having trouble understanding your chances at a specific school, we recommend using our free admissions calculator. Using your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars, we’ll estimate your odds of acceptance, and give you tips on improving your profile. You can also search for best-fit schools based on your chances, and on other factors like size, location, majors and more. This tool will make it a lot easier to create a strategy for your college application process.