College Admissions Myth Busted: Admissions is *NOT* just an exercise in crunching the numbers.

Do admissions officers look at more than the “numbers” when making admissions decisions?  That is, do colleges and universities care about anything else besides GPA and standardized test scores

Absolutely. Yes they do.  We are asked this question all the time by our clients and we strongly believe that there is as much art as there is science to the admissions process. 

Remember the game show “The Price is Right”?  In the admissions scenario, the ‘numbers’ you present at the stage door (your test scores and GPA) get you into the audience (i.e., application pool) and poised for serious consideration.  It is the rest of your application –your essay, recommendations, and the many extras that make the application unique and (quite frankly) interesting– that get you admitted or, as Bob Barker might have it, to “come on down” because it’s your turn to join this college community.

Of course admissions officers want to accept students who can handle the work at that particular institution.  The numbers –most importantly the rigor and upward trend of the transcript– show them that you likely can and get you in that audience.  Once there, however, you need to show the school that you have more to offer than just the numbers.  You need to show them how you will contribute to the campus.  

The Science and Art of College Admissions

This is where the science ends and the art begins.  Remember, a college campus is a community complete with artists, musicians, athletes, scientists, politicians and much, much more.  If all admissions officers had to do was look at the numbers and accept the top 6%, 10%, or 20% (depending on selectivity), then their job would be easy, and actually so would the applicant’s. 

But this is not the case.  Remember, colleges read all of the material you submit and sometimes it comes down to splitting hairs in admissions.  What does Applicant A offer as compared to Applicant B?  Maybe A is involved in student government but B is an oboe player.  Maybe A came to campus and updated her application to let the admissions office know about an award won.  Maybe, maybe not.  That is what makes each application unique and why the art of admissions is much more subtle and difficult than the science.

Test Optional Admissions

The ever increasing number of schools that are “test optional” truly justifies our belief that admissions is more than a numbers game.  Check out The National Center for Fair and Open Testing to see how many schools offer applicants an alternative to submitting SAT or ACT scores. 

And keep reading next week as we bust another college admissions myth…