College Admissions: The Academic Index

By College Advice

Connecticut parents with their first child going through the college process will hear a great deal of misinformation.  Most misconceptions come from other parents with their singular stories of their child’s process, much of which will not have relevance to your child.  Some of the misinformation comes from colleges who – as gently as I can put it – are filled with masterful marketers.

The single worst piece of misinformation likely relates to the “holistic view” of how candidates are evaluated as if the numbers are equal to the subjective criteria.  In most cases, this is misleading and in some cases, it is simply not true.

For example, I’ll hear from a parent that College X really loves “community service”.  That could very well be accurate.  But if the numbers -GPA-SAT (or ACT) do not meet their standards, then it is highly unlikely that community service will help the student gain admission.

The single best piece of information that we will give here: maximize your academic index (AI)

Those are the numbers that colleges use to evaluate candidates.  Years ago, a Dartmouth admissions official broke confidentiality and released Dartmouth’s academic index algorithm.  50% grades, 45% SAT Is and 5% SAT IIs.   That likely has changed in some way and every college has its own algorithm.   What comes of the academic index? The most important area is the cut-off.  So, for example, is the AI of the college is on a 100 point scale, the admissions officials will likely have a cut-off point that would prevent admission unless there is an extraordinary hook (like athletic recruiting or high level connection).

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