College admissions: The numbers matter and then there is some luck

By General Education Advice

After “Ivy Decision Day” the bulk of college admissions decisions from most colleges have been made.  I get many e-mails regarding the results from both our college counseling and SAT clients.

The unsurprising news, at least to the knowledge, the numbers matter…. enormously.  Those with a lower than median Academic Index – each school has its unique algorithm for test scores and grades – rarely ever gain admission without a hook (athletic recruit, a relative of a VIP, underrepresented minority, and now “first generation college student.”   All the blather about looking at the “whole candidate” is a half-truth or really a one-tenth truth.  There are a few candidates with unusual stories or exceptional extracurricular activities that get in with numbers that are close to the median.  But most every Connecticut suburban high school student must have numbers that meet the median.

As for luck…consider the following… two students with essentially identical numbers from the same or neighboring similar high schools with no hooks but one is a french horn player who writes his essay on the beauty of being in a band and the other is a football player who writes his essay on the beauty of being on a team.  What do think happens if the admission reader played french horn and was picked on by football players?!