College counseling for Connecticut’s students: admissions roulette during the pandemic

By College Counseling

“I tell my friends that you are Nostradamus when it comes to college admissions.”  Lily, a mother from East Lyme, relayed when she referred me to one of her friends.  I had worked with Lily’s two children through both SAT prep and college counseling.  With each, I went through my analysis for likely admission.   Apparently, the results were exact (with the qualification that some of my picks were 50-50).

Certainly, there have always been subjective factors related to college admission.  I read a lot of college essays in our college counseling practice.  Unquestionably, there is an issue of quality.  Some would be considered excellent by most college admissions officers.  Some would be considered poor.  And, of course, everything in the middle.  But the middle is where it gets murky.  Individual preferences of the reader would play a large part in evaluating the essay.  As I sometimes say when giving presentations, you might get the luck that you write about your love of playing the French horn of having an admissions reader who also played the French horn.

Activities have a similar feel.  Obviously, there are those with distinctly outstanding activities and those who are deficient.  But the vast number of kids who play a sport, do community service, and are in a couple of clubs makes the middle hard to distinguish.

Grades.  You can read the plethora of posts I’ve written on grade inflation.  Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble but “everyone” has an average above 90. (I’m only being mildly hyperbolic) and the combination of weighted grades, different high school grading systems, and removal of class ranks (although unofficially schools do have such ranks) makes grades hardly the distinguishing factor it once was.  Consider how you would evaluate a student with a 3.87 unweighted GPA (4.22 weighted) East Lyme versus a student with an unweighted 97 GPA (101 weighted) from Old Lyme.

How did they evaluate pre-pandemic?  The SATs (and ACTs) were used far more than colleges let on.  And, while colleges will be test optional, I’m quite sure that the SAT will be a useful weapon for those who do submit.

For others, it will be admissions roulette and I don’t think that plays well (at the top colleges) for students from affluent suburbs in Connecticut.