Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bracketology and Highly Selective College Admissions

How's your NCAA bracket looking?


I filled out 8 brackets.

And all of them have been blown to smithereens.

I'm proud to say though I picked Dayton vs. Stanford.

I'm not proud to say I also picked Western Michigan, Louisiana Lafayette, and Western Kentucky.

Which brings me to the correlation between bracketology and highly selective admissions.

We're about to enter the two major 24 hour windows of time where all the #1 seeds reveal their winners and losers...and maybes.

I probably have 68 or so admission decisions pending for my students at those "blue blood" schools.

Enough to fill out a NCAA-like bracket.

And mentally I do it every year. 

I try my best to prognosticate who will win and advance and who will lose and well go somewhere else.

And every year I do about as well in my "highly selective admission bracket" as I do in my NCAA bracket.

There are kids who like Mercer don't beat Duke but get into Duke...and I didn't see it coming.

And there are kids who like Wichita State are undefeated in college admissions right up until April 1st and then they get smeared...and I didn't see it coming.

The reality is that highly selective admissions is simply too unpredictable these days.

The application volume. Plus...

The pressures for greater selectivity (which means lower admit rates and higher yield rates).  Plus...

The institutional agenda.  Plus...

The hidden variables that come into play in making very complex, highly nuanced decisions.

This article is an excellent reminder of what a "crap shoot" highly selective admissions is today.

As Mr. Gould points out in the following article, admission decisions say very little about the student, and much more about the institution making those decisions.

In the end, if a student's application list is balanced, then that student will have some excellent final choices that a majority of 18-year old's would give anything for.

March Madness is certainly my favorite time of year (other than the Masters in April) as a sports fan...but my least favorite time of the year as a college counselor.

But in the end, I'm always surprised how each student ends up where he or she is able to get a great college education.