The Difficulty of Understanding Admissions

The admission’s process is complicated.

Even with the hundreds of college support organizations and companies advertising their guarantee to get you into the best colleges by hiring ex-admissions officials, alumni, and test-taking experts, it is still one of the most difficult endeavors to pin down exactly what colleges are looking for.

The “holistic” approach to college admission has in equal parts brought joy and confusion to applicants. Applicants are more hopeful now that college admissions does not rely on just empirical data such as gpa or standardized test scores. And for good reason too: a purely mathematical approach to admissions could neither possibly account for the value that a student could bring to a college nor the quality and difficulty of pre-college education. Alternatively, sometimes, it can feel like there is no clear-cut path to studying at the best colleges: it is difficult to tell how much a certain part will affect the application as a whole.

Usually, all we get from the college as applicants is the admissions rate and an questionable college ranking done by third party (or are they?) organizations. And we hold these pieces of information more closely than we might imagine. We take these numbers at face value, and plan our applications around them.

What else can we understand about the university admissions process through statistics? In this particular case, we are focusing on what has generally been considered to be one number: the admissions rate. But what if we decided that there are multiple admissions rate. Surely, the admissions rate of one area can be vastly difference from that of another. If we can find more information through the number that influences students so much in their college decisions, perhaps we can begin to understand more deeply, the nature of how the college education system functions.

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