Arnold Kling  

College Admission Statistics

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Andrew Samwick writes,

I've taken a 5-school moving average by rank here to make the graph more readable. By rank 11, we're at an acceptance rate of about 20%. By rank 21, we're above 30%. In the low- to mid-30s, we cross 40% and then 50%. There are plenty of well regarded schools in those ranks.

If you just measure selectivity by the percent of applicants rejected, the folks at WeGame U can find all sorts of ways to artificially boost the numbers in their applicant pool.

The statistic that I think would reveal the most about college selectivity would be the median SAT scores for the applicants who are rejected. If the school is routinely rejecting students with SAT's of around 700 (per section of the SAT), you know they are selective. On the other hand, if the median SAT score for rejected applicants is 520, you know that they are dealing with a mediocre applicant pool.

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COMMENTS (3 to date)
Sean writes:

Arnold, are you aware of the "Tufts method" of gaming the rankings? It entails: rejecting students with very high SAT scores to look good (as you said, a school that rejects good applicants must therefore be good) with little worry about the loss of good students - they probably wouldn't land them anyway. At the same time, this increases their "yield": most of these students are going to Ivies and are only using Tufts (or other school applying strategy) as a safety school.

Don writes:

My college's dean of admissions once asked me how to reduce our acceptance rate without changing the size of the entering class. My five word answer:

Stop charging an application fee.

Bob Knaus writes:

Sean is absolutely correct about colleges rejecting high-scoring SAT applicants.

In 1995 I was rejected by the University of Washington with 750 verbal/730 math SATs. The moral I drew -- and the story I told for several years -- was that an out-of-state white male didn't stand much of a chance at admission.

How wrong I was! I did not know until much later that my SATs would have gotten me into a number of top-tier schools. UW was the only one I appliead at, for personal reasons. Had I included an explanation along with my application, I might have gotten in.

Fortunately, in 1996 I got a job as a management consultant based on my work experience. Now I am semi-retired on a sailboat in the Bahamas. So things can turn out OK, even for a high-school dropout.

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