As you look at Colleges’ stats, you should begin to recognize variations from the norm. These variations are important in understanding both the nuances/personality of that College and how those nuances might affect your chances of being admitted. Once you know these nuances, you can assess how you feel about them and determine if you fit the typical student profile, after adjusting for something that does or does not apply to you (varsity athlete, or first generation to attend College, for example). Here are some examples.
Student Athletes – Chances of Being Admitted
Are you looking primarily at smaller, Division 3 private Colleges? Maybe you’ve checked out the 6 Colleges you are interested in, and noticed that typically 7-15% of males and 3-10% of females at those Colleges are varsity athletes. But then you notice that nearly 30% of a particular College’s male students are varsity athletes. It would be a good idea to determine why there are so many male student athletes at this College, and to adjust the typically admitted student profile to adjust for male athletes only (if you are a male athlete) or non-male athletes only (if you are not a male athlete), to get a better sense of your chances of being accepted at that College. Admissions Offices may have different Admissions standards, depending on whether you fit into a particular category. This will likely require asking current or recent students about their understanding of the reasons for the variation from the norm, as well as a frank discussion with an Admissions Officer, as Colleges don’t readily publish this sort of information.
Student Athletes – Nuances
I found this example to be very interesting. The Claremont Colleges are a Consortium of 5 Colleges. The Consortium groups their varsity athletes onto combined teams. One team is comprised of students from Harvey Mudd (one of the country’s top math, science and engineering undergraduate Colleges), Scripps (an all womens’ College) and Claremont McKenna. The other team is comprised of students from Pomona and Pitzer. Here is a breakdown of the percentage of student athletes from the Harvey Mudd, Scripps and Claremont McKenna team:
|COLLEGE||% Male Athletes||% Female Athletes|
One thing that makes these variations in athletics participation even more remarkable is that Claremont McKenna has 34% and 62% more undergraduate students than Scripps and Harvey Mudd, respectively. As I asked about these significant variations in varsity student participation, I learned some important information. Harvey Mudd, typically a very technical school, tends to have less athletically-orientated students (shall I say nerds?). Scripps, being an all womens College, has no male athletes and for some reason has less female athletes. So Claremont McKenna fills out the team with a lot of student athletes. That leads to the question, do more athletes apply to Claremont McKenna because they want to be a student athlete and/or to socialize with other athletes, or because they believe (or in fact are) more likely to be accepted into Claremont McKenna? Either way, I would certainly be considering whether my being or not being an athlete at one of these Claremont Colleges impacts my chances of Admission. But these athlete stats might also tell you something about these College’s atmosphere. Whether accurate or not, I’ve been told Claremont McKenna is more of a jocks College, and Harvey Mudd is more of a non-jocks/nerdy College. Beyond academics at these Colleges, you may have an opinion on which atmosphere appeals to your personality.
Cappex provides a fair amount of athletics information, including how many male and female students participate in a particular sport. College Niche actually provides what percentage of students are varsity athletes.
First Generation College Student
Likewise, determining if a College accepts a larger number of first generation College students might tell you something about that college. Do they have a mission to encourage all students to become College graduates, so they accept more first generation applicants? Did they realize that as they became more selective, they had a less diverse student body (which often but not always goes hand in hand), so have made it a policy to accept more first generation College students? Maybe they live in a more socio-economic diverse region, so they encounter more first-generation College applicants? Maybe their need-blind (they consider the applicant separate from their financial need) admissions policy translates to more students with parents who did not attend College and therefore require more financial aid to apply to that College? Time to find out more about why they have a larger number of first generation College students and ponder what that means, in terms of both the campus atmosphere and your chances of being admitted.
As discussed in Organize Your College Data, it’s helpful to create a spreadsheet with a quick breakdown of the typically admitted student and related information, including number of applicants, acceptance rate, test scores, financial aid, endowment and your thoughts on whether a College is a Target (or Match), Reach or Safety school. It’s important to modify the criteria in this spreadsheet to target your special interests/situation.