In 1993, 42% of colleges reported that class rank was of “considerable importance” in admissions. In 2011, only 19% of colleges consider class rank of considerable importance. What has changed? Many schools no longer rank at all, not wanting to damage students who may have missed the top quintile by a .004 difference in GPA, for instance. Given the wide range of rigor in our nation’s public and independent schools, rank can mean many, many different things. Grade inflation and weighted GPAs further distort what might seem, at first blush, a simple statistic. The colleges know that.
When I was applying to colleges in the 1970s, on-campus interviews were required. Inadvertently, they gave advantage to students whose parents could afford to take such trips and whose own personal style made an interview a real “plus” to the overall application. As another example of an unequal playing field, most colleges choose not to offer campus interviews or to alumni- only interviews (the Ivies, etc.) in the regions where a student attends school. Alumni interview reports have diminished in significance in recent years, which many alumni interviewers have duly noted.
Sarah C. Reese, Informed Educational Solutions firstname.lastname@example.org
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