Originally Posted By: madeinuk
Quote:
The problem with pure merit based is that there are too many kids at the top. Too many perfect SAT scores and perfect GPAs. "Anybody" (not really anybody) who tries hard enough can get perfect scores and perfect grades. Then the schools have to do "holistic" admissions which aren't really holistic because it's only after you pass the bar for test scores and GPA that your other activities are looked at.


That is what the media want you to think happens but were that true then average SAT scores at US colleges ex(Caltech and MIT) would be a lot higher than they actually are.

The official line seems to be ‘with so many perfect scores we need to practice holistic admissions to get the creme de la creme’ but the actual scores of undergraduates admitted are sometimes far from perfect which leaves me unconvinced that they are telling the truth.



But they are.

First, the number of SAT/ACT takers has steadily risen. Second, the average scores on the SAT has increased since the 1970s. This naturally means an increase in the small number of kids with perfect scores and near perfect. And it is a small number of kids, the SAT says only 5% score above 1400 but with the amount of test prep out there plus the increased number of applicants, there are more high scoring kids in the absolute sense.

Up to about ten years ago, there was a steady increase in college applicants, including that steady increase of students with perfect scores.

Since then there appears to be an increase in applications per applicant. So, the kid with the perfect SAT who applied to 8 schools 20 years ago is now applying to 20-30 schools (there are kids applying to 40+ schools apparently). So instead of applying to Harvard and handful other schools, these kids are applying to all of the Ivies, the alternate Ivies plus 10 safety schools.

Spread that out across the applicant pool and schools (the elite schools at least) are getting more applications from perfect students without there being a corresponding increase in the actual number of perfect students.

The rejection rate for schools like Harvard have increased but the entry class sizes haven't shrunk. More applicants for the same amount of the seats.

This puts schools in a tough place, they know that many of the applicants aren't diehard about going to their institutions because they've applied to so many other schools at the same level. So they can't just take the top scores and call it a day. If they do that, they'll all be admitting the same kids and many of those admittees kids aren't going to attend because they'll be going to the other elite schools that also admitted them.

So schools have to try and tease out which of the increased number of perfect score kids are actually serious about their school over their competitor's school. And that also means that they have to make sure they admit enough kids with less than top scores who are serious about attending.