Q&A: When doing college admissions, what would be a more reliable source, guidance counselor or internet people?

Question by Lolz: When doing college admissions, what would be a more reliable source, guidance counselor or internet people?
Okay so my nephew is having an issue. His SAT score is very high but his GPA is mediocre, his guidance counselor is telling him to apply to at least one reach school like Stanford or Yale but the people on sites like college confidential are telling him not to waste his time.

Also I have found that the information on college confidential contradicts the information most guidance counselors, college admissions officers and others give out.

Is college confidential really that reliable of a site?
funny thing, I actually found this question

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080714034819AAGiGtL

Best answer:

Answer by K
Ask someone named hmom5. She’s pretty much right about everything…

CC is pretty reliable, you just have to sort through the stupid optimists (3.5 GPA is okay, just apply to Harvard and Princeton) and stupid pessimists (Only 2300? LOL! Retake that).

CC is more reliable than the average guidance counselor, especially one that doesn’t often send kids to top 10 colleges.

Top colleges try to underplay the difficulty of admissions. Princeton says “admission to Princeton is quite difficult”. In reality it’s amazingly difficult.

CC people will tell you that if you’re not a VIP case, you need to be the absolute best in your high school to have a good chance. This is correct.

Harvard might say “Oh, we’re looking for personality” and all of that jazz but you need to be a top student first. That means top GPA and top scores.

CC is mostly correct. Listen to the most pessimistic advice you can find on there (unless it’s completely unreasonable like someone telling you to retake a 2300 SAT score).

Most people are absolutely clueless about admissions at top colleges. People on CC know a lot more.

I’ve learned that about 40% of seats at top schools are not for traditional students but are reserved for the likes of athletes, minority (Black, hispanic) students, legacies (kids who are connected through family), and children of donors. 60% is left for the top students and the competition to get one of these non-VIP seats is amazingly harsh.

Think about it, if the top 25% of Harvard has a math SAT of 790 or above… that’s probably not the athletes who are getting those scores. The VIP kids make up the bottom end of the class and the regular kids must make the upper… and these regular kids have outstandingly amazing credentials.

If you can’t compete, don’t apply. There are no miracles in this game.

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5 thoughts on “Q&A: When doing college admissions, what would be a more reliable source, guidance counselor or internet people?”

  1. Your nephew should still apply to those schools. It all depends on the interview. Just make sure he boasts up his high school resume with voulnteer work, extracurriculars and great recomendation letters! He did well on his SAT, so that will help his low gpa out a little bit.

  2. First answerer is extremely incorrect, from my personal experience I can tell you that college confidential is indeed a penis measuring site. Students brag about made up stats and made up GPAs, there are people who write their own rules when it comes to college admissions as well.

    I tell a lot of my friends to stay away from that site, it is a waste of time and a waste of attention. The college admissions process is complicated and hard to predict, a top valedictorian with a perfect 2400 score and tons of ECs may not make it into Harvard while a student with a 3.8 GPA and a 2100 or 2000 SAT score may make it to Harvard.

    It is hard to tell, plus most of the people on that site are disgruntled anyways, as for the Hmom person, that was the same person who told me I had no shot at Harvard but guess what, I was accepted into Harvard, Cornell and Columbia.

    Tell your nephew to do more productive things with his time, work on getting good grades and finish up those applications. College confidential is not a reliable source of information at all.

    K was probably paid by college confidential to give out false advice, the site is entirely unreliable. 80 percent of the stuff on there is BS and as for the top posters, well they can make up stories too. The whole site is a waste of time and a waste of energy, a lot of the people on there are morons who probably didn’t even get to college.

  3. A reach school is just that–a reach. The chances that your son will get into a school like Stanford or Yale are pretty slim, but not zero. College counselors are going to recommend that students apply to at least one school whose standards are just a little bit above what you think you can get into. That’s not a bad idea because, after all, who knows? It also shows the other schools he’s applying to (they always ask what other schools you’re applying to) that he’s confident and ambitious and aiming for the top (assuming that it’s not too far-fetched). They might even think, “hm, there’s a small chance he’ll get into that better school, so if we want him here, we’ll have to offer him a better scholarship than they will.”

    But some caveats… First of all, don’t get your hopes up. Secondly, make it a reach school that your son would actually want to go to if he did get in. Third, maybe look for reach schools that are not quite as high profile as Stanford and Yale. There are schools besides Stanford, Yale, Harvard and Princeton that have high standards and quality of education on par with these–and grad schools and most employers will know that–but that get a lot fewer applicants because the average high school senior doesn’t. They would still be a reach, but a slightly more plausible one, and if it’s a small liberal arts college, they will look more closely at things other than SAT and GPA (if other parts of his application are impressive).

  4. You’ll get both good and bad answers from CC, Yahoo Answers, guidance counselors, and from College Admissions.

    Yahoo Answers and CC both have a lot of Responders who flat out don’t know what they’re talking about. They can be either too optimistic — eg “Follow your dreams. Don’t listen to the haters”, or, less often, too pessimistic.

    Guidance Counsels can either be very sharp, or they can be clueless. Depends on the High School.

    College Admissions Officers say whatever is in the interests of their college. Sometimes this meshes with the student candidates’ interests. Sometimes it doesn’t.

    In short, you can’t be sure who has the right answer. At best, you might see some obviously good and unexpected insight, or a convergence of opinion (unless the site is being gamed and spammed — as happens often on Yahoo Answers by worthless for-profit schools).

    For what it’s worth, you’re less likely to get a good answer on this forum about someone’s chances to be accepted to a particular university. You’re more likely to get good answers on questions about suitability of schools or career choices, especially when the responder is already in that career or has some special insight.

  5. What’s a more reliable source of news – a professional journalist or someone’s comment on a news story at cnn.com?

    What’s a more reliable source of sports information – a sportswriter or a Cardinals fan ranting at cbssports.com?

    What’s a more reliable source of medical advice – a doctor or your cousin Louie?

    What’s a more reliable source of investment advice – a financial counselor or a co-worker who can’t wait to tell you about his hot stock tip?

    College Confidential is as reliable as the person whose opinion you’re reading…and you have NO idea a) who that person is, b) what experience they have with the college admissions process, c) their biases, d) their motives for participating at CC, e) anything at all about how to judge the value of that opinion. In short, College Confidential isn’t worth much because of what you can’t know about it.

    I try very hard on Y!A not to make pronouncements about college admissions. I’m not an admissions officer and never have been. My answers here are based as much as possible on quantitative information available from sources like College Board and from universities’ own web sites. Without knowing all the particulars of someone’s application package and, most importantly, how that application compares with all of the thousands of others received by the same school, no one here or on any other site can claim to know what will happen with that application.

    Since I’m working with limited information about your nephew, I’ll hedge my bets even more than usual. Let’s assume that a mediocre GPA means 3.0-3.2 and that a high SAT score means 2200. If my guesses are in the ballpark, Stanford and Yale would be in some category beyond “reach”. My assumed GPA would be in the bottom 1 (one) percent of Stanford’s most recent freshman class. The SAT score would be competitive there but not exceptional – probably in the top 30-35 percent of new freshmen. Yale doesn’t report GPAs of entering freshmen, but does report that 25 percent of its most recent admits scored 800 on the SAT Critical Reading, 780 or above on the SAT Math, and 790 or above on the SAT Writing. Without some exceptional strengths reflected in other areas of his application, your nephew would stand next to no chance of admission at either school. (Yes, that’s the same answer you’re getting from College Confidential, but at least I’m telling you WHY that’s my answer.)

    Without knowing what he’s looking for in a college, I can’t really make any suggestions for other “reach” schools that offer a more realistic chance for a successful application. I would suggest he use the search tools at College Board or Princeton Review to put together a list of 5-6 schools that range from “safety” to “match” and 1-2 that would qualify as “reach”. That’s a reasonable number of applications to be working on and doesn’t make the decision of choosing just one of those schools next spring too daunting.

    Now, about those other “answers” to your question:
    – We’ve already covered the issue of whether College Confidential is “reliable” – it’s not. It’s definitely not more reliable than the “average guidance counselor”, who, after all, only goes through this every single year as part of his or her job.
    – Top colleges don’t “underplay” the difficulty of admissions so much as they try not to scare the crap out of every high school senior in the country and discourage even top students from applying.
    – I’m pretty sure no one on Y!A knows the admissions targets of ANY colleges, let alone how ALL of the “top colleges” divvy up their freshman admits.
    – Admissions to any college does NOT “all depend on the interview”. That would lead to colleges full of glib freshmen, admitted because they’re well-spoken regardless of whether they’re most likely to be the successful freshmen. Colleges group the factors they consider for admissions in reports to College Board as “Very Important”, “Important” and “Considered”. It’s very rare to see the interview listed as “Very Important”; it’s most often a “Considered” factor. Yale is an example of the latter. Stanford doesn’t require an interview. (I’m just saying…)
    – If your nephew is a senior (as I assume), it’s too late to “boost” his resume with volunteer work or extracurricular activities. His applications will include what he’s done up to now – six semesters of high school grades and activities – and the only update that most colleges will receive will be a final transcript next spring to confirm that he didn’t slack off after applying.
    – SOME, not all, colleges’ applications ask about what other schools you are applying to. They are not collecting this information to use in deciding how much financial aid to offer. They do not look at this information as a barometer of the applicant’s confidence or ambition. They collect that information to identify their “peer institutions” – i.e., what schools their applicants consider to be comparable to them. If it was this easy to rig the system, there would be thousands more applications to “top schools” every year from students whose goal was to manipulate, not matriculate.

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