It seems like everywhere I go these days people want to talk to me about the college admissions scandal. They always ask me if I was surprised by what these families did, and they are surprised when I tell them I was not surprised at all.
College admissions is a game, and like any game you have to know how to play it in order to win. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not condone cheating. The fact of the matter is that there are many things that influence college acceptance, and the more you know about what college are looking for, the better your chances of admission.
For anyone who thinks that test scores do not matter, think about why these wealthy families were paying thousands of dollars to have people take the SAT for their children to boost their scores. SAT scores of incoming freshmen are one way that schools rise in the rankings to become more elite.
Simply put – schools will pay students with high test scores. This payment is typically in the form of merit scholarships, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, and are often good for all 4 years of a student’s attendance.
An acquaintance mentioned to me recently that her son was admitted to Northeastern University, but with deferred admission. He must complete his first semester abroad in Australian. In the last few years I have heard of a number of students who were accepted to the school of their choice with deferred admission. Parents ask me why schools do this.
Schools will admit weaker candidates (usually those who can pay full tuition) on a deferred status because the GPA and test scores for these students do not count towards the schools rankings for incoming freshman. Only the stats for the incoming fall students count for the rankings. It is often harder for students who are admitted as deferred students to acclimate to the campus when they arrive 5 months after their peers.
This discussion about how schools game the system to stay elite reminded me of an excellent article I read a few years ago about how Northeastern University became elite (see below).
If you have a student applying to college soon, one of the best things you can do is make sure they have high SAT scores. This is an investment that can reap big returns in the future!