How Necessary is a College Admissions Calculator?

When I was told about college admissions calculators, it was a foreign term to me.

After some Googling, and accidentally signing up for a whole lot of email lists, and researching what they are, I figured it out.

It’s a bit after my time, unless I just was out of the loop in my high school years.  It may have come in handy.  If only I’d have known about them before I spent some pointless money applying to schools that I didn’t even end up going to.

  • What is a college admissions calculator?

A college admissions calculator is on a website like www.CollegeData.com, or www.Parchment.com.  You enter all of your information, like your class standing, grade point average, and extracurricular activities and the calculator well, calculates your chances of admission to the schools of your choice.  The calculator has the school’s average acceptance rates in its system, so it claims to spit out some pretty accurate results.

  • Why would I use a college admissions calculator?

I can imagine that it would be a handy tool for a high school student, who isn’t sure what school they want to go to.  They can calculate their chances of being accepted without having to waste money on applying for schools that they don’t have the qualifications to get into. Who knows?  You might end up being qualified to get into a university you never expected to, and never would have bothered applying to in the first place.

  • Why wouldn’t I use a college admissions calculator?

Once you begin attending the school that you plan to graduate from, don’t log on to these sites.  They’ll have you looking up your chances of getting into Yale and Harvard (I wouldn’t have gotten in.)  You might also discover that you could have gotten into a school that you didn’t even bother applying for to begin with.  There’s also the sinking feeling that you might get when you receive a rejection letter in the mail after the calculator told you that you have a good chance of getting in.  Plus, call me old-fashioned, but I like the suspense of sending an application out and waiting for my letter.

I can understand why people would check these calculators out, because those application fees are just dumb.  They should be a jumping off point, though.  It’s something that can be used in a hypothetical situation, but it shouldn’t discourage people from applying to a school if it says it’s a “reach” for them to be accepted.  It worries me that some high school students will put in their information, excited to see if they’d be accepted to their dream school, and not apply at all if the calculator says that they may not get in.

Moral of the Story: These calculators can be a useful tool, but they should not be the be-all-end-all to your college planning. There are other factors that determine who would be accepted aside from the basic questions asked before you submit your information.  It does teach students not to put all of their eggs in one basket, though, and allows them some background information when it comes to backup choices.  The thing is, though, there’s nothing like those weeks of anticipation, then getting your acceptance letter from a school you applied to on a whim in the mail.

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Carmen Bojanowski

Carmen Bojanowski

Carmen Bojanowski is a senior at Eastern Michigan University, double majoring in journalism and communications. She writes for her college newspaper, mostly covering local bands and interns at 89x, a metro-Detroit radio station. She frequents the movie theater and when she has free time, she likes spend it with her friends. Carmen hopes to one day be a music journalist.