New Data-Driven Online Tool Makes Applying To College A Lot Easier
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The College Match tool was unveiled this week by Parchment, a company that streamlines the electronic sharing of academic and professional credentials. Parchment's CEO Matthew Pittinsky recently gave us an online tour of this new tool to show how it works in real time.
First, students register for free and provide information about their grade point average (GPA) and SAT/ACT scores, their educational experience, and a list of colleges they're interested in attending. Using the College Match tool, students can see their statistical chance of acceptance to those schools alongside the average acceptance odds.
Individuals are then presented with a list of recommended colleges that they are likely to be interested in and accepted to. Those recommendations can be weighted toward a particular geographic area, but can also include schools throughout the country. Students can create a personally tailored list of schools they'd like to apply to based on those recommendations.
The College Match tool also uses each student's updated list and an algorithm to rapidly simulate the college admissions cycle thousands of times. After a few moments, the tool presents students with their percentage chance of getting into at least one college on their list, as well as an educated prediction of how many colleges on their list they will be accepted to.
Color scales, scatterplots, and graphs let users see their acceptance chances, how other students with similar GPAs and test scores fared in the admissions process, and the accuracy of the tool's predictions.
Pittinsky said students without the benefit of this tool are applying to an increasing number of colleges in order to feel confident they will be accepted to at least one school. But that affects the entire college admissions process.
"Students are applying to more schools and schools are becoming more selective in general because they're rejecting more students," Pittinsky told Business Insider. "That then makes them look even more selective which is the drive of applying to more schools. … It becomes a vicious cycle."
The College Match tool will let students create a more informed list of favorable schools to apply to, based on where they have the best probability of attending. That will help students save money on application expenses. It will also prevent college admissions offices from being flooded with applications from students who cast a wide net for the wrong reasons.
To collect the data driving the college match tool, Parchment relies on the reported data of its registered users, amounting to approximately 600,000 of the 3 million students in this year's admissions cycle.
However, Parchment cautions that the tool doesn't take into account less quantitative indicators of acceptance, such as application essays and interviews.
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