Admissions

My First Choice Requested Quarter Grades From Classmates But Not From Me -- Is This Bad?

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I applied early to an Ivy League school, and I won't hear for a few weeks. They haven't contacted me. This wouldn't normally be a problem, but a few kids I know HAVE been contacted by this school requesting first-quarter grades. Is it a good sign or a bad sign that I haven't been contacted?

During this purgatory period between application deadlines and decision notifications, it’s inevitable that anxious seniors will search for signs of what’s to come. (“My white socks just turned Harvard Crimson in the wash! Is that an omen? Well, okay, maybe they’re more like pink.”) So keeping close watch on “competitor candidates” is almost unavoidable, too. However, it’s impossible to know for sure why your classmates were asked for first-quarter grades and you weren’t. Colleges and universities don’t all approach the assessment process in the same way, and thus there are several explanations for your situation. For instance:


Good news: Your candidacy is so strong that you’ve been passed along to the next level of evaluation without the need to confirm your latest GPA. Your classmates, on the other hand, are more borderline.

Bad news: In spite of great grades and test scores, the rest of your profile isn’t unique enough to warrant a request for additional grades, and your application won’t be moving to “committee” — or to whatever the next step is at your target college. Keep in mind that, at the hyper-competitive Ivy institutions, even perfect “numbers” don’t mean much if nothing else is truly special — and it’s tough to be special among such a high-achieving crowd.

No news: The application reading process can be somewhat random. It’s very possible that your classmates’ applications have progressed through the queue faster than yours for no particular reason. At most colleges, students from the same high school are evaluated by the same staff member but also by one or more other staff members who will not be the same. So it’s likely that these admission officials don’t move at an identical pace. Similarly, the admission official reviewing a classmate’s credentials may be persnickety about seeing the newest grades while the person reading your application is not. It’s possible, too, that your reader wrote directly to your guidance counselor to request updated grades, while another reader wrote to the student. Have you asked your counselor?

Whenever applicants attempt to second-guess their admission verdicts based on what they’re seeing — or not seeing — around them, they’re right about fifty percent of the time and wrong the other fifty. So the moral of the story is that it’s wise to seek out different distractions (writing even more application essays?) until the actual decision arrives.

Good luck!

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