Pick a college's name out of a hat, apply, get in, and have a fulfilling, productive, career-building four years. If only applying to college were that easy! This isn't a process that you can rush through, at least not if you want to put yourself in the best position possible to get into your best-fit school! That said, there is one often overlooked shortcut that can help you in your research, and that's looking at a school's class profile. To avoid missing out on crucial details about the schools you're considering, here are some tips on using this valuable resource.
What Is A Class Profile?
A class profile is essentially a report that lays out the qualifications held by the student body that was admitted during the previous academic year. You'll find demographics including ethnicity, gender, and even geographical representation. And while much of the information might seem irrelevant to you, there are three huge data points that you'll want to pay attention to:
- Average high school GPA
- SAT/ACT scores
- Acceptance rate
Of course, it's crucial that a school check as many boxes as possible on your college wish list, but it's no secret that getting into that school means you'll have to be the sort of student who appeals to that school as well. The best indicator of how well you match a school's criteria comes from scoping out the students who were accepted before you. Once you know where you stand among the competition, use the acceptance rate to determine how strictly the school sticks to those averages.
Where Can I Find A Class Profile?
If you have a college in mind, that school's class profile can typically be found by visiting their website directly. However, many college guidebooks will lay out this information in a way that lets you compare many schools at once as well. The Princeton Review's College Search in particular can be a great way to sort through schools on your list and determine your chances of getting in.
How Can I Use A Class Profile?
It's important to be realistic about what you can and can't change by the time you'll submit your college applications. For example, your high school GPA is the work of several years of coursework — and you can't go back to erase anything. On the other hand, your SAT and ACT test scores are representations of how you perform on those tests exclusively. Think of your test scores as a single game out of an entire season — it's much easier to perform well a single time than it is to change your overall record.
So if your GPA meets the average for the school you're considering but your test scores are much lower, there's still a chance you can do something to remedy that (as long as you've started your research early enough and implement proper test prep to increase your score!). But if the opposite is true, or both your GPA and test scores are lower than what's expected by the school, that's when you'll need to turn to the acceptance rate to determine your chances of getting in if you're not academically standing out.
With all of that in mind, you'll be well on your way to crafting your list of target schools. For more answers to all things related to your college search, check out our book College Admission 101.