Personal spreadsheet for college decisions

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otinkyad
Posts: 321
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 5:35 pm

Personal spreadsheet for college decisions

Post by otinkyad »

Someone asked me about this in another thread, so I thought I'd bore everyone to tears. We had an extensive, 44 column spreadsheet for gathering data and tracking status for colleges. We included 98 schools, every one that seriously attracted our eye, or sent mail or email. I've rated the columns we included from one star (not useful at all) to four stars (critical).

Some of the surprises were:
  • Merit deadlines. I had ED, EA, and RD down pat, even EA II, RD II, and Richard III, but some schools have an entirely separate application deadline to qualify for merit aid. Miss it at your peril.
  • How uninformative post-graduation salaries were. They basically track SAT scores just above linearly, and large variances are usually explained by majors, so polytechnics have high salaries and LACs have low salaries.
  • Admissions rates can vary dramatically by major, like between 3% and 63% at a school with a 30% admissions rate. The SAT scores and GPAs also vary considerably by major, and not always together. Look for more detailed data from schools when you can find it.
  • Rankings are hard, bring a salt lick. School #25 isn't better than school #36, or #115 better than #150, but yeah, probably #36 is better than #115. You may or may not care about the criteria used by a given ranking (I'm looking at you, US News). Rankings within majors are typically looking at the graduate programs.
  • Not that many schools consider interest (campus visit, request for info, virtual tours, admissions counselor contacts, etc.) as part of your application, but if they do, you should get the check mark.
  • On a personal note, the availability of other majors of interest and travel time just didn't have much influence on the decision process. The kid ended up choosing a school with the second fewest options and the hardest to get to, among those he was accepted to.
When we sorted the spreadsheet, it was usually on one or more of status, our personal stack ranking, 75th percentile SAT score, or one of the published rankings.

Subjective
Tier: reach, target, safety (actually split into 3+2+2 sub-tiers) ****
Status: rejected, gather [more info], consider [applying], apply, applied, denied, accepted ****
Reason: reason for the status *
Stack ranking: someone suggested doing this to make life less stressful in April and May ***
School Data
Name **** (duh)
Location **
25th percentile SAT ****
75th percentile SAT ****
Admission rate ***
Cost ****
Graduation rate (6 yr): **
Average Salary (2 yr): *
Average Salary (6 yr): *
Size: Number of undergrads ***
Programs: Which of the kid's seven majors or areas of interest are available ***
Freshman % living on campus: **
Undergrad % living on campus: **
% of in-state students **
Rankings (for the first 4: overall, CS, and engineering)
Niche ***
Princeton Review *
US News **
College Factual *
csrankings.org ***
Dorms + Food (Niche) **
Applications (**** unless otherwise noted)
Early Action deadline
Merit deadline ********
Regular deadline
Apply By: personal deadline, based on the above, teacher recommendations, and essay writing
Common App Mid-Year Update: ignored, self report, official, or unmentioned
SAT: optional, self report, official; essay; subject tests: no, recommended, required
SAT Code: four-digit codes were unused (*), but we noted official College Board submissions
Essays: N/A, ignored, optional, recommended, required, supplemental, honors
Teachers Recommendations: min–max [+ counselor recommendation]
Other Recommendations: min–max (coaches, employers, etc.)
Considers Interest: not considered, considered, important (color coded for status)
Applications: Common, Coalition, school's own (when required)
Miscellaneous
Source: mailing, email, family alumni *
Affiliation: public, Christian, Catholic, Jesuit *
Nickname: from the Engineers to the Dragons, just for fun **
Travel time and cost **
User avatar
Bogle7
Posts: 1044
Joined: Fri May 11, 2018 9:33 am
Location: Mountain state

Re: Personal spreadsheet for college decisions

Post by Bogle7 »

And, some people call me anal retentive.
I was an "Engineer".
Old fart who does three index funds, baby.
GreendaleCC
Posts: 200
Joined: Sun Dec 22, 2019 3:24 am

Re: Personal spreadsheet for college decisions

Post by GreendaleCC »

otinkyad wrote: Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:22 am Some of the surprises were:
  • On a personal note, the availability of other majors of interest and travel time just didn't have much influence on the decision process. The kid ended up choosing a school with the second fewest options and the hardest to get to, among those he was accepted to.
Perhaps travel time did, in fact, have a big influence on the decision process?
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LilyFleur
Posts: 1799
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2018 10:36 pm

Re: Personal spreadsheet for college decisions

Post by LilyFleur »

Hard to get into is good, and that school's name will always be on the resume.

My son's boss loves to say this to his clients: "I'll be bringing my associate, who graduated from Berkeley."

We had more travel costs, but being far from home helped the kid grow up :mrgreen:
livesoft
Posts: 76161
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Personal spreadsheet for college decisions

Post by livesoft »

Another column or two needs to be added:
Where are friends going
Where is boyfriend / girlfriend going

This will help student either avoid or embrace problem relationships
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.
just_learning
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:44 pm

Re: Personal spreadsheet for college decisions

Post by just_learning »

otinkyad wrote: Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:22 am Someone asked me about this in another thread, so I thought I'd bore everyone to tears. We had an extensive, 44 column spreadsheet for gathering data and tracking status for colleges. We included 98 schools, every one that seriously attracted our eye, or sent mail or email. I've rated the columns we included from one star (not useful at all) to four stars (critical).
......
Thank you.
just_learning
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:44 pm

Re: Personal spreadsheet for college decisions

Post by just_learning »

otinkyad wrote: Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:22 am Someone asked me about this in another thread, so I thought I'd bore everyone to tears. We had an extensive, 44 column spreadsheet for gathering data and tracking status for colleges. We included 98 schools, every one that seriously attracted our eye, or sent mail or email. I've rated the columns we included from one star (not useful at all) to four stars (critical).

Some of the surprises were:
Subjective
Tier: reach, target, safety (actually split into 3+2+2 sub-tiers) ****
Status: rejected, gather [more info], consider [applying], apply, applied, denied, accepted ****
...
School Data
Name **** (duh)
....
Applications (**** unless otherwise noted)
...
SAT: optional, self report, official; essay; subject tests: no, recommended, required
SAT Code: four-digit codes were unused (*), but we noted official College Board submissions
Essays: N/A, ignored, optional, recommended, required, supplemental, honors
Teachers Recommendations: min–max [+ counselor recommendation]
Other Recommendations: min–max (coaches, employers, etc.)
Considers Interest: not considered, considered, important (color coded for status)
Applications: Common, Coalition, school's own (when required)
Miscellaneous
...
A few questions if you don't mind-

What is 3+2+2 thing within Tiers?
Difference between rejected and denied? Rejected by student vs Denied by College?
Self Reporting SAT- does this mean SAT is required but student is required to self report?
What is "common app mid year update"?
Essays- I thought essays weren't optional...?
What is "considers interest"?

Thanks.
interwebopinion
Posts: 144
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:21 pm

Re: Personal spreadsheet for college decisions

Post by interwebopinion »

This is an accurate read of rankings. Some schools actively game them. The only reason why I think ED2 even exists is to massage the school's yield numbers (*cough* U Chicago *cough* WashU *cough*) which increases a school's rankings.

Some schools are way better than rankings would indicate. For example, Barnard which is part of Columbia University has a low US News ranking as compared to Columbia College. That's because even though they share buildings, courses, ex-curriculars and sports with Columbia, they are graded separately because they don't have their own facilities and sports. Kafkaesque.
otinkyad wrote: Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:22 am [*] Rankings are hard, bring a salt lick. School #25 isn't better than school #36, or #115 better than #150, but yeah, probably #36 is better than #115. You may or may not care about the criteria used by a given ranking (I'm looking at you, US News). Rankings within majors are typically looking at the graduate programs.
Topic Author
otinkyad
Posts: 321
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 5:35 pm

Re: Personal spreadsheet for college decisions

Post by otinkyad »

just_learning wrote: Sat Sep 05, 2020 4:44 pm A few questions if you don't mind-

What is 3+2+2 thing within Tiers?
“I shouldn’t have said that. I should not have said that.” —Hagrid
Difference between rejected and denied? Rejected by student vs Denied by College?
Yes. I picked words that sorted nicely....
Self Reporting SAT- does this mean SAT is required but student is required to self report?
It means that you can self-report it, and skip paying the College Board $12, unless you get accepted and choose to attend that school.
What is "common app mid year update"?
The Common App has a mid-year update in December so that high schools can report fall grades. Similar to SAT scores, the colleges may allow the grades to be self-reported, may require your guidance counselor to report them, or may not care.
Essays- I thought essays weren't optional...
There’s always an exception. This one was ASU, which only said that the Common App essay was not required. There were also schools that said they ignore the essay, or only recommend it, but most require it.
What is "considers interest"?
Demonstrated interest. Some schools protect their yield by considering whether a student actually showed interest in their school, by visiting, for example, rather than just adding them to the Common App like cannon fodder.
just_learning
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:44 pm

Re: Personal spreadsheet for college decisions

Post by just_learning »

Thanks.
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