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New Service Promises a Crystal Ball for College Admissions

Parchment.com uses data to show students colleges that are likely to accept them


With the college admissions season in full swing, every high school senior is wondering what schools they should apply to and where they'll get in. Sure, if you have a 2.5 GPA, you know for sure that you have zero chance of getting into Harvard. But what happens if you have a solid A-minus average? With hundreds of choices, picking a realistic dream school as well as some safety schools can be confusing. It's enough to make a student wish she had a crystal ball to tell her exactly which school will accept her, so she only has to apply to that one.

It may not be a real crystal ball, but through statistical modeling and crowdsourcing, a new free site, Parchment.com, claims to comes close. The service lets students "compare their chances of being accepted into different colleges and universities based on their academic records."


To use the site, a student simply has to create an academic profile, input her GPA, standardized test scores, activities, location and other information. The site analyzes the data and then, just like Netflix recommends movies based on your interests, Parchment.com shows students "colleges that may be a good fit for them based on the actual decisions and preferences".

The level of detail the site provides is pretty specific. For example, if a student wants to know which "colleges in the Northeast are preferred by students" with around a 3.75 GPA, or "when students get into both UC Berkeley and Stanford, which school do they typically choose to attend," it can provide a list of schools.

Parchment's parent company acquired a database of voluntarily submitted admissions results from over 100,000 college applicants. That means students can browse the profiles of their peers to find out how their admissions chances would improve if they boost their GPA or take more honors or AP classes. They can also figure out which schools will look on them more favorably if they participate in more extracurricular activities or retake the SAT. And because these student users are encouraged to come back and input where they were accepted, the site keeps its information current.

Of course, no one can actually predict where a student will be admitted. With thousands of qualified applicants and limited space, schools simply can't accept everyone that meets their statistical ideal. But, given that students are clamoring for user-friendly tools that will make researching schools easier, Parchment might end up becoming a ubiquitous part of the process.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Justin Marty

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