How accurate are CollegeVine admission predictions?
Right now CollegeVine is telling me my chance at UC Berkeley is 65%-71% and that it's a target. For NYU it says 82%-84%. I don't see how this is possible considering I set my intended major to Computer science which can be really competitive. I have some good stats but they are hardly better than the average student who applies to these schools for my major. I'm not an URM unless you count being a woman in STEM. Is this actually accurate or should I not get my hopes up?
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Hi! I'm glad you asked this question, and appreciate the discussion on this thread. I’ll try to outline how the chancing system works as best I can, as well as the proper way to “read” its results. Hopefully that helps make chances that might seem a bit odd in a vacuum make more sense.
First, you hit on something in your original question—while CS might be a competitive major at some schools (though it’s not necessarily *more* competitive than other engineering majors), being a woman in STEM will actually boost your chances quite a bit. It’s not exactly the same as being a URM, but our data demonstrates that it is a pretty significant hook, and that’s probably playing into your chances a bit. (As a side note, the UCs do not factor race into admissions decisions. So being Asian/not-Asian matters for a lot of competitive schools, but not for Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, etc.)
Second, for the chances themselves, the way to read them is not as predictions of what will happen, but as a rough gauge of what percentage of students *like you* will get into that school, based on our profile. Example: If you have a 70% chance for a school, then that means that, based on data from past students/people we've sourced data from/publicly released datasets, about 7 in 10 students with those stats were accepted. That said, we obviously can’t take things like the strength of your essays into account—and that’s typically what separates the 7 people who got in from the 3 who didn’t. If your essays aren’t strong, it will look like the algorithm heavily overestimated your chances. If your essays are extremely good, you might even get the opposite situation where you get into several schools CollegeVine marked as reaches.
And with that in mind, acceptance rate is actually a pretty bad barometer by which to gauge the competitiveness of a school. That’s because schools like Berkeley and NYU (as well as most other extremely competitive schools) get a LOT of applications from students who are below their academic thresholds—which means those applications get sorted out by an algorithm in their admissions office and usually never even get read. That means they get to basically auto-reject a bunch of students and artificially lower their acceptance rate, which then gets them a higher ranking the next year. (Schools will actually advertise themselves heavily to students who they know don’t have the stats to get in for this very reason.) What that means is that, if you’re above the academic threshold, your chances might look significantly higher than the acceptance rate—because, though it might not seem so, you’re actually well above the *average* student that applies to e.g. Berkeley or NYU.
As for where the data comes from, it’s a combination of 1) publicly available datasets, 2) interviews with students at individual colleges, and 3) several thousand students who went through our previous program between 2013-2019.
I hope that helps these numbers make sense. They’re not infallible, as with any probabilistic system there will always be outliers, but there are thousands of data points behind them!
I'm not sure about UCB especially if you're out of state. However, NYU has an acceptance rate of 27% so it definitely can be a target school. I highly doubt that collegevine manipulates data so that people use their site more. It's a non-profit and that doesn't make sense. They input what data they have and perhaps they don't have enough in some cases. Being an under-represented minority really boosts your chances A LOT. Likewise being not-Asian is a pretty big deal as well. With the exception of Tulane which has a very small Asian population so the chances aren't lower for Asians. The fact the algorithm takes that into account shows its validity. I really believe the chancing calculator is a solid foundation for knowing what schools are realistic although maybe not down to the percent.
Same, it says my chances for UCI and UCSB (my dream school) are 80-92%, which can't be true. I really wish it was true though. I have a 3.63 UW and a 3.85ish UC gpa (which is very low in my magnet school) and decent EC's, nothing great. The only thing I really had going for me was my SAT score, which was 1500+, but I think it will hold less weight since it's no longer mandatory. I think CollegeVine was accurate before. It also said my chances at UIUC (my safety-target) is like a 29% despite the fact that it's only hard to get in for impacted majors like CS/engineering, which I'm not doing.
Personally, I'm trusting the chances it showed before the update, not after. Mid and Upper tier UC's aren't safeties in most cases and are very random. Also look at PrepScholar chances, it gives you a a bit of an idea of where you're at. My PrepScholar chances for the UC's I mentioned are around 40ish%, which is reasonable. But CollegeVine is saying these schools are safeties for me, which definitely isn't true. I think part of the problem might be the "demographic background", which says "The average accepted student with your demographic background at this school has a ___ GPA." I honestly doubt it's that low.
Trust your gut, and make sure to use more than one source of chancing.
It lists Case as a SAFETY for me (CS major too btw) even though I have a 3.4 GPA, 1400 SAT, and "Excellent EC's" Also it says the average person with my demographic background has a 1200 SAT. I absolutely refuse the average black accepted student at CWRU has an SAT score that is over 200 points less than the average. Especially when this data is nowhere to be seen. I think it shows higher chances of getting accepted to make people feel better about themselves so they use their website more. Especially when niche says my stats are 12% higher than accepted students shown. However, if collegevine were to show me where they were getting their stats, specifically the demographic stats, then I would be much more likely to believe that the results are more genuine.