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Do geographical demographics affect admission decisions?
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Hi,

I was just wondering if demographics play any role in college admission chances? I assume that colleges have quotas they want to fill in terms of geographic diversity, but I don't actually know. For example, if I applied to Northwestern University as a student from a rural town in Vermont where no one has ever applied to Northwestern before, does that matter? I attended a student panel where they said only 10% of their student body was from rural places, but they were working on upping that number.

Thank you to anyone who replies!

Northwestern
admissions
demographics
Also you doubleposted. Just a FYI
[edited]
yes- thank you! I realized that but I don't know how to delete my other one! If you or anyone knows please let me know!
[edited]
To delete questions you have to email support@collegevine.com. It’s not a huge issue however I just like having everything in one place. :-)
I did- Thank you!

3 answers

answered on[edited]
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So this depends but generally geography is based on 2 ideas: Bragging rights and institutional priorities.

Bragging rights is essentially can they say they have students from all 50 states and as Vermont is not super populated you may have an increased chance. Additionally schools may want regional diversity (New England) so saying we have a lot of students from around the country or a region so it may be something they want to brag about.

Priorities is hard to define exactly but it is best summed up in what a school wants to do better/what a school wants to focus on. If they have a priority of increasing rural student enrollment then it may help but it would likely be a tie-breaker between you and a student from Chicago for example not something that can “carry” your application.

But I do want to say town specific geography doesn't matter.

Hope this helps and feel free to comment if you'd like clarification as Id be happy to help.

Edited for grammar.

The rural town may be a good essay that says you had difficulty finding help with college admissions and therefore I preserved or something like that but its not something they would see oh this town has no NW students. Hope this makes sense.
answered on
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If college admissions offices get two identical applications one from Vermont and one from California, they might pick the Vermonter just because they want to make their campus more diverse. However, if the California applicant was a stronger candidate, then he/she/they would be picked. Top schools like Ivys care less about gathering students from all 50 states and 175 countries. There are only 1500-2000 spots so they would rather pick the best possible students regardless of where they come from. So if you are from Alaska and not brilliant you don't get bonus points that bump the kid from New Zealand or South Africa.

I think there is always a goal to make a student body as diverse as possible but you have to apply on your own merits and earn your spot no matter where you come from. Otherwise, all the Top schools would have a student population like the electoral college which is not the case, it's a half-truth.

That makes a lot of sense! Thank you for clarifying.
answered on
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Great question! In general, universities take a slightly larger percentage of students from their immediate geographic area (for Northwestern, this would be Illinois and the larger Midwest). It is typically slightly harder to get in if you're from elsewhere in the country unless you are from a state from which very few students ever apply or gain admission to the given school. Being from Vermont, you will likely be compared with other applicants from New England which probably won't do much to help your chances of admission. That said coming from a rural town and attending a high school from which no one as ever applied or gained acceptance to Northwestern before might make you stand out, particularly if you have an excellent application. And if Northwestern typically has extremely few students from Vermont specifically (I'm not sure this is the case), this could also help you a little as well.

It is important to remember, though, that these possible demographic adjustments in regards to geography won't make any dramatic changes to your chances of admission.