According to a new article in the Atlantic, colleges are having an increasingly difficult time distinguishing between students who are academically accomplished and those who just look like they are.

College entrance exams like the SAT are harder to rely on because of renorming, which makes it harder to judge scores from year to year. In addition, it says, “half of American teenagers now graduate high school with an A average.” This is forcing admissions officers to go elsewhere to find indicators of how a student will do in school.

Each year, the professional association representing college-admissions officers asks its members about the top factors they consider when making decisions about applications. Grades, test scores, and the strength of one’s high-school curriculum still remain at the top of that list. But other criteria are playing a larger role than they used to: Students’ “demonstrated interest” in enrolling at a particular school, as measured by their visits to campus or what they say in their application materials, among other things, is critical. In addition, admissions officers at about half of the institutions surveyed said an applicant’s “ability to pay” was of at least “some importance” in application decisions.

Read the rest here.

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