Admit It! Part one left you intrigued and you want to hear more about what goes on in Committee. Hopefully part deux (a Hot Shots references for those readers who are old enough to remember the early ‘90s) will keep you coming back for more.
Overheard in Committee today: “How many students are in the senior class?”
Why do we want to know this? Class size can give us a great deal of context for evaluating a student’s class rank (if provided) and their level of extracurricular involvement.
Regarding class rank, when the senior class is very large (say 600, 700, 800 or more students — and yes, there are high schools out there with senior class sizes of even 1,000 students or more), being a high-ranking student is even more impressive. If you’re ranked number 3 in a class of 800 students, that’s no small feat and something that can impress the committee. If your senior class is small, say 50 students, being number 5 means you’re barely in the top decile and number 6 is outside of the top 10% but in a smaller class, rank becomes less of an indicative measure of comparative performance because the denominator is so small.
Regarding extracurricular involvement, we know that opportunities for leadership and advancement in extracurricular involvement can be competitive. That competition is only amplified when the class size is bigger. Admit It! It’s easier to nab a lead role or be elected student body vice president in a class of 50 than it is in a class of 550. There are simply fewer students competing for the same opportunities. That’s said in no way to diminish the extracurricular accomplishments of those who attend smaller high schools but it’s meant to give context to the types of factors we consider and the holistic lens through which we review applications. When class size is smaller, leadership is generally expected of applicants in some way, shape or form because you should be easily able to find your niche and excel in that niche when fewer students are competing for the same opportunities. When class size is larger, it seems unfair to expect leadership in applicants — and when leadership is present, it’s that much more impressive.
No doubt this blog topic is headed for a trilogy (and likely several sequels thereafter) so stay tuned.
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ’09
Senior Assistant Dean of Admission