Friday, November 22, 2013

Why do 74% of kids choose Yale over Princeton? Grade deflation?

While Yale’s ad hoc committee on grading examines grading policies, Princeton is reassessing its own experiment with grade deflation — a move Princeton’s new president attributes in part to concerns about a faltering admissions yield, according to the Daily Princetonian. ...

Most Yale undergraduates and third-party college admissions experts interviewed said that while grade deflation was not a decisive factor in causing students to choose Yale over Princeton, grade deflation does reinforce the perception that Princeton has a more competitive and less collaborative academic culture than Yale. ...

Since implementing grade deflation policies in 2004, Princeton’s yield has dropped from 73.1 percent for the class of 2007 — the last class to be admitted before Princeton’s grading changes were announced — to 68.7 percent for the class of 2017. ...

Of students who were admitted to both Princeton and Yale for the class of 2017, 74 percent chose Yale over Princeton, according to Parchment, an educational website that calculates cross-admit rates between colleges in America. Richard Avitabile, a former admissions officer at New York University and a private college counselor at Steinbrecher and Partners, said while Yale has traditionally held an advantage over Princeton, he does not recall the gap ever being as large as it is now.

Chuck Hughes, president of college admissions consulting service Road to College and a former admissions officer at Harvard, said that Princeton’s decade-long decline in yield can be attributed in part to the university’s stricter grading policies. Hughes added that although students will still choose Princeton over most schools, many of his clients have chosen Stanford, Harvard and Yale over Princeton, citing the difference in grading policies between the schools being one major factor. ...

[A] study published in July in the scientific journal PLOS One demonstrated that grade inflation helps students find jobs and be more competitive graduate school applicants. Samuel Swift, postdoctoral fellow at the Haas Business School at the University of California, Berkeley and the lead author of the study, said that when businesses and graduate schools consider applicants, they do not consider the grade distribution at the school from which the student is applying.
--Yuval Ben-David and Rishabh Bhandari, Yale Daily News, on the academic Phillips curve