(The following is a guest post by JJ Shaw, an incoming freshman at Columbia College, and pretty much sums up why you should never visit the “chance me” forums at College Confidential.)
College Confidential is “the world’s largest college forum.” Except in this world, 2400s aren’t merely enough.
It has a long history of feeding the egocentric tendencies of high achieving seniors. It inflates the self-worth of some, all while crushing the confidence of otherwise perfectly capable college-bound students.
1. It attracts the obnoxious.
Some describe the site as the one of the worst sections of the internet–a cesspool of elitist and overqualified applicants. Others see it more as a coagulation of otherwise stressed kids trying to relieve some of the pressure. With 17 qualified students vying for a single spot at the nation’s top colleges, one can only wonder what happens behind the scenes and beneath the veneer of anonymity.
2. Chance Me’s kill your esteem.
Let’s look at a popular post: the Chance Me thread, which has long been enshrined in College Confidential’s long history. The premise of Chance Me is straightforward: a person posts his own statistics (GPA, test scores, interests, or clubs) and seeks his chances of admission to a school from supposedly random CC members. Sufficient information is given, but not enough to identify the exact person.
Sam from New York:
Hello, my name is Sam. I was wondering if I could get into any colleges with these terrible credentials. Will someone please help me!?
Here it goes: 6.0 GPA (on 4.0 scale); Perfect SATs; President of 5 clubs and Vice President of another 3; Started 2 new clubs; Valedictorian of cohort; 5 hours of Community Service every week bar Sundays; Volunteered in Lagos to build homes; Wrote a Pulitzer Prize-ready College Application essay; Phenomenal recommendations from Michelle Obama; Captain of Ice Hockey, Soccer, Tennis and Rugby; Conductor of Jazz Band; Fluent in Greek, French, Chinese and Spanish.
Do you think I am ready for community college?
A cursory look and we know that “Sam” is a typical overachiever.
No 4.0 GPA? You’re out. Only President of 2 clubs? Get out of here. Asian without a perfect SAT? Good luck even getting an interview.
3. Liars are everywhere.
While Chance Me threads have traditionally been useful for students to benchmark themselves against their competition, it has developed over the years to be a dumping ground for cynical and often contemptuous students.
Potential posters lurk in the shadows of the Ivy League thread and post demeaning comments that discourage other applicants. They spread false rumor and sarcasm, often to the point of humor. The word on the street goes that these keyboard warriors will claw their way to regaining fractions of a percentage benefit of eventual acceptance to their dream school.
4. Fortune tellers are just round the corner.
Some CC regulars absolutely implore that one must retake a 2390/2400 for the SATs as top colleges demand perfection. Other seasoned members instead push test takers to try for a less than perfect score because “2400s are regularly rejected”.
And exactly once did I see the mysterious happen: 5 CC members collectively agreed that user1098, after publishing his collection of “stats,” had a 22.8 chance of getting into Yale. Harvard was then judged to be a “high reach” school for user1098, while MIT was very much “a strong possibility.”
College Confidential does indeed bring out the best of internet trolls.
5. College Confidential knows you’ll always come back.
While these threads may serve as an escape valve for much of the anxiety and nervousness surrounding the college admissions process, they almost always end up making the journey a whole lot more frustrating.
You’re always looking for the next post, the next chance me, and the next rant on how the admissions game has become so inhumane.
But every time that notification comes, a rush of dopamine shoots through your nerves: someone has finally “chanced you”–for a 29.8% chance at UC Berkeley.
Guesstimations from other applicants won’t help–but that email in late March will.