Will I get into Harvard? Ask Facebook

    High school seniors are playing the waiting game this spring, nervously checking mailboxes and inboxes for news of college admissions.

    Now, they have another place to turn for answers: Facebook.

    AdmissionSplash, a Facebook application launched this month, is meant to take a bit of the guesswork out of the college admissions game. Students enter their GPA, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities and a few other details, along with a list of colleges. With the click of a button, the application will spit out how likely it is that the student will get into each college, on a scale that runs from very poor to great.

    Allen Gannett, one of the program creators, said he and his team developed a formula that works on about 1,500 schools based on admissions data for previously admitted students. He said comparing students’ information against the variables that schools are looking for is nothing new. They just developed a new way to analyze it.

    “Rich kids pay thousands of dollars to go to these private college counselors,” Gannett said. “We’re really trying to replicate that and make it free on Facebook.”

    In a test of a small sample of students, the formula was able to correctly predict whether 85 percent of students would get into UCLA.

    Gannett said the tool isn’t meant to predict the future, and definitely does not guarantee admission based on the limited criteria required. Rather, it is meant as a tool to help kids determine where it is reasonable to apply.

    “If I have scores X and GPA X, maybe I can’t get into Harvard,” Gannett said he hopes people realize.

    Still, some say kids are likely to take the results too seriously. Laurie Koehler, dean of admissions at Bryn Mawr College, said she worries that by oversimplifying admissions criteria, the tool sets kids up for disappointment. Worse yet, it could discourage students from applying to a school where they might be a good fit.

    “I have a concern that it adds to the hype that students already feel, those levels of stress,” Koehler said. “‘Oh gosh, maybe this will give them an answer that they can bank on.’ But that answer isn’t based on how the process really works.”

    Things such as essays, letters of recommendations and difficulty of coursework are left out. Still, Gannett said, if his application can get kids on Facebook thinking about college instead of planting crops in Farmville, that’s a step in the right direction.

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