Jump to content

When Selective Programs Become Flexible!


Recommended Posts

I have not just heard of this, but actually some friends of mine have experienced it. As international applicants, I do think -based on several elements- that the chances of admissions in comparison to the American citizens can be a bit more difficult for a variety of reasons which can be addressed into another topic, however, I'd like to discuss an idea here with the some 'selective' programs that admit some applicants with almost no selectivity.


I'll try not to make the topic long, but I find it important to define 'Selectivity', it's mainly a program admitting applicants with stellar qualifications, HIGH GPA's, strong LORs, great SoP, strong GRE.. but some of these programs drop the selectivity approach, and admit students with average or less than average qualifications and scores, and in comparison to their usual selective approach, those admits can be considered having a real low profile, in terms of scores, GPA..etc


The reason I concluded with such program is that some programs feel the urge and need to admit students with a specific background, for instance, a program in Middle eastern studies with some faculty research of interests are in the GCC Region, may be more flexibe in admitting applicants coming from Saudi Arabia, Qatar or UAE for instance or any other GCC state. Those faculty members may consider applicants coming from this area with less restriction despite the selectivity of the program, as those prospective students can be an added academic value not just for the faculty fields of expertise but to the program itself and its academic diverse. I have known a numerous cases of admits in programs claiming to be selective, but particularly admit the type of applicants I have stated, but surely, not all selective programs does this, and apparently there are some programs that need occasionally to approach this, these programs can be Political Science (especially comparative politics), Religion programs,  Sociology, and mainly the social sciences.


To conclude the topic, Selectivity can have a low impact in some cases to certain applicants to compensate/fulfill some academic fields of expertise.


Sharing your thoughts and opinions would be appreciated.

Edited by ambitiousfolk
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my opinion, I think you are thinking about graduate admission the wrong way. Graduate programs want to admit students that they believe to be the most beneficial to their program/department, not just the ones with the best GPAs, LORs, or test scores.


For some programs, they simply want the "best" candidates, regardless of background or experience or research interest. These programs believe that if you take the top people, they will do great work no matter what their interests are. Other programs have a different strategy where they try to recruit the best "class" at once. In these cases, the top 5 candidates might all have the same subfield interest but if they only want a max of 3 from any subfield, then some "lower ranked candidates" from different subfields might get admitted instead of some higher ranked candidates from a saturated subfield. That is, the program is being selective at the holistic class/cohort level, not at an individual level.


In addition, factors such as GPAs, GREs, LORs, research experience measure more than just individual skills. Some students, based on their family socioeconomic background, or gender, or race, or sexual orientation, etc might have different opportunities to fully demonstrate or develop their skills. For example, consider two students with a 3.7 GPA. One student did really well in high school and had a full ride scholarship. Another student did not do as well in high school but worked really hard in college to get the same GPA. In addition, the second student worked a part time job during the school year and full time in the summer in order to earn money to pay for college. Even though the GPA is the same, I do not think they tell the program the same thing about both students.


So, my point is that grad schools want to admit people that they feel are the best for their program. Sometimes this is GPA based, sometimes it's GRE based, sometimes it's personal history/experience based (as in your example), etc. I do not think this is "flexibility" or some kind of decrease in selectivity as you might be implying. Instead, all of these factors are equally valid and important for schools to consider. I would argue that all of these factors are potentially part of the school's decision and "selectivity". Of course, which factors are important to each school will vary. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

a program in Middle eastern studies with some faculty research of interests are in the GCC Region, may be more flexibe in admitting applicants coming from Saudi Arabia, Qatar or UAE for instance or any other GCC state.


I doubt it, since country of origin has very little to do with your research ability or interests.  There might be a white girl from Minnesota who's really interested in gender roles in the GCC region and who has the stats to back it up.  Simply being from the region of interest doesn't add "academic value".


Programs do, of course, consider factors other than test scores and GPAs when admitting students - but that doesn't mean that they are relaxing their selectivity.  It just means that they have determined that there are other factors that go into student success, like fit with the department and the recommendation of other scholars.  So yes, a student with a 3.4 may get into the department over a student with a 3.5, if the 3.4 had a better fit with the department or if Professor X knows the student's undergrad thesis mentor.


Other than that I'm not really sure what you're asking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use