Is The Academic Index Important?

Cameron Devall
Cameron Devall

Cameron began his career as an English language teacher. After graduating from Heythrop College of Philosophy and Theology, University of London, he continued on to teach in Indonesia and Russia. Today, he fulfills his true passion by writing.

The Academic Index (AI) is the system Ivy League universities use to rank competitiveness of applicants. This score roughly determines a student’s academic performance with a numerical rating. So, what does it mean?

Firstly, this system makes comparing students to one another easier for admissions officers. This is essentially taking the entire record of a student’s academic career and boiling it down to a single number. In fact, this system originally served to evaluate student athletes. The method of scoring now factors in a wider scope by top schools to provide a quick comparison of college applicants.

How Is The Index Number Calculated?

The first data points included are the grades a student earns in high school. Next, the calculations for the index also use SAT I and SAT II scores. Additionally, it includes GPA, and takes into account class rank compared to the size of the class. To simplify this, the score takes all of the numbers used to evaluate a student and combines them. In the end, it comes up with one summary evaluation.

According to the calculator provided by College Confidential, students that receive a score of between 180-210 are competitive. Above that, those that score between 210-240 are highly competitive. On the other hand, students who receive a score below 180 are about average. Keep in mind, this is the scale that College Confidential created. Each institution tends to have their own way of using the AI to rank students.

The Importance

This may not seem like the fairest way to assess the academic achievements of a student but it is a reality in the world of competitive college admissions. Elite schools like Princeton and Dartmouth use the AI but not all of the elite schools find this helpful. It is obviously better to have a good score but not necessarily a hindrance if a student does not.

Students should understand the AI way of ranking students especially if their reach schools include some that incorporate the number into their admissions process. If your number does not happen to be in the top bracket of scores, this does not mean you will be disregarded. Schools use the AI as an initial benchmark or simply to reference as comparison but they also take into account a number of other factors. 

For most students, though the AI plays a role it is a small one with essays, personal accomplishments, activities and recommendations playing a bigger part in the admissions decision. Students should research the schools where they are applying, and see if the AI rating will apply to them.

Do you want to learn more about how data affects college admissions? At Empowerly, we have developed a unique tool and a series of digital trackers to help you calculate your competitiveness at top schools. Book a consult to learn more about the Empowerly Score and how we can help you with our unique counseling approach.

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