eject

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Interesting stuff from one of my favorite legal blogs. The blog has particular interest in market theory and economics, so it occasionally reaches broad topics. Check this one out regarding the admissions process as a market, and how that affects the rational applicant's decision on how many applications to send out (it's ostensibly about college admissions, but I think the med school angle is obvious):

It seems to me — maybe — akin to the condition in portfolio theory that market prices in shares assume that risk that can be eliminated through diversification will be eliminated that way and will not be compensated for in share prices; the market assumes diversification. In college admissions, if large numbers of students diversify their risk by applying to a large number of colleges — diversifying their holdings of lottery tickets to those colleges — a student who fails to to diversify by applying to a large number of colleges will be penalized with lower odds of admission even beyond simply increasing the odds, other things equal.

Is this second proposition correct or is it not correct, or does proposition two merely collapse into proposition one? If there were only one student in the world applying, and colleges were not required to take any students at all, and if the chances of admission to any one college were genuinely unknown and uncertain as to the student, then presumably the student should increase the odds and hedge against the uncertainty by applying to more rather than fewer schools. That is proposition one.

The second proposition adds other students also applying. Given that they are also bidding for entry, and assuming the same unknowns, they will have the same reasons to increase the number of colleges to which they apply. So everyone ideally wants to apply everywhere. But if for some reason everyone else automatically applies to 100 colleges and you apply to only one, are your chances worse because of the fact that everyone else has applied to every available college? That is proposition two — the addition of new players to the game who hold in effect a diversified portfolio while you hold only one application, and unlike stock, you haven’t bought lots and lots of application lottery tickets to that college; you can only buy one.

My point is two fold, if I’m right. One is that there are two very good reasons, one intrinsic and the other strategic, for increasing without limit the number of colleges to which you apply. The other is that if you fail to do so when others do, you put yourself in a distinctly worse relative position. Is this akin to market diversification and compensation for bearing diversified versus undiversified risk? Am I correct in this analysis or not? If not, what am I missing or doing wrong?
Full post: http://volokh.com/2010/11/18/diversification-and-the-market-for-college-admissions/
 
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eject

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i meant to post this in pre-med allopathic. fail.
 

osumc2014

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I just read that and do not understand it at all...:confused:
 

Rollo

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Umm this is pointless.

He is seriously asking if you should apply to more colleges to increase your chances?

To answer his question, yes it makes sense to diversify to minimize your risks and maximize your gains. Just like investment...you should diversify your investments in the market to minimize your losses and maximize your gains.
 

osumc2014

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Umm this is pointless.

He is seriously asking if you should apply to more colleges to increase your chances?

To answer his question, yes it makes sense to diversify to minimize your risks and maximize your gains. Just like investment...you should diversify your investments in the market to minimize your losses and maximize your gains.
I would think this is different in that each one is an independent event, cause you can apply to 120 schools and they can all reject you, or you can apply to 2 schools and they can reject you no matter how many schools other people apply to if you just have a below par application over all. So I would think having a better application is much more statistically significant than just applying to a ton of schools
 

Rollo

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I would think this is different in that each one is an independent event, cause you can apply to 120 schools and they can all reject you, or you can apply to 2 schools and they can reject you no matter how many schools other people apply to if you just have a below par application over all. So I would think having a better application is much more statistically significant than just applying to a ton of schools
Yes, it makes sense to have a better application. However, think about it. Applying to 20 schools with good stats versus 5 schools with the same good stats.

What do you think will happen to your chances in those 2 situations?
 

osumc2014

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Yes, it makes sense to have a better application. However, think about it. Applying to 20 schools with good stats versus 5 schools with the same good stats.

What do you think will happen to your chances in those 2 situations?
that depends on which schools you are applying lol, if its all reach or not, basically we both agree on OPs "argument" doesnt make much sense and is not the major factor in application process (ie: apply early, apply to safety schools and rock the interview)
 

hrandani

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It's pretty clear the blogger is saying that this is unsustainable problem and there should be a limit to how many schools you can apply to. I agree. More people applying to more schools just leads to more money for the schools for the same result - admission.

If you have to apply to every school just to have a fighting chance then the admissions process needs to be revamped. College itself in the united states needs to be revamped but that's another topic for another day.
 

Rollo

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It's pretty clear the blogger is saying that this is unsustainable problem and there should be a limit to how many schools you can apply to. I agree. More people applying to more schools just leads to more money for the schools for the same result - admission.

If you have to apply to every school just to have a fighting chance then the admissions process needs to be revamped. College itself in the united states needs to be revamped but that's another topic for another day.
If you put a limit on how many schools you can apply to, you are essentially cutting down on competition. Competition is a good thing!

More money for school is inherently not a problem although what is a problem is HOW the school decides to spend that money. They can either spend it to build a better academic center or stuff their own pockets.

I agree that you shouldn't have to apply to 50+ schools to have a remote chance of getting accepted. However, I don't think the situation is that bad for college admissions.
 

osumc2014

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If you put a limit on how many schools you can apply to, you are essentially cutting down on competition. Competition is a good thing!

More money for school is inherently not a problem although what is a problem is HOW the school decides to spend that money. They can either spend it to build a better academic center or stuff their own pockets.

I agree that you shouldn't have to apply to 50+ schools to have a remote chance of getting accepted. However, I don't think the situation is that bad for college admissions.
the admissions money is crazy, imagine a schools that have 100 dollar secondary fees and 5000 people apply, that's 500,000 just from secondaries, kind of ridiculous, I would hope they use it for improvement of the institution.
 

hrandani

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If you put a limit on how many schools you can apply to, you are essentially cutting down on competition. Competition is a good thing!

More money for school is inherently not a problem although what is a problem is HOW the school decides to spend that money. They can either spend it to build a better academic center or stuff their own pockets.

I agree that you shouldn't have to apply to 50+ schools to have a remote chance of getting accepted. However, I don't think the situation is that bad for college admissions.
Pointless competition, or "Red Queen" competition is not a good thing. It's just more hoops for the same result.

It's clear that a lot of students like yourself have no grasp of what it's like to apply to colleges and medical schools from a position of poverty. I and other students simply did not have the money to apply to dozens of schools, fly out to interview, pay for MCAT prep materials and the exam itself. While some people see this lump sum of a few thousand dollars as a minor inconvenience a call to their parents can overcome, for others it can be insurmountable. But like you point out, it's great for the schools to earn a quick million.

The same went for college. While I was able to apply to one decent state school and got in, other students who didn't get in might have had a shot had they applied to 20+ schools like many are able to.

This has historically led to medical schools dramatically under-representing second generation immigrants and impoverished areas of the country, and while by no means is an absolute barrier, it seems to be heading that way again.
 

Rollo

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Pointless competition, or "Red Queen" competition is not a good thing. It's just more hoops for the same result.

It's clear that a lot of students like yourself have no grasp of what it's like to apply to colleges and medical schools from a position of poverty. I and other students simply did not have the money to apply to dozens of schools, fly out to interview, pay for MCAT prep materials and the exam itself. While some people see this lump sum of a few thousand dollars as a minor inconvenience a call to their parents can overcome, for others it can be insurmountable. But like you point out, it's great for the schools to earn a quick million.

The same went for college. While I was able to apply to one decent state school and got in, other students who didn't get in might have had a shot had they applied to 20+ schools like many are able to.

This has historically led to medical schools dramatically under-representing second generation immigrants and impoverished areas of the country, and while by no means is an absolute barrier, it seems to be heading that way again.
It isn't pointless competition. If you cut down the standards (i.e. put a limit on how many schools to apply to) and essentially make it so that almost every student in the country has a guaranteed seat in college, then nobody is going to work and study hard to get accepted. If you start putting a limit on how many schools you can apply to, you essentially take away the freedom of choice both from the student and the schools.

Thanks for assuming that I don't come from poverty, by the way. Blind generalizations are always a good thing!

There is a such thing called applying economically disadvantaged where your fees are waived. Not to mention your parents can claim education hope credits while you're in college on their tax returns. As far as I'm concerned, it shouldn't be terribly difficult for somebody from a poor family to be apply to as many schools as they wish since all of their fees can be and are being waived (Check the Pre-med forum, there is a thread there right now about somebody who is doing this).

Hate to break it to you, but "I'm poor and come from underrepresented population" excuse isn't good enough to change the rules of admissions process. Short people can't force the basketball organizers to lower the net so they have a fair chance at making the baskets; they can only learn to play the game better.
 
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osumc2014

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It isn't pointless competition. If you cut down the standards (i.e. put a limit on how many schools to apply to) and essentially make it so that almost every student in the country has a guaranteed seat in college, then nobody is going to work and study hard to get accepted. If you start putting a limit on how many schools you can apply to, you essentially take away the freedom of choice both from the student and the schools.

Thanks for assuming that I don't come from poverty, by the way. Blind generalizations are always a good thing!

There is a such thing called applying economically disadvantaged where your fees are waived. Not to mention your parents can claim education hope credits while you're in college on their tax returns. As far as I'm concerned, it shouldn't be terribly difficult for somebody from a poor family to be apply to as many schools as they wish since all of their fees can be and are being waived (Check the Pre-med forum, there is a thread there right now about somebody who is doing this).

Hate to break it to you, but "I'm poor and come from underrepresented population" excuse isn't good enough to change the rules of admissions process. Short people can't force the basketball organizers to lower the net so they have a fair chance at making the baskets; they can only learn to play the game better.
also there are tons of 2nd generation immigrants that are well off too, first generation asians (including indians) for example, most establish a good lifestyle for their kids, that's why they come here in the first place.
 

phltz

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It isn't pointless competition. If you cut down the standards (i.e. put a limit on how many schools to apply to) and essentially make it so that almost every student in the country has a guaranteed seat in college, then nobody is going to work and study hard to get accepted. If you start putting a limit on how many schools you can apply to, you essentially take away the freedom of choice both from the student and the schools.
You're conflating two totally separate possible changes: reducing the number of applications that any one applicant sends out, and increasing the number of seats in schools (or, equivalently, somehow reducing the number of applicants). These two changes have nothing to do with each other. Either one could be enacted on its own, neither could happen, or both.

Lowering the ratio of applicants to seats would improve the odds of being able to attend a school for every student. So it might be expected to reduce the impetus to work hard, as you suggest. Lowering the ratio of applications to applicants, however, cannot improve the odds for every student, as a simple mathematical fact.

There is a such thing called applying economically disadvantaged where your fees are waived. Not to mention your parents can claim education hope credits while you're in college on their tax returns. As far as I'm concerned, it shouldn't be terribly difficult for somebody from a poor family to be apply to as many schools as they wish since all of their fees can be and are being waived (Check the Pre-med forum, there is a thread there right now about somebody who is doing this).
My understanding is that the economically disadvantaged fee waiver only goes so far. It only gives you a certain number (maybe 10?) of free primary applications - after that you need to pay the extra per-school fee for the primary AMCAS app. If you wanted to apply to a large number of schools, this could add up to a fairly large sum.

While most schools will waive the secondary fee for such applicants, airlines, cab companies, dry cleaners, hotels and restaurants do not typically waive or discount their fees for disadvantaged students. A poor student who applies to a large number of schools may struggle to afford to attend all of the subsequent interviews, assuming he has a competitive application.

I've heard of people applying to upwards of 50 medical schools. Yes, I think it'd ridiculous, and no, I don't think it really gives them that much of an edge over someone applying to, say, 20, or even 10. But it probably does help a bit, and it's almost certainly out of the question for a truly strapped applicant, fee waiver or no.

So yeah, it could be difficult for someone from a poor family to apply to as many schools as they wish.
 

bookfreak89

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Pointless competition, or "Red Queen" competition is not a good thing. It's just more hoops for the same result.

It's clear that a lot of students like yourself have no grasp of what it's like to apply to colleges and medical schools from a position of poverty. I and other students simply did not have the money to apply to dozens of schools, fly out to interview, pay for MCAT prep materials and the exam itself. While some people see this lump sum of a few thousand dollars as a minor inconvenience a call to their parents can overcome, for others it can be insurmountable. But like you point out, it's great for the schools to earn a quick million.

The same went for college. While I was able to apply to one decent state school and got in, other students who didn't get in might have had a shot had they applied to 20+ schools like many are able to.

This has historically led to medical schools dramatically under-representing second generation immigrants and impoverished areas of the country, and while by no means is an absolute barrier, it seems to be heading that way again.
Medical school: FAP - 14 (max) primary applications fees, all secondary fees are waived, and MCAT is reduced from $230 to $85.

Undergrad: fee waivers - SAT, ACT, SAT IIs, (AP Tests?), and college application fees are all waived and there is no limit. (Although in California, you can only apply to 4 UCs for free, you pay for each additional one after that.)

My understanding is that the economically disadvantaged fee waiver only goes so far. It only gives you a certain number (maybe 10?) of free primary applications - after that you need to pay the extra per-school fee for the primary AMCAS app. If you wanted to apply to a large number of schools, this could add up to a fairly large sum.

While most schools will waive the secondary fee for such applicants, airlines, cab companies, dry cleaners, hotels and restaurants do not typically waive or discount their fees for disadvantaged students. A poor student who applies to a large number of schools may struggle to afford to attend all of the subsequent interviews, assuming he has a competitive application.

I've heard of people applying to upwards of 50 medical schools. Yes, I think it'd ridiculous, and no, I don't think it really gives them that much of an edge over someone applying to, say, 20, or even 10. But it probably does help a bit, and it's almost certainly out of the question for a truly strapped applicant, fee waiver or no.

So yeah, it could be difficult for someone from a poor family to apply to as many schools as they wish.
-It waives 14 primary applications max, all secondary fees, and reduces MCAT costs from $230 to $85.
-There is a way to do everything you listed cheaply (except for flights).
-The FAP does reduce a lot of the financial costs in my opinion. It may not get rid of all the costs completely, but at least that option is there for students from poorer backgrounds.