This morning we officially launched our “virtual stars” system for every applicant who is applying to an undergrad program. We have already had a rush of students who are eagerly assigning their stars.
Every applicant who is applying to an undergraduate program in the U.S. will receive two “virtual stars” which they can then assign to two of their target schools. Each student will only receive two stars per admission cycle. Admission officers may interpret the stars however they like, but they know that students only receive two.
Since we interview a large percentage of international applicants for many top schools in the U.S., the goal is that admission officers will be able to use the stars to improve their yield predictions. In fact, it was admission officers who first suggested the idea to us, and we are excited to see how we can use our unique position in the admission process to better support both admission officers and students.
The idea was inspired by "signaling", an economic concept involving how one party attempts to credibly convey information about itself to a decision-maker. Most applicants to colleges have strong preferences about which school they attend, but they are currently limited in how they can convey such preferences. Other things being equal, admission officers would prefer to admit students who have a preference for their school.
There is no extra charge for this new feature. For those of you in need of a chuckle this Monday, we hope you enjoy the short video we put together that describes the feature.