What determines a college's admission policy?

A friend of mine was just rejected for admission to a pharmacy school at a moderately prestigious private Baptist college. While I know that the entry into the program is highly competetive, this still stunned me because:

1- the student applying has a 4.0 GPA in undergraduate (double major: English and Chemistry)
2- had excellent references
3- scored in the top 2 percentile on the national standardized Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)

He didn’t even receive an interview. I’m baffled and can’t think of any reasons for such an exclusion; I’d assumed he’d have no problem going anywhere.

Any ideas what such places look for when they’r doing admissions? I’ve only worked for public colleges, but they were all obsessed with getting people with high standardized scores.

The formal admissions policy for any university is set AFAIK by the Board of Regents. I’m assuming this is a private university, so they can exclude for pretty much anything they want (I’m not an expert on how much if at all private religious colleges are bound by affirmative action court cases but IIRC religion can’t be used as a pretext for racial discrimination). Maybe your friend has a “Jewish sounding” name or something, or maybe his references did. Maybe his undergraduate college is one of which the Baptists don’t approve. Good luck getting an answer from the college.

Colleges have a lot of leeway and, as long as they don’t come into conflict with civil rights law, they can choose whoever they want.

It’s not just GPA and standardized testing. Other factors include:

[ul]
[li]Where is the student from? If the college generally attracts students from, say, Texas, then students from outside of Texas interest them more.[/li][li]Extracurricular activities[/li][li]Sports[/li][li]Is the student a child of an alumni?[/li][li]Is the student from a group they’d like to see more of on campus?[/li][li]What was the pattern of the student’s grades? Did the GPA go up, down, or remain the same over the course of HS?[/li][li]What sort of personal impression did the applicant make on the admissions officer?[/li][/ul]

[QUOTE=Sampiro

1- the student applying has a 4.0 GPA in undergraduate (double major: English and Chemistry)
2- had excellent references
3- scored in the top 2 percentile on the national standardized Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)

He didn’t even receive an interview. I’m baffled and can’t think of any reasons for such an exclusion; I’d assumed he’d have no problem going anywhere.

Any ideas what such places look for when they’r doing admissions? I’ve only worked for public colleges, but they were all obsessed with getting people with high standardized scores.[/QUOTE]

In the last 10 years, competition for slots in pharmacy schools is insane and “p” schools are exceptionally picky and comparitively few. His grades are indeed excellent, but in this era of grade inflation, perhaps not as remarkable as 20 years ago. Also, scoring in the top 2 percentile translates into hundreds of others of similar scores, I’m guessing. If he is a minority or comes from a lower SES, that’s a possible admissions advantage, given the general diversity push. Being Baptist may also help. Did he write an essay of any kind? He may have struck the admissions committee as just another high-achieving bland candidate. Some applicants, I’m guessing, have some kind of pharmacy exposure, whether as former techs or pharmaceutical industry types. BTW, the best undergrad schools routinely reject applications like your friend. A last thought: he didn’t receive an interview. Did he attempt to talk to someone inside, independent of the formal application process?

A couple of things to consider:
[ul]
[li]What courses did he take in undergrad? Were there any notable gaps, e.g. little to no biology, math, or physics?[/li][li]Where did you he go to college? No offense, but while the University of Alabama is a good school, an applicant from Princeton or Michigan with an equivalent application will have an advantage.[/li][/ul]

Until last Friday I worked on the central application processing software for the vast majority of the Pharmacy schools in the US. It is extremely competitive, with roughly 20,000 applications for a relatively small number of open slots. The schools have many fully qualified applicants for each position, so they can afford to be choosy.

Many schools weight the personal essay and related questions heavily, and some just are quirkly. With lots of applicants, they can afford to be.

Otto is right, as it everyone else.

Basic admissions requirements will be set by the faculty in the program, generally. For a grad program, that might be a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, maybe some years of foreign language study, x years of science (if it’s a science program), y semesters of math, maybe a minimum score on entrance exams, etc.

But who gets in, in any given year, is going to depend on the volume of applications. If you’ve got dozens (or hundreds!) of applicants who meet the basic admissions requirements for every space in the new class, the programs are going to do some picking and choosing. Generally they narrow things down by becoming more selective on academic measures like GPA and entrance exam scores. Then they may also look for other factors that will differentiate between candidates, fulfill institutional goals, etc. Since your buddy had good scores/grades, I presume that it was a highly competitive situation.

It probably has little to do with their policy in general, and everything to do with the number of people who applied to that program.

I am under the understanding that professional schools are also on the look out for red flags that suggest a person may decide, 18 months into the program, that they don’t like the profession and want to leave. No work experience in the profession is one of those flags, and I notice you don’t mention if your friend has any work experiece. My best friend graduated from college with a 3.9 (chemistry) and excellent test scores, but was turned down the first year she applied from vet school because she had little vet experience. She got a job at a vet, worked a year, and was accepted the next year. She did fine in the program, and is now a vet.

Another thing. I mention this because it took place in Alabama, Sampiro, which is where you are. According to her, Auburn’s vet school typically only accepts one applicant from each Alabama college each year: they could fill their ranks with perfectly qualified graduates from Alabama schools, but they want students from all over. Mayhap this pharamcy school has a similar self-imposed cap? If so, and there was a truley stellar applicant from Tuscaloosa that year, perhaps they simply discarded everyone else–it would explain not even getting an interview.