The Academic Index (AI) is the system used by Ivy League universities to determine a student’s academic performance a rating.
What Is It?
This system is used to make 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. What was a system originally devised to evaluate student athletes is now being used in a wider scope by top schools to provide a quick comparison of college applicants.
How Is The Index Number Calculated?
In addition to using the grades from throughout a student’s career, the calculations for the index also use SAT I and SAT II scores or GPA and it also takes into account class rank compared to the size of the class. To over simplify this, it is essentially taking all of the numbers used to evaluate a student and combining them to come up with one.
According to the calculator provided by College Confidential, those that receive a score of between 180-210 are competitive and those that are scored between 210-240 are highly competitive. Below 180, students are considered average. This is only the scale used by this educational organization. Each institution tends to have their own way of using the AI to rank students.
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 they are applying to and see if the AI rating will apply to them.