College Scattergrams

If you’re getting ready to apply to college, you’ve probably compiled a list of schools you want to apply to. You have probably thought about each school’s acceptance rate to try and maybe tried to figure out your chances of getting into that school.

But, a school’s acceptance rate won’t tell you much about your chances of getting in. Instead, you’ll be better off looking at college admissions scattergrams.

We’re going to tell you everything you need to know about college scattergrams and how accurate they are. This way, you’ll be able to build a solid list of schools to apply to.

What Are Scattergrams?

Scattergrams are graphs that show your GPA and test scores in comparison to other applicants at a particular college. The ‘other applicants’ are students from your high school who have applied to that same college over the last few years.

To access scattergrams, you’ll need to log in to Naviance through your high school’s account. Naviance is a tool that high school counselors use to help their students navigate the college process. Every high school has different policies on Naviance. Check with your guidance counselor to see what their policies are.

How Do Scattergrams Work?

Scattergram graphs show students as icons of different shapes and colors. Every color and shape represents a different application status

The vertical axis of the scattergram represents GPA while the horizontal axis represents the test score. Every point on the scattergram represents a different GPA and test score combination. You can hover your mouse over an icon to see more information about the student. When you are logged in to Naviance, your own student profile is represented by a star in the scattergram.

By comparing the place of your icon to the other students in the graph, you can predict the probability of you getting admitted to the school based on test scores and grades. If most of the admitted students have better results than your yellow star, this means the school is a ‘reach school’ for you. If your yellow star is in the same range as other admitted students, this means that your stats are similar to students who have been admitted in the past.

Are Naviance Scattergrams Accurate?

If you are applying to schools that rely heavily on GPA and test scores, scattergrams can be a very helpful tool. This is often the case with large public universities. While scattergrams won’t tell you your chances of getting into a school, they will show you if you fall in a similar academic range for that school.

But, scattergrams do not tell a complete story. If you use scattergrams, you must take them with a grain of salt.

Scattergrams only give information about a student’s test scores and GPA. While these are important, your acceptance to a college isn’t solely based on these factors. Your major, extracurricular activities, and college applications also play an important role.

Here are some circumstances where scattergrams are less helpful:

You are applying to an unconventional school where few or no students from your high school have applied. If this is the case, you won’t be able to compare your stats with other students.
You are applying to a school that doesn’t require standardized tests. Scattergrams can still help you figure out if you’re in the right GPA range, but they won’t tell you more than that.
You are applying to IVY leagues where many students have high grades and test scores. Students are waitlisted or denied despite high stats.
Accepted applicants applied for early decision. Scattergrams don’t show this information. An early decision needs to be considered when talking about admission rates.
The college’s admission qualifications have changed. The data in a scattergram is collected over a number of years and may not reflect current qualifications.
GPAs reflect students’ final GPA and not their GPA when they applied to college. Usually, GPAs fall in the final months of high school.
GPAs don’t reflect course difficulty. Colleges look at students’ courses when admitting them.
Scattergrams don’t reflect applicants’ demographics. Many colleges and universities consider race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status when admitting students.

Final Thoughts

If you have access to Naviance, it won’t hurt to take a look at scattergrams if you’re applying to more popular schools. The graphs can give you a general picture of where you fall in comparison to other students.

But, don’t rely only on scattergrams. They are a helpful tool to use but they aren’t 100% reliable.

Remember, you are much more than your numbers! If you have higher stats than other students admitted, there’s no guarantee you’ll get admitted. If you have lower stats, this also doesn’t mean you’ll get rejected.

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