When I was a junior, I learned all about gambling in Honors Pre-Calculus with Mr. Barkdoll. We discussed the expected value of various casino games and the lottery. I learned, pretty quickly, that I should never ever buy a lottery ticket, even if the jackpot got as high as the Powerball did last night: $1.5 billion. Those two bucks would be better spent on a cup of coffee. What I didn’t learn, however, was the way admissions data and statistics should be used to develop my college list.
I’m embarrassed to say that in my senior year, I assumed that if a school had a 10 percent admit rate, I could apply to ten similarly selective schools and get into one of them. Those of you with even a passing familiarity with statistics know that it doesn’t work this way; I didn’t. And I didn’t get into most of the schools to which I had applied.