Naviance: Friend or Foe

By: Lizzie Crotty

If you are a Junior or Senior you probably know all about Naviance. If you are a Freshman or Sophomore you may have absolutely no idea. For those of you who don’t know, Naviance is an online database the school uses to offer you a chance to see how you stand in terms of college acceptance in comparison to previous applicants from HB. The site uses scattergrams like this fancy one:

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Your data point (ACT or SAT score as the x-coordinate, and cumulative GPA as the y-coordinate) is represented by a red circle, and you can see where you stand amongst the green squares and red X’s. Naviance is a fantastic way to compare yourself statistically to other applicants, but as all HB students know, these statistics do not define you.

When I first got my Naviance password I spent the next week or so looking at pretty much every school HB offered a graph of. Daydreams of Naviance scattergrams and hopefully upward-and-to-the-right moving red circles danced through my head. Okay that is a little bit of an exaggeration. I was slightly obsessed, but not THAT obsessed. Anyways, despite my frequent use of Naviance, I am quick to admit its faults.

First and foremost: your GPA and standardized test scores do not define you. Even if we are looking at this solely through the lens of the college admissions process, they are a big part of what colleges look at when they read your transcript, but they are certainly not the deciding factors. The college office will tell you that time and time again if you do not believe it yourself.

Another thing to keep in mind is that most people see an increase in their standardized test scores and GPA between the second semester of Junior year and Senior year. So while the scattergrams can give you an estimate of where you might stand amongst other applicants, it is not perfect. It compares you at a lower point in your academic career to others at their peak.

In my opinion, the most dangerous and damaging thing about Naviance isn’t actually Naviance itself, but the fact that it is an example of how greatly we as a society value the institution in which we spend our college years. “Ivy League Dreams” and “US News Best Colleges” come to mind when I say this, but the fact of the matter is this: where you go does not matter as much as what you do with it, and the people who will succeed in life do not succeed because of the college they attended, but because of the person they are.

The outcome of your college process does not define you. The number of acceptance or rejection letters you receive says nothing about who you are as a person. College admissions officers can’t see the way your smile can brighten up a room, how you can ease your friend’s pain with a joke, or your dedication to all the people you love. A piece of paper can’t accurately depict the way you catch fire when you make music, how you serve your community by simply holding a door or giving out compliments, or how the younger members of your sports teams look up to you. All of these things set you apart, yet none of them show up on Naviance.