That legacy students or those whose parents make substantial donations will be accepted in spite of their grades.
The most exaggerated myths I hear constantly are 1) you can not go to college if you do not have the funds to go to college. abd 2) there is ONLY one school for me!
That fame and rank and selectivity equal good quality. A famous school is not necessarily a great – or even good – quality for undergraduates, and for you. And rankings are based on so many factors that have very little to do with undergraduate quality that they can’t be relied on as the only indicator of quality either. And selectivity? If it isn’t really hard to be admitted, it must not be very good, right? NOT! there is a school in the Midwest which is ranked among the best in the country for engineering, yet which admitted over half its applicants last year. Make your own criteria, do your own research, and make your own rankings.
High Grades and Test Scores alone doesn’t decide your admission.
One common and exaggerated myth is that the most important item on your application is your SAT/ACT scores. Whatever anybody might tell you, remember that the most vital item on your application is your transcripts. When an admissions officer is combing through all the applications, he/she is paying close attention to grades and classroom performance levels. High SAT/ACT scores help but they are by no means, any type of guarantee.
That college is not affordable is an exaggerated myth for many students. Low-income students can find colleges all around the country that seek them and will pay the majority of their expenses. Middle class students can find inter-state consortiums and apply to schools that have merit scholarships. The more strategic you are, the more options you will have.
Myth #1: Your SAT/ACT score is the most important thing in your application.
Myth #2: Most universities accept only a small percentage of their applicants.
Myth #3: A great interview can make up for a so-so academic record.
Myth #4: Colleges want to see a detailed résumé.
Harvard’s admissions office is sorting through thousands of applications for students who applied to the College under an early action plan, Harvard has implemented Single-Choice Early Action this year and has received more than 4000 applications.
The college personal statement is one of the most stressful parts of the college admissions process for seniors and their parents. But can an awful essay kill an otherwise great applicant’s chances of admission? Likewise, can a truly awe-inspiring essay lift a mediocre student’s chances? An admissions director for a selective college once said that the essay is more important than admissions reps will admit, but not as important as students and parents fear. The personal statement is important because it gives the reader a chance to see a part of the applicant that the rest of the stats, test scores, facts and figures alone can’t reveal. So students, take advantage of this opportunity to show who you really are!
I think one of the biggest myths out there is that “Joe Neighbor” got a full-ride scholarship to such and such a school. Whether it be for academics or athletics, it overwhelms me the number of people I hear about that receive a full-ride scholarship to college. Most likely a function of Ego or just difficulty with telling the truth, I have personally heard about students that I have worked with, and now, they are receiving a full-ride scholarship to a college. Many athletic scholarships pay for books, maybe a thousand or two off of tuition. Many academic scholarships can pay a great deal of tuition, but seldomly do scholarships just pay for everything. So many underclassmen get misled about the exaggerated stories or students (or parents) about their scholarship offers! I have so many freshmen students or parents walk into my office and say, “I want to know how to earn a full-ride scholarship;” like there’s just one magic one out there to get. In addition to the myths of the availability of full-ride scholarships, is the myth that people are just going to give me a scholarship. Scholarship applications are hard work. The students I know that earn a great deal of money (maybe piecing together close to a full-scholarship when it’s all said and done) put in 100’s of hours in researching, writing essays, and applying for scholarships…scholarship committees don’t just “give” away scholarships.
Applying is not all that hard. Too much pressure has been placed on the application process. Step back for a moment and let’s dissect it. You fill out our name and address. You complete a resume, which you should have been working on up to this point. You complete a personal statement less than 250 words. You complete an essay most likely under 500 words. No big deal. You write essays in high school that are 5 times the amount of a 500 word essay. I tell students to work on their essay about 10 minutes at a time. Don’t stress over it. Work on it, come back to it, revise it, and move on. If you have to fiddle with it too much, then the essay is not authentic. That is the biggest hang up students have about the application process.
1) It is easy
2) It is hard
3) It is quick
4) You need all A’s
5) You have to take hard classes
6) You have to take classes that you can get an A in but not challenge yourself
7) The personal statement does not matter
8) Letters of recommendation are not that important
9) Only geniuses can get into Ivy League Colleges
10) Ivy League colleges are the best
11) Have to have a major when you apply
12) Have to make a lot of Money to pay for college
13) Getting into state schools are easier than private or vice versa
I think one of the biggest myths out there is that “Joe Neighbor” got a full-ride scholarship to such and such a school. Whether it be for academics or athletics, it overwhelms me the number of people I hear about that receive a full-ride scholarship to college. Most likely a function of Ego or just difficulty with telling the truth, I have personally heard about students that I have worked with, and now, they are receiving a full-ride scholarship to a college. Many athletic scholarships pay for books, maybe a thousand or two off of tuition. Many academic scholarships can pay a great deal of tuition, but seldomly do scholarships just “pay for everything.” So many underclassmen get misled about the exaggerated stories of students (or parents) about their scholarship offers! I have so many freshmen students or parents walk into my office and say, “I want to know how to earn a full-ride scholarship;” like there’s just one magic one out there to get. In addition to the myths of the availability of full-ride scholarships, is the myth that people are just going to give me a scholarship. Scholarship applications are hard work. The students I know that earn a great deal of money (maybe piecing together close to a full-scholarship when it’s all said and done) put in 100’s of hours in researching, writing essays, and applying for scholarships…scholarship committees don’t just “give” away scholarships.
Probably the biggest myth is that the college admissions process is so competitive that that an average student will never get into a good school and even the stars are unlikely to go where they want. It is critical to realize that there are literally thousands of colleges and universities in the United States with each having their own set of admissions standards and different programs. The result is that there can be a home for every qualified, college ready applicant. Once a prospective student gets past the myths, the scuttle butt, and the outside perceptions and focuses on finding the school that is right for them, the process will not only be much smoother, but the likelihood of it ending in a productive and rewarding way is much greater.
The biggest myth I would like to dispel is that there is one perfect school for each applicant. Most of the students with whom I work are great students who will be happy and successful at a vast number of schools throughout the country. Keep an open mind and you will end up with multiple great options.
This can vary by school, but a lot of people who haven’t worked inside college admission offices think that at even larger schools 15,000 students and beyond, you have some suit-wearing admission committee that sits around a mahogany table and scrutinizes every applicant. This typically doesn’t happen at larger schools simply because there is not enough time. Fact of the matter is, many students who apply are either accepted or denied pretty quickly, just based upon things like their GPA, test score, and strength of curriculum.
Students think colleges are looking for well rounded people. Really what they are looking for is a well rounded class. Schools are interested in the student with a “spike”, that something extra that makes them stand out. They aren’t as excited about someone who knows a little about a lot, as they are about someone who has a real passion for something. Colleges want to create a class with diverse interests, so they need some who are politically active, others who are creatively oriented, some who are leaders and others who are worker bees. It is not possible to create a perfect profile, as the applicant pool is a dynamic entity. One year they may really need tuba players, so that matters; another year they may need divers for the swim team. Just present yourself honestly and the admissions folks will decide if your profile is the best fit for their insitution.
Short Answer: There is no short answer to this question, because the myths are countless.
There are many, but here are my top seven.
The level of opportunity and competition to go to college are both exaggerated. Some people like to say there are 3000 colleges, many of whom have open enrollments. The real number of colleges of high and even modest quality is significantly less. On the other hand it is true that there are a few colleges that accept less than ten percent of applicants, but this is the exception. There are many colleges of very high quality that accept students at much higher rates.
The importance of extra circular activities.
Students who become fixated on one school as the end all be all for the rest of their lives have not been educated about fit. When I take students on a Burton College Tour, I teach them how to determine the elements of a good academic, social and financial fit for themselves. Students who learn how to identify the aspects of a good fit and how it pertains to them are able to build a list of schools that are all right for the student.
One of the most pervasive myths regarding college admissions in America is that it is absolutely impossible to get into your first choice school these days! You have probably heard about all of the perfect students/athletes/musicians/etc. who have been rejected by every school on East Coast, right? Well — as the kids say, “whatever.”
ormer president of Mercy College Lucie Lapovsky has a unique perspective on the admissions process – unique in that she doesn’t buy the headlines and stories that are scaring students and parents alike into thinking that the college admissions process has become more prohibitively competitive than ever before. The current school of thought would have the public believe that more students than ever are applying to colleges, but also, more students than ever are getting rejected by colleges. It seems that the typical applicant today is a high-achieving, almost too well-rounded student who applies to many institutions, is almost invariably denied by their top choice and has to settle for a safety school. Ms. Lapovsky is sick of it.
I believe that the most accepted “myth” about the admissions process is that one has to go to a “brand name” college. I just read a blog by a student, Benjamin Platt: Success is not spelled H-A-R-V-A-R-D. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/07/the-college-commandments-_n_1079571.html. I recommend parents and students read it. It is certainly a myth that there are only a few colleges worth going to in the USA. There are over 3,000 colleges in this country! As Platt says in his blog, “Plenty of important people went to Ivy League schools. Plenty of important people did not.” Don’t buy into the “bumper sticker” mentality. Look for substance, not just a name.
I believe wholeheartedly that too many students compile a list of colleges to which to apply based on “quality of life”. You may be that student who says, “I’m just a warm weather person.” While that may be true, and good on you for identifying that, silly junior, college is for studying for a degree! In the media, we are fed myths, lies really, about what college “should” be like: most involve togas and red Solo cups, as well as mutual hair-holding for turns over the toilet. Allow me to bust that myth: choose colleges first and foremost based on the academic offerings and fit, the mission and culture of the school and the social scene will undoubtedly follow. Any time you get hundreds of 18-22 year olds living together, fun in inevitable!
There are many many myths about this process. The biggest one is that the senior year first semester grades do not count or the courses you take senior year do not matter. They do for all colleges or universities with only a few exceptions. Keeping a strong curriculum through the 4 years of high school is critical to competitive college admission.
Some people believe that the only good colleges are those that have name recognition, like those in the Ivy Leagues. This just isn’t true. There are thousands of colleges in the US and each one has a distinct feel that may match with your learning style, personality, career objectives, etc. Expand your search. Speaking with a guidance counselor who will expose you to schools that match your interests and ideas is a good start to finding the right fit for you.
While the most competitive colleges have extremely rigorous admission standards that include earning high grades, completing several essays, taking a number of challenging standardized tests, and pursuing a variety of extracurricular activities, the vast majority of America’s four-year colleges have far more modest admissions requirements. In fact, despite what you may have heard, many colleges require no admission essays, and a growing number of colleges are easing their admission requirements, as evidenced by the number of schools becoming ACT- and SAT-optional. If you want to attend a four-year college, stay calm and you will find one that will admit you.
Students often misunderstand the purpose of long and short statements they must write for many applications. The longer personal statement (the essay) is not a textbook expository essay. It is a personal narrative meant to show who you are, as well as how well you express yourself. The shorter statements individual colleges ask for may be at least as important. These questions are meant to gauge how well you know the school as well as your level of interest. That’s why writing about College X when you are applying to College Y (yes, it does happen) can sink an application.
Two common myths assume that colleges have predetermined ideas on how students should spend their time: that you must have a noteworthy summer activity to be considered by highly selective colleges and have something unusual or extraordinary to write about in essays. Actually, the best personal statements reflect a slice of everyday life. Some of my favorites this year have included reflections on: a bus ride, an electronics show, and an acting class. Also, students and parents often feel that disabilities shouldn’t be revealed in applications, but this information is valuable in understanding a transcript or how students have worked through challenges.
Many kids and parents believe fabulous standardized test scores will make up for mediocre grades. Great test scores without the academic achievement to support them tell the admissions people one of two things: “Johnny has the ability, but he’s lazy” or “Wow, Mom and Dad paid for a great testing tutor because this test is teachable. “ Neither one of these will help Johnny in the application process; he is better off spending that time and effort working on his grades and mastering his coursework! In the end, the success in the coursework is what the colleges need to see to feel confident a student will succeed at their institution.
Valedictorians are always victorious. Recent numbers show that although valedictorians typically have the grades and test scores to be accepted anywhere, many are turned away from highly selective colleges. In addition to test scores they also need other attributes which are attractive to admissions. There’s only one perfect school for me. Although students may believe they can only be happy and successful at a particular school it has been shown time and again that finding the “good fit” school is more important. I’m a Failure if I don’t get into college “X.” It is impossible to predict which schools will accept you. Never consider it a personal failure. You are competing with thousands of others with similar qualifications.
One of the biggest myths for parents is: “Just get into the best college you can and we’ll figure out how to pay for it.” Unless there is a vast sum of money available to parents to pay for college, thorough knowledge of what the expected family contribution (EFC) would be for both the FAFSA and CSS formulae are essential. Having a solid pre-application financial strategy in place can be crucial in determining which colleges a student should apply to, thusly avoiding the heartbreak of students getting into their top choice schools and then parents informing them that they can’t afford the total cost.
The three most accepted myths I have witnessed over the years are these: 1) Believing that a big name school-one of the Ivies, Big Ten, or local favorite-is the best school choice; and ignoring your individuality-strengths, learning and social needs, wants and challenges. 2) Choosing a teacher to write a recommendation letter because you think the teacher likes you. The teacher needs to have witnessed your growth as an individual over time. They have to truly know you. 3) Thinking that being college eligible is the same as being college ready. Being college ready involves all of you: knowing/managing/taking care of yourself, managing your time/classes/studying/socializing, and money, school/grades… everything!
You need a nearly perfect SAT or ACT score to get into an elite school. Nonsense! Top colleges are flooded with students having great standardized test scores. Once an applicant shows he or she is in the game, other evaluation factors take over.
most private schools used such strategy to secure seats. Very few public schools provide systematic approach to admissions. If you are qualify for needs based aid, you should not worry about your aid if accepted.
Myth: Community college is a consolation prize for students who aren’t academically ready for a four-year college. Truth: Community colleges can help students learn important academic and organizational skills that will prepare them to succeed in upper division courses at four-year colleges. Myth: Community colleges deprive students of the rich social experiences that a four-year college can provide. Truth: Community College students can take advantage of theater, athletics, clubs or student government, in many cases with no prior experience. Myth: Community Colleges are a dead-end. Truth: The best way to ensure a successful transfer to a four-year college is to enter community college with clearly defined goals and a well-crafted transfer plan.
3 Myths: No one gets in college. No one can afford college. College degrees don’t matter. Debunked: Almost 70% of applicants are admitted (NACAC). Affordable options are available. Education Pays (The College Board) explains the benefits of an educated populace. Those with higher education are: less likely to be dependent on government programs, more likely to be healthy and have healthier life styles, more likely to have insurance, less likely to be unemployed, more likely to vote and volunteer, going to make more money, on average, over a lifetime than those without a degree. Dream big. Work hard. Your future is in your hands.
They believe that the more they send, the better their chances. In reality, three words sum up an effective application: thoughtful, focused, and clear. Be thoughtful about what colleges need to know about you, focus on the most important information, and then clearly (and succinctly) explain yourself. If you accomplish those three things, you probably don’t need another 500 words for your essay, extra slots on the extracurricular list, or additional letters of recommendation. Admissions officers have very limited time to spend on each application; less really is more.
Better essays are ones about big ideas, which is false; the more an essay particularizes the better. The essay topic really matters; it doesn’t, it’s about the writing. An essay will make or break an application; not true, they are really tie-breakers at best. You can’t take November SAT’s for a November 1st or 15th deadline, which is false; you can almost everywhere. You only have to post mark your materials that are mailed by the deadline: false. You need to post mark if you get it out well before the deadline too. Lastly, colleges will STILL consider applications received on time if supporting materials are in just past the deadline.
Everyone exclaims about the extreme selectivity of colleges, so people begin to think most colleges are ultra-selective. But by far, most colleges admit more than 50% of their applicants. Another myth is that if colleges don’t have a well-known name, they must not be of good quality. In fact, there are thousands of fine colleges–places that aren’t always in the news–that make a good match for thousands of students. Incorrectly, many students have the impression that small colleges are boring. Check out the wide variety of opportunities and you’ll be surprised how interesting they can be!
Myth1: “College is so competitive, I may not get accepted anywhere! Reality: Last year the average four –year college acceptance rate was just under 70%. In fact, most colleges accept most applicants. Myth 2: “Colleges only really care about the junior year.” Reality: Every year of high school matters…including the senior year. Myth 3: “It doesn’t matter how much I’ll have to borrow to pay for college…it’s worth it.” Reality: Borrowing excessively can have terrible long term consequences, and most students can find good, affordable college options without having to take on massive debt. Be an educated consumer.
One exaggerated myth is if you are not admitted into a college by May 1st, your chances of attending college in the fall, or obtaining financial aid should you gain admittance, are low. The ‘NACAC Space Availability Survey Results,’ contain 279 colleges still accepting freshmen or transfers, with most of the listed schools also offering financial aid and on-campus housing. St John’s College (Annapolis, MD. & Santa Fe, NM), which features a Great Books core curriculum and places over 85% of its graduates into graduate school is on the list; and, the list is updated and online till July 1st.
There is a common misperception that schools give preference to certain application forms (their own, for example) over others such as the Common Application. If a school lists a form as acceptable, take their word for it! As a reader, I am quickly scanning for specific information and rarely even notice which form is being used. However, the idea that we are not paying close attention to the information itself IS a myth! Misspellings, poor grammar, unanswered questions, and accidental references to wanting to attend a different college than the one who to whom it was sent are definitely noted, especially at smaller and more selective schools.
SATs/ACTs are not really all that important, that is what the college rep said when they visited my school. The coach really wants me and says he can get me in, my academics are less than stellar, but that’s not going to matter. I do not need to visit schools now before I apply, I will wait and see where I get in and then check out the campus.
MYTH: To reveal that I have a learning disability will hurt my admissions chances. REALITY: For colleges to clearly understand your academic background and abilities, it’s critical to describe and explain your learning issues. MYTH: The more intellectual an essay is the more impressed college admissions people will be. REALITY: Effective essays are snapshots of who you are and what you are all about. MYTH: If I wait until the last minute to complete my applications, I will be better focused, sharper and more creative. REALITY: “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” Abraham Lincoln
Many students believe their college admissions essays need to be funny, or evoke sympathy. A misplaced attempt at humor can come across as a sign of immaturity. Likewise, trying to gain sympathy by talking about an illness or a death may be seen as a cheap attempt to gain acceptance. Another common myth is that essays need to be shockingly different. For example, writing a personal statement with backwards lettering will no doubt annoy admissions officers rather than entertain. Perhaps the biggest myth is that longer essays are better. Make your essays “muscular” and get rid of the “flab”!
Myths abound regarding college admissions, e.g.: East Coast schools only want the SAT. Midwest schools prefer the ACT. Not true. Colleges will take either and some are test optional. Look at the testing policy for each school to which you apply. But the most egregious myths concern individual schools. How about this one? THAT U doesn’t give any money. Remember, families fare differently. Or, All of the students at THAT U lay around in the grass taking LSD. Wow, and they still have all those Fulbright scholars?! And my personal favorite: THAT U has the highest rate of STDs in the nation. Quick, alert the CDC!
The longer the essay the better: I have seen students’ essays that run close to ten pages. Admissions offices do not have the time or inclination, even if the story is riveting to you, to spend that much time on one essay. The essay needs to impress the reader with all your many accomplishments: NO. Your essay should impress the reader with your personal qualities: compassion, responsibility, perseverance. Often the smaller “slice of life” stories work best. The bigger the words used the better: Again, filling your essay with “SAT” words can be a big mistake, especially if you use them incorrectly.
With summer upon us, many students are convinced they need to travel to a third world country to do their community service or attend a program at an elite college to increase their chance of acceptance. Neither of these scenarios is accurate. Students seem to think that they need to add countless activities to their activity resumes when in fact college officers prefer to see fewer activities with more depth and continuity. Families rely too heavily on publicity and rankings. If they haven’t heard of the college, it can’t be good. Put your antennas up and explore the thousands of colleges out there!
With over 25 years in higher education, I am still amazed that the myth that the SAT or ACT score is the single most important aspect of an applicant’s file is still around.
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