What are the most accepted or exaggerated myths about the college admissions process?

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What are the most accepted or exaggerated myths about the college admissions process?

Rebecca Joseph
Executive Director & Founder getmetocollege.org

What are the most accepted or exaggerated myths about the college admissions process?

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.

Mark Corkery
Head College Counselor International College Admissions Network (I-CAN)

What are the most accepted or exaggerated myths about the college admissions process?

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. Another myth is that community service hours are what colleges like to see. The answer is that colleges like to see depth of experience and how the student has contributed to an organization. One day handing out water bottles at a fundraising marathon does not make for a community service activity that colleges would look on favorably. If you are the student who volunteers to get the water donated and is on the planning committee for the marathon, then this would show a strong commitment and a contribution to the organization planning the event.

Sandy McMaster
College Admissions Consultant My College Hunt, LLC

Just how important is the college essay?

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!

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

College admission myth

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.

Erin Avery
Certified Educational Planner Avery Educational Resources, LLC

Myth Busters

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!

Patricia Krahnke
President/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

Seven and Counting...

Short Answer: There is no short answer to this question, because the myths are countless. Detailed Answer: Here are my top seven myths. Myth #1: Admissions counselors care. A lot of admissions counselors love their jobs. But look around a college fair a half an hour before it’s over. Note how many tables are empty. Many admissions counselors don’t want to be there. In fact, it’s amazing how many admissions counselors just leave their materials on the tables and take off for the entire event. If you are there and the representative for the school you are interested is not there, call that college's admissions office and tell them. Myth #2: Admissions counselors know what they are talking about. I once sat next to a fellow counselor at an Open House who told a student our college accepted the Common App. That counselor had worked at the institution for 15 years. I had been there 2 years. Even I knew we didn’t accept the Common App. Myth #3: Your application will be reviewed closely. Nonsense. That would take time. Many institutions are now moving to an algorithm on the back end of their data system that makes decisions on applications solely based on numbers. No human being ever sees any part of the application. At one institution I worked at, they were so concerned about increasing the speed of application reading, we were told to shred essays and letters of recommendations to keep the paper down to a minimum, so we wouldn’t be tempted to take the time to read them. This is an excellent question to ask the admissions office of any college you are considering: How will my application be reviewed? Unfortunately, the ones who won’t ever see it will tell you that it was carefully reviewed. And there is no way to verify any information you are given regarding this part of the process. Myth #4: The buzz words in college marketing materials are true. “Student centered.” “Academic excellence.” “Small classes.” “Diversity.” Just like any big business, their marketing and communications group has researched your generation and come up with the marketing phrases they believe will attract your interest. That’s why everything you receive in the mail looks the same. That’s why you want them to turn off their messages to your email (that have been coming in huge quantities since your PSAT scores became available to them in your Sophomore year.) Colleges are desperately competitive with one another and equally desperate to convey that there is something special about them…but somehow they all end up looking and sounding the same. Your job is to see behind the words to ascertain who they really are. (Want to visit a college that puts forth an admissions message that is completely contrary to the truth of who and where they are? Check out Tulane University, New Orleans. ) Myth #5: If you begin your degree at your community college, your life is over. Don’t be ridiculous. The fact is that approximately 40% of students entering college today require some type of remedial coursework. Even the top students coming out of high school these days are weak writers and non-critical thinkers, no matter the results of their SATs and ACTs. Many, many students simply are not prepared for the rigor of higher level academic work. So why would you put yourself and/or your parents into financial peril by shelling out big bucks for coursework that won’t even count for credit? Because you want to party on a big campus? Because you want freedom from home? Because your friends are going away to school? These are all reasonable, emotional answers, but in the long run, none of them is as valuable as sound financial and academic decisions. Unless you brag about your lack of student loan debt, no one in the job market will know that you started out at community college (by the way, there are just as many fabulous instructors at community colleges as there are terrible professors at elite colleges; want an example? Google poet Stephen Dunn, who was teaching at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey when he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize). The fact is, future employers will only know where you received your undergraduate degree. What people will recognize about the community college choice is 1) financial intelligence, which will be evident by the fact that you have less student loan debt than students who did all four (usually five) years at a major four-year institution, and 2) a determination to nail your upper level coursework and be ready for the job market and/or grad school. Sure you won’t have had the social experience of a traditional, over-programmed, anxiety producing, first-year college program. But that first-year experience often turns out to be a liability for many students that is hard to recover from. Myth #6: Net Price Calculators are accurate. Nope. This is a huge topic and one I won’t go into too deeply here. Suffice to say, colleges are under a great deal of pressure from the federal government to provide families with an accurate idea of how much it is going to cost them to attend College X and College Y. At the NACAC conference in September of this year, I attended a seminar where Diane Cheng of the California non-profit organization Institute for College Access & Success spoke about the development of these net price calculators. Dr. Cheng stated that institutions appeared to be developing their calculators in a non-uniform manner in order to meet their marketing needs. That tells you everything you need to know about how much faith to place in them. Not much. Myth #7. The college that rejects you defines you as a loser. Forever. Many of the most interesting, accomplished, creative, deep and innovative thinkers in our world (indeed, in the history of the world) didn't go to college, didn't get into college, bailed on the college they got into, or failed out of the college they got into. If your college admissions process doesn't go as well as you'd hoped, roll with it. Maybe life has something a lot more meaningful and productive in store for you.

Mark Gathercole
University Advisor Independent University Advising

What are the most accepted or exaggerated myths about the college admissions process?

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.

Helen Cella

What are the most accepted or exaggerated myths about the college admissions process?

The importance of extra circular activities.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

What are the most accepted or exaggerated myths about the college admissions process?

That legacy students or those whose parents make substantial donations will be accepted in spite of their grades.

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar Bound

What are the most accepted or exaggerated myths about the college admissions 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