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?

Patty Finer

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

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! The truth is money will follow the application, and there are probably several colleges that are “perfect”. Perhaps the school has a great football team, and a student wants to be among “great”, maybe the school has an excellent engineering department and has been recognized in the news, or maybe family members attended the school and a student has grown up knowing only that school. There are tons of reasons. Unfortunately, the number of students applying to colleges is staggering, so families need to be aware of the competition. Let me give you an example…UCLA get 45,000 applications for something like 4,000 spots, and of course colleges send out more accept letters than that because they know some will say no. USC is now at 30,000 applications for about 2,000 spots. The Ivies have even fewer spots. Most of the time, parents who have been to college are influencing their students with this idea that there is only ONE school, theirs. Unfortunately, Legacy status does not hold the water it used to at the schools. It is recognized, but not a guarantee. The competition is too keen. Parents who have never been to college may have an idea, but I find there are more open to choice, because they have never experienced the process themselves. One mother hired me specifically to get her child into a specific school. She thought that if I was an alumnus it meant I had connections and nothing can be farther from the truth when it comes to admissions. This woman’s son did not want to go there, and told me he liked the school but did not want to follow in his brother’s footsteps. He did not get in! Another mother was so upset because she wanted her child to go to college, and because this family was from Japan, the mother became frightened her child might not get in. She was so nervous her daughter just caved in and became non-responsive to the process. So parents are a pressure without meaning to be, and students need to be able to explore several options, not just one. There is no one school for students, and the job of the counselor is to not only work with the students but to work with the parents/family. Here is one sad story. A student said to me “I have to go to Princeton, my parents went to Princeton, and I am going to Princeton.” So we put it on our list. He got in! He was so excited. There was a big celebration. Just before he left for school, there was a going away party. He went to the campus, and not a lot was said. When the holiday break came, I saw him and asked how school was expecting to hear great things. Unfortunately, he moved home, and he had no plans on returning. I asked him what happened, he simply said “I HATED IT!” It would be two years before we could get him into another school and in the meantime, he would go to the local community college. That was a very expensive mistake not only in money, but in time. It is OK for students to look at pictures and the activities of a school, but there is more to a school than just a few pictures. Students need to visit campuses, talk to students, have a meal, and give a school a test drive.

Joshua Earsley
Student Assistance Coordinator Reach Out

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

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. Another common myth is as follows: Community colleges are for those students who aren't ready for a 4-year university. The circumstances are different for every student. Whether financially or uncertainty of one's future be an issue, from experience I can tell you that community college helped me prepare better for my transition into a private university. I was eligible to attend a few state schools, however I decided to take a route that allowed me not only to increase my organizational and study skills, but also gave me more time to consider what I wanted to do as a career.

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.

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.

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The Right Fit College

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

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.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

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

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. Another myth is that the cost of college is skyrocketing. While the sticker prices are rising, the reality is that the cost of college is very progressive. Wealthier families are paying more, but for a majority of Americans the cost of tuition is zero due to federal or institutional subsidy.

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.

Ronald Harris

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

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.