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.