Eight myths about college admissions

It’s that time of year again. High school seniors across the country are feeling relieved as most would have completed and submitted their college applications by now. Therefore, it is time now to shift attention to the juniors, for this is an excellent time to start thinking about what they are looking for and what they are hoping to get out of their college experience. To help alleviate some of the stress with choosing where to apply, I have compiled just a few common myths about the admissions process.

Myth #1:  
There are bad colleges and there are good colleges.

There is no such thing a bad college. Educational institutions must be accredited regularly to make sure their academic standards are up to par. There are, however, colleges that might be a bad match for you, but those schools might be fantastic for somebody else. Wipe all preconceived notions about colleges from your mind and when you are looking at schools, ask, “Does this school fit my personality?” “Does it match my educational background?” “Will it help me meet my goals?” Just because you haven’t heard the name before, doesn’t mean it is not a good school.

Myth #2:  
Colleges only choose the “best” students.

Not true at all. Remember, there is no formula. Colleges are trying to build a class, so maybe they need a violin player but you play the sax. Or maybe the last slot came down to you and a child of a faculty member. And who defines “best” by the way? Colleges consider many things, so don’t take a rejection personally.

Myth #3:  
I must go to a prestigious university to get a great job or get into graduate school.

Nonsense. This may have once been the case, but colleges and universities have really upped their game over the past decades, making it more difficult for potential employers or graduate schools to solely rely on the name of your college. What will be key, is how well you do in college – both in terms of academics and in campus life. There is no evidence to suggest that only graduates from Ivy League schools will be the happiest, most successful, most humanitarian among us.

Myth #4:
The more expensive the school, the higher the quality.

College education is going to cost a lot no matter what. But just because a school is expensive, does not mean it offers a better education. The cost of attendance listed on college websites does not tell you about the quality of the program, but rather the size of endowments or state subsidies. It certainly does not speak to whether the school would be a good match for you.

Furthermore, you should never let the price tag sway you from applying. Always keep in communication with the financial aid office.

Myth #5:
I need to go to a local school because it is cheaper.

Not necessarily. Per the Federal Student Aid website (studentaid.ed.gov), The Department of Education awards about $150 billion in grants, work study and low-interest loans to over 15 million students. Private schools also tend to have more money on hand to use for scholarships and therefore have the capacity to meet most, and in some cases all, of your needs.

Myth #6:
Good test scores are key to college admission.

Nope. Transcripts are what colleges value most. They not only want to see your grades but the courses you took. Did you challenge yourself? How well did you do in your most difficult courses? These are the questions being asked by admissions officers. Additionally, they are looking at your extracurricular activities as well as college essays. Increasingly, colleges are putting less emphasis on test scores. In fact, over 900 colleges are test optional and the list keeps growing.

Myth #7:  
There’s a secret strategy that will guarantee admission.

Also no. There is no secret strategy that will ensure admissions. There is also no secret formula held by admissions officers to determine admission. Just be yourself. No need to get a letter of recommendation from a senator or CEO if they don’t personally know you. Admission officers are quick to see through any gimmicks or attempted strategies and will often pass those applications by.

Myth #8:
I don’t know what I want to major in so I can’t really choose a college.

It’s OK to enter college without a major; most colleges ask that you declare by the end of your sophomore year. And most college students will change their major at least three times before graduation. Another interesting fact is that there is only a 1 in 10 chance you will be doing something related to your major 10 years after college.

If you would like further college admission advice, contact Bryan at bryan@collegeknowledgeaz.com or 520-329-2620.

Source: College Match. 11th Edition. Steven R. Antonoff

By Bryan Pisetsky, MS, IEC Certificate

Bryan has over four years of college admission experience as well as a master’s degree in counseling and guidance with a college student personnel specialization. He also completed a certificate in Independent Educational Consulting from the University of California, Irvine.

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