The college admissions process is confusing. So many people have had to deal with the admissions process that there are so many tips, tricks, and hacks out there. People give admissions advice with good intentions, but sometimes the advice isn’t completely true.
These college admissions myths might lead to a flawed perspective on college admissions… and could potentially lead to a few rejections.
Today, we’re going to go over 7 college admissions myths and debunk them.
Myth 1: Only Ivy Schools are Worth Attending
Ivy League schools hold a special place in the aspirations of college-bound students. Names like Harvard, Yale, or Princeton can evoke powerful emotions and dreams. Some might think that life will be perfect after attending these schools.
Well, that isn’t necessarily true. No hate for these schools, but you don’t need to attend them in order to get a spectacular education. It’s time to debunk the myth that they should be the sole goal of any young student.
Truth is, there are so many colleges and universities out there, each with its own unique strengths and offerings. While it is true that Ivy League can provide more opportunities in certain fields like law, most employers just look for a degree. You shouldn’t pick an Ivy League school because of its prestige, you should only pick it because you genuinely think that it’s the right fit for you.
There are so many things to consider when picking a school. You have to account for location, price, special programs, local opportunities, and so much more. A lot of research goes into the college search. Remember that prestige and recognizability isn’t the only thing you should be considering.
Myth 2: A Good GPA & Test Scores Confirm Admission
The belief that a great GPA is the golden ticket to any university is a common myth. This just adds unnecessary pressure (or a false sense of security) to students during high school. Academic performance is definitely a factor in admissions, but it isn’t the only factor.
Admissions officers account for academic performance, extracurriculars, personal statements, letters of rec, and so much more. These officers know that you are so much more than just your GPA and test scores.
A perfect GPA may open doors, but it won’t guarantee admission if you’re severely lacking in other departments. It’s common for students with 4.0s to get rejected at top schools. It’s also common for students with 3.8s to get accepted into top schools. Your GPA is not the only factor. You’ll only be hurting yourself if you strive for the perfect GPA at the sacrifice of your extracurriculars and mental health.
Admission decisions are comprehensive assessments of who you are as a student and as a person.
Myth 3: Applying to More Schools Means More Acceptances
The myth that casting a wider net in the college application process increases the number of acceptances is a well-intentioned but misguided belief. It should always be quality over quantity when it comes to your college applications.
You should only apply to schools that you are genuinely interested in. Applications aren’t free, either!
Myth 4: Extracurriculars Should Only Be Academic
A common myth is that you should only participate in academic extracurriculars. Stuff like the science olympiad or mock trial. This myth is actually harmful to students because it discourages participation.
Admissions officers look at who you are as a person. And if you love music, then you should participate in the marching band. If you’re into sports, then join your school’s team! Even if you’re president of the gaming club, that’s still something to be proud of.
You should be involved and passionate about your extracurriculars. If you’re only doing them to make yourself seem like a better candidate, then the admissions officers will be able to tell.
Myth 5: You Can’t Get Aid if You’re Middle-Class
A huge myth surrounding college admissions is that financial aid is only available for low-income families. This puts a lot of stress on students who think that they can’t afford school without taking out huge loans. You shouldn’t restrict your search because of the sticker price on tuition. Aid often lowers that number significantly.
Financial aid is determined by so many factors. While it’s true that family income is a factor, so is the cost of attendance and the number of dependents. Many schools offer need-based aid to middle-class families. Plus, there are always merit-based scholarships and grants that are available to students. You never know what you can get until you apply.
Myth 6: You Need to Take Every AP Class Possible
This myth comes from the other myth of GPA being everything. AP (Advanced Placement) classes are more rigorous than typical classes, but they aren’t necessary for getting accepted into a school. If you take too many AP classes, then you’ll only be stressed out. This could hurt your performance in that class and other classes. It’s great to challenge yourself academically, but don’t overdo it.
You should only take AP classes that sound interesting to you. Admissions officers do consider the difficulty of AP classes, but they also value when students do well in courses that are aligned with their interests. It’s important to strike a balance for academic and personal well-being.
Myth 7: You Need to Take the SAT and ACT
There’s been an emphasis on tests like the SAT and ACT for decades. It’s a common myth that these tests are the ultimate measure of academic ability and intelligence. Recently, many universities are moving toward test-optional admissions policies.
This means that you don’t necessarily need to take these tests. However, it wouldn’t hurt to take them if you have the time to prepare. A lot of schools still require these test scores. A lot of other schools are “test-optional” which means that you have the choice to submit them or not. If you’ve taken it, then highly consider submitting your score. If not, then don’t worry about it. However, “test-optional” does not mean test blind. So if you and another student have the exact same chances of getting in, but they took the test and you didn’t, then it’s likely that they will get priority.
Test-blind schools will not consider test scores no matter what. This shift in admissions has encouraged students to focus more on their coursework and extracurriculars.
It’s essential to separate fact from fiction when dealing with the college admissions process. Myths only add unnecessary stress and confusion to the already overwhelming process. By challenging these misconceptions, you’re empowering yourself to approach the admissions process with clarity and confidence.