7 College Admission Myths That You Shouldn't Fall For
While most offer solid advice, some are conflicting, and it can be difficult to know who to trust. Even someone who has worked in admissions can have a narrow or outdated perspective.
After working with thousands of college applicants each year, we’ve distilled the most common admissions myths down to seven of the most dangerous. Don’t let these inaccuracies ruin your changes of getting into your dream school.
MYTH #1: THERE’S ONE PERFECT SCHOOL FOR ME
While you should definitely apply to the schools that are the right fit for you, no college is your soulmate. Yes, your school will be your alma mater, but not getting into one particular school will not destroy your life.
In the college admissions process, don’t be afraid to play the field. If you think there’s only one school for you, then you really haven’t taken the time to explore the schools that are out there. This is not to say that you shouldn’t have a preferred school.
However, the admissions process is multidimensional, so having a top three or a top five can save you a lot of anxiety.
MYTH #2: THE APPLICATION IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS
Schools actually do keep track of how many times you have contacted the school and if you’ve arranged for a campus visit. If your application is on the bubble for a school, making an extra effort can give you the push that you need.
Part of a college’s prestige is its yield rate, which refers to the number of accepted applicants who actually enroll. Giving the admissions officers confidence that you’ll matriculate if they send you an acceptance letter can provide you with a significant edge.
MYTH #3: THE BETTER MY ACCOMPLISHMENTS, THE BETTER MY CHANCES OF ADMISSION
After checking off their basic requirements for admissions, schools consider many factors to help them decide who gets accepted. Once those requirements are met, then everything else is a matter of diminishing returns. Yes, high test scores and GPA will help you, but they are not a guarantee that you will be admitted.
MYTH #4: EXTRACURRICULARS ARE CRUCIAL
The vast majority of applicants will actually be overqualified for the school and will also have numerous extracurricular activities and experiences. Therefore, the admissions officers are looking for the activities where you had a leadership role or played a significant role in a major project. It’s better to have fewer activities where you focused and made a difference than more where you were just a participant.
MYTH #5: NAME-DROPPING HELPS
For your letters of recommendation and in your essays, name-dropping won’t impress the admissions officers. They want letters of recommendation from people who have worked with you and can personally attest to your potential. Unless you have a personal relationship with the renowned individual, leave it out of your college application package.
MYTH #6: MY SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS DON’T MATTER
This is less of an active myth than a myth by omission. Admissions officers aren’t expecting you to be a saint, but you need to actively protect your reputation online.
Did someone tag you in an embarrassing photo? The admissions officers will see it. Did you stretch the truth in your application? The admissions officers will fact check you. If they don’t, that means that they are not seriously considering your application.
Therefore, take the time to clean up on social media.
MYTH #7: MY ESSAYS DON’T MATTER
Even for the most ideal of candidates, submitting bad essays can hurt your application. You might be in a position where you don’t need to include a stellar essay, but a rushed essay or one that clearly shows that you did not make an effort can knock you out of the running. Regardless of the strength of the other aspects of your application, including strong essays is essential.
By Ryan Hickey, posted on college.usatoday.com