There are lots of misconceptions out there about the highly selective college admissions process and since one of the core objectives of our college admissions blog is to correct these very misconceptions, we figured we’d focus our blog today on 10 commonly accepted myths about the process. These myths are as widely accepted as the notion that you’re not supposed to eat shortly before you swim or that you’re supposed to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. Interestingly, the latter myth was debunked by Dartmouth College researchers. So without further ado, here are 10 commonly accepted college admissions myths primed for debunking:
- Highly selective colleges seek well-rounded students. They want the Renaissance student, the student who excels in sports, community service, music, and more. Wrong. Highly selective colleges seek students who excel in one area and that one area needs to benefit the school, to contribute to the rich diversity of their community.
- Applying for Financial Aid won’t hurt your case for admission. Wrong. Colleges are not truly need-blind — they’re need-aware. If they were truly need-blind, why does it ask on college application supplements if a student needs financial aid? Admissions officers are privy to this answer. Why isn’t it on a separate document that admissions officers aren’t privy to?
- If you get into Harvard, that means you’ll definitely get into Penn. Wrong. If you don’t show Penn you love them, if you don’t tailor your application specifically to Penn, you’re unlikely to earn admission to Ben Franklin’s school. Penn will proudly deny a student admission even if the student had the grades and scores to earn admission to Harvard.
- Colleges value the SAT over the ACT. Wrong. Just about every highly selective college values the SAT and ACT equally. The only college where you can possibly make a case that this isn’t so is Georgetown but even Georgetown respects a great ACT score.
- Sending a letter of recommendation from a powerful politician will help my case for admission. Wrong. Congratulations on having a family connection to an important world leader but if this politician doesn’t actually know you, you’re not going to impress anyone. It’ll hurt more than help since it can render you unlikable. The admissions officer is likely to think, “This kid is trying to impress me? I’ll show her!”
- The more you send colleges the better. Wrong. Less is more. Don’t send colleges superfluous information. You’d be amazed what people send. Family photos, award certificates, you name it.
- Applying Early Decision or Early Action isn’t the way to go. Wrong. To not use your Early card — and to not use it wisely — is to waste the most valuable admissions card you’ve got in your back pocket.
- The fact that you’re Caucasian presents a major hurdle. Wrong. The majority of students admitted to highly selective colleges are Caucasian. We hate it when folks email us, “My son is not an underrepresented minority so…” So? Don’t be racist. And don’t think you can’t earn admission to a highly selective college because you’re Caucasian. You can and if you don’t get in, it’s not because of the color of your skin.
- The more hours of community service you do the better. Wrong. You don’t need to volunteer to get into a top school and it’s certainly not all about the number of hours you serve your community.
- The Common Application Personal Statement is the most important college admissions essay. Wrong. Every single college admissions essay matters equally. What good is having a great Personal Statement if your other essays aren’t as strong — and specifically tailored to each school to which you’re applying?
What are some other college admissions myths that we should debunk on the pages of our college admissions blog in the days and weeks ahead? Let us know your thoughts by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!
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