There are lots of myths out there about the college admissions process. Today, we figured we’d examine 5 college admissions myths — and debunk them for our readers once and for all. Now keep in mind that there are a whole lot more than 5 myths out there in the universe about the highly selective college admissions process but these 5 myths we’ve chosen to shine a lantern on today are some of the most cited myths, ones perpetuated by parents, students, school counselors, admissions officers, and the local grocery store delivery man…you name it. And boy oh boy are we tired of hearing about them. So here goes.
5 College Admissions Myths Debunked
1. Every highly selective university is looking for something different in an applicant. No, not really. Every highly selective college is looking for a singularly talented student who will contribute that singular talent to the diverse cross-section of an incoming class. Now colleges sure do care that you’ve tailored your storytelling in, say, your Why College essay specifically to the college to which you’re applying. That specificity is so very important. But to suggest that every college is looking for something different, well, it’s a false narrative.
2. If you receive a college brochure, it means that college is interested in offering you admission. No, not so much. If you receive a college brochure, it means that college is interested in inspiring you to apply. After all, the more students who apply, the lower the admit rate will be, and the higher the school will likely be ranked in “US News & World Report.” Don’t confuse an interest in securing your application with an interest in offering you admission. No students should have false hope.
3. Our nation’s top schools seek out well-rounded students, students who excel in things like sports, music, community service, and more. As the late Amy Winehouse sang it, “No, no, no.” Colleges haven’t been seeking to admit well-rounded students for decades. Rather, they seek students who excel in one particular area — an area that will be of interest to that college. It never ceases to amaze us how many students — and particularly their parents — still believe in the false narrative of the well-rounded student.
4. If an admissions officer said it, it must be true. Really? Really? Admissions officers are employees of a business. They often speak in marketese. When they tell you that their school offers admission on a need-blind basis, of course that sounds really nice. But of course it isn’t true. If it were true, then why can admissions officers see if students are applying for financial aid on the applications themselves? Wouldn’t it be on a separate document that admissions officers aren’t privy to? That which admissions officers say and that which actually holds true can be entirely different indeed. We hear the bubbles bursting…oh yes we do!
5. A $1 million donation to an Ivy League college will all but guarantee my child’s case for admission. Oh no it won’t! $1 million? You’re not in the ballpark. While there is no figure that will “guarantee” a student’s case for admission to an Ivy League school, folks who think that $1 million will do the trick just don’t get it. The figure is actually significantly higher. Sure, the school will accept the $1 million. They’ll send a nice thank you note, maybe even a holiday card in December. But that $1 million is as likely to backfire and hurt the child’s case for admission as anything. Think about it. The admissions office would be prone to think, “These people thought they could buy their way in? We’ll show them!”
What are your thoughts on these 5 college admissions myths? Have another myth you’d like to share? Let us know what you’re thinking by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!
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