I have been an independent college admissions advisor for over 17 years. I personally visit over 100 colleges annually, talk with admissions officers and deans at colleges at their respective schools and attend international and higher education conferences. Yet, year after year, I hear students and parents falling prey to myths that keep students from getting into the college of their choice or worse settling for a second and third choice school after years of hard work.
Here are the first five myths that I hear and believe are important to dispel:
Myth # 1: You can’t get into a selective college if you did poorly in the ninth or tenth grade.
College admissions officers look for improvement in performance as a sign that you can and will do the work. In fact, a vast improvement as a junior and even senior indicates to a college that you have overcome a challenge or settled down.
Myth # 2: Once you’re accepted you have nothing to worry about.
Absolutely wrong! An acceptance letter is a conditional acceptance. I encourage my clients to read the signature portion of their Common Applications! Colleges can legally reject you right up to registration!
Myth # 3: Is my Facebook profile considered in the application process?
According to a recent survey, over a quarter of college admissions officers today include Google and Facebook in application evaluations; 35% report discovering information that negatively impacted prospective students’ chances. My advice: clean up your social media profile.
Myth # 4: My child has a 4.0 GPA, is in the top 5% of his class and is a shoo-in.
College admissions is global competition for limited slots. I always advise my clients that they are competing with peers domestically, nationally and internationally. So it’s great you’re at the top of your class at your school, however, for the global admissions process you have to stand out amongst students who you don’t know and from schools you have never heard of!
Myth # 5: Superior grades and high standardized test scores are more important than essays.
Selective colleges can accept their freshman class 3 times over just based on the criteria of high GPA and SAT scores. They view other criteria, mainly essays, as decision breakers. In fact, starting this summer, the Common Application will have five new essay prompts to choose from and will be enforcing word limits for the first time. College admissions officers view essays as a crucial means of revealing what grades and test scores can not: a student’s essence, character, and the story behind a transcript.
Check back for the second part of our "Ten Myths" blog.
Dr. Lowe is President of Pinnacle Educational Center and Managing Director of the Admissions Advisors Group. He is the lead admissions expert at the Admissions Advisors Group: Woodbridge Admissions Advisors (www.woodbridgeadmissionsadvisors.com) and Greenwich Admissions Advisors (www.greenwichadmissionsadvisors) Tel: (203) 387-1574 | (203) 542-7288