Top 10 College Admissions Myths

on March 2, 2017

College admissions myths are harmful because they students make mistakes that can hurt their admission chances or cause them to apply to the wrong colleges. College admissions myths also contribute to student stress.


Here is a list of the most common college admissions myths.


There is a Perfect College


Your life is not ruined if you don’t get into your first-choice college. There are hundreds of colleges that are right for you. Try to avoid getting your heart set on one college. Try a pick-three approach, where you focus on three colleges that are a good match for you. Since most students get in to at least one of their three favorite colleges, you’ll be happier with the outcome.


College Rankings are Extremely Important


College rankings do not provide a personalized match that considers your criteria and goals. Colleges with top rankings might be too expensive, not offer the right majors or provide cafeteria food that is unfit for human consumption. Only about a fifth of high school seniors consider college rankings to be very important in choosing a college. Only about 6 percent of college students are enrolled in one of the top 100 colleges.


You Must Enroll in a Big-Name College


Students (and parents) often feel that they must choose the most prestigious college that admits them. College is what you make of it, not what it makes of you. You can be successful at any college, if you graduate. Most famous and powerful people graduated from public colleges, not the Ivy League.


Increase the Odds of Getting into the Ivy League by Applying to All of Them


After all, if these colleges admit about 10 percent of their applicants, won’t applying to all 10 increase the odds of admission 100 percent? No. The math doesn’t work that way. These colleges do not choose who they admit at random. The odds of getting in are not related to the sum or product of the individual odds. Rather, if your profile isn’t good enough, you probably will be rejected by all ten of the most selective colleges.


Colleges Cap the Number of Students from Each High School


Colleges evaluate each application on its merits, without regard to the number of students already admitted from the school. For example, my high school graduating class was academically talented, with one third admitted to Princeton and a quarter to Harvard.


Unsolicited College Information Means Easy Admission


The opposite might actually be true. Colleges solicit applications to make themselves appear more selective. In other words, they might be seeking your application in order to reject it.


My Child is a Shoe-In to an Ivy League College


Nobody is guaranteed admission to any college, no matter how talented. Many talented students apply for admission to Ivy League institutions each year, and many talented students are rejected each year. Good grades and admissions test scores are not enough.


College Visits Don’t Matter


Some colleges use demonstrated interest to influence their college admissions decisions. Demonstrated interest measures the extent of a student’s interest in the college. A student who visits is more likely to enroll, if admitted, than a student who does not visit. College admissions officers use demonstrated interest to increase the percentage of admitted students who enroll. This can affect college rankings. Also, visiting campus lets you judge whether the college is a good fit based on the actual environment, as opposed to marketing messages. For example, you can’t taste the cafeteria food without visiting.


After Admission, Relax


Avoid senioritis, where your academic performance slacks off after acceptance letters arrive. If your grades suffer, colleges can rescind admission.


Getting into College is Really Hard


Sure, getting into an elite college, like one of the Ivy League colleges, is very difficult. But getting into a typical college isn’t all that difficult. Most colleges have better than 50/50 odds of admitting a student. If you apply to a good mix of colleges, you have a good chance of getting into at least one of them. More than 94 percent of first-year college students are attending one of their top three choices.

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