Top 10 College Application Myths

on March 1, 2017

College application myths lead students to make mistakes on college admissions applications, which can affect their odds of admission.


Here’s a list of the most common college application myths:


Colleges Want Well-Rounded Students


Colleges are looking for a well-rounded class, not a class of well-rounded students. Depth matters more than breadth. Colleges are not impressed by a long list of extracurricular activities, sports, academic clubs, hobbies and community service. They’d rather admit a student who excels in one or two areas than a student who joins many activities but does not make significant contributions to any of them.


Optional Interviews are Optional


Optional interviews provide students with another opportunity to highlight their talents to the college. More importantly, it is another opportunity to demonstrate the student’s interest in the college. Students who skip the optional interview are less likely to be admitted.


High Test Scores Guarantee Admission


The majority of students applying for admission at an elite college are capable of doing the work. Having high SAT or ACT test scores usually does not distinguish one student from another. Academic transcripts and grade point average often are more important than admissions test scores. Also, at the other end of the spectrum, most two-year colleges and open admission four-year colleges do not require test scores.


Admissions Interviews Compensate for Weak Academics


Although admissions interviews provide students with an opportunity to explain low grades, interviews usually are scored along a social/personal dimension, not an academic dimension. Some college admissions officers use them to confirm what an admissions office already knows. The admissions interview is not among the top 10 college admissions criteria at most colleges.


No One Knows if Your Parent Wrote Your Essay


College admission officers have more experience in detecting attempts to game the system than parents have in manipulating the admissions application. After reading thousands of essays, college admissions staff find it easy to tell when a parent wrote the essay. Parents have a different lexicon and writing style than their children.


Ask Business Leaders, Politicians or Famous People for Letters of Recommendation


Name-dropping does not impress colleges, even if a member of their board of trustees writes the letter. Such a letter does not matter, unless the author knows you well. Letters from teachers are more important because the teacher has worked with you for an extended period of time.


Teachers Who Give High Grades Write Good Letters of Recommendation


If a teacher is an easy A, you won’t stand out from among your peers. It is better to demonstrate improvement as the academic year progresses than to start off with perfect scores.


Take Easy Classes to get a High GPA


Colleges consider the difficulty of the classes you took, especially in the core academic subjects. It is best to take AP classes and honors classes, even if you will get slightly lower grades in those classes.


College Admissions are a Senior Year Concern


Colleges consider your academic performance from the freshman year onward. A bad grade as a high school freshman won’t ruin your chances of admission, since colleges like to see students who take challenging classes and demonstrate improvement in academic performance.


Social Media Doesn’t Matter


You should clean up your online presence before applying for admission, since colleges are increasingly looking online for red flags. According to a 2016 survey by Kaplan Test Prep, 40 percent of college admissions offices check social media. Of those who look at a student’s Facebook account, 37 percent found something that hurt the student’s admissions chances.



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