College Admissions can stress out even the calmest, coolest, and most collected of students (and parents.) It is a wonderful thing to be determined, passionate, and ambitious when applying to your dream school. However, not having a backup plan, that’s not a good idea. College admission odds for the Ivy Leagues are at an all-time low, with acceptance rates sometimes below 10%. Non-Ivy League schools like Stanford are also increasingly competitive with acceptance rates hovering around 10%. Some good news, though, is that these are mostly exceptions to the rule. Very few schools reject more than they accept. Even with all these statistics thrown out there to scare you, there is no need to be. There are many rumors and antiquated theories circulating around college admissions and we want to shed some light on the truth of these.
Myth #1: My social media accounts won’t be checked.
In our technology-driven age, it is largely assumed you have social media accounts. They will be checked. Think of it this way, a college has a large pool of stellar, equally qualified students. What are they to do? Look for reasons to reject. If you have anything you wouldn’t want the whole world to see, it’s time to clean it up. While this may seem like an invasion to you, remember social media is how you express yourself, to the world. With that being said, college admissions also use it sometimes to get to know you better, not to judge you out of admission. It could improve your chances just as well as hurt them.
Myth #2: I need a laundry list of extracurriculars.
Being a well-rounded student includes activities outside of the classroom. It is always a good idea to involve yourself with extracurricular activities. However, be intentional. Don’t give in to pressure and involve yourself in 8 different clubs where you feel so overwhelmed you can hardly contribute. Choose ones that genuinely interest you and will serve as an opportunity to immerse yourself and create change. Colleges won’t care about the list of organizations, they’ll care about what you did in them. Attending meetings isn’t impressive. Organizing, coordinating, planning, and delivering results is. Choose activities you’re passionate about and convey that in your interview.
Myth #3: If I’m a bright, well-rounded student with high marks, they’ll accept me.
Unfortunately, that’s not always true. It’s not your fault, though. Schools are usually recruiting a class, rather than individual students. They need many different puzzle pieces to make the whole picture. In other words, you must excel at something: music, sports, debate, science, art, theater, you name it. They are trying to fit who you will be on campus and what contributions you’ll bring to the school. Don’t let this intimidate you, though. We know you have awesome skills, articulate them well in your admissions essay.
Myth #4: Essays don’t matter.
They do. Admissions officers read A LOT of essays. They’ve built up an impressive set of skills to judge an essay quickly and accurately. Wrote in an hour before you applied? They’ll know. Didn’t proofread? They’ll notice. Wrote, proofread, and delivered a thoughtful and meaningful essay? They’ll rejoice. Take this essay seriously and use it as an opportunity to set yourself apart from the other students. You might all have top marks, but how do you use your intelligence and skills? What will you contribute as a student at the school? Use this opportunity to shine!
Myth #5: Top tier schools are too expensive for the average student.
You know the top tier schools- Princeton, Harvard, Yale, the list goes on. So does their sticker price. You see that $60,000 or more price tag and practically faint. How could a middle-class family afford a school like this? These well established, alumni backed schools also have impressive endowments and a strong commitment to helping qualified students attend. This means they are typically generous with their financial aid when a student needs it. In fact, for a highly qualified student, attending one of these schools may be cheaper than attending a second-tier school.