Adults generally mean well when they give you advice on aspects of life. And a lot of their advice still holds true and should be taken to heart. However, there are some tidbits – like knocking on doors to get jobs – that are simply out of date or just plain wrong. And that holds true of college admissions and planning advice, too.
Some of the tips they give students worked well when they went to college. But the advice could also come from other adults meaning well that they’ve heard through the grapevine – those who went to college but majored in something drastically different from you, those who work in the K-12 field but don’t necessarily work closely with students’ college dreams, and those who live near a college campus but have never gone to college themselves.
When it comes to weeding fact from fiction, it’s important to do your own research. If you are receiving advice but it seems off to you, make sure to look it up on your own and have a few reliable sources in hand.
Here is some out-of-date college admissions advice you could be hearing right now!
College Admissions Advice (That’s No Longer Relevant)
1. The SAT or ACT Is Always Required
Years ago, almost all colleges and universities required the student to take either the SAT or ACT in order to apply. However, in recent years, many are doing away with that notion. They are either making the tests optional for students or getting rid of the requirement or recommendation altogether.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should skip the SAT or ACT altogether. It’s likely some schools on your list will require the test after all. But if your parents wonder why a school you’re applying to isn’t listed on your SAT/ACT test results page, you can tell them why!
2. It’s Hard to Find Scholarships
Pre-internet, or even early internet, this may have been true. You had to go to the guidance department of your high school and hope they had some applications for you. Back in 2006, my school, for example, had 6 scholarships listed as available to students through the community – none of which I was eligible for. And they had no advice for me to help me find them on my own.
Thankfully, scholarship databases are everywhere today! College Raptor even has one. These resources allow you to input your information and help you find the awards you qualify for from all over the country. They can even simplify the application process!
3. You Shouldn’t Apply to FAFSA If You Have a Higher Income
The Free Application for Federal Student AId (FAFSA) is often seen as a bridge for helping lower-income students attend college, and while that is true, it’s not the whole story. While you may not be eligible for things like the Pell Grant due to your family’s higher income, you could very well be eligible for a college’s grant or financial aid package.
Schools have their own methods of granting money to students through their endowment programs. Not meeting the requirements for federal aid doesn’t automatically rule you out of school grants. And if you weren’t offered anything in your first year of college, requirements can change year over year. Meaning you could receive a financial aid package in your sophomore year even if you didn’t during your freshman year.
4. The Sticker Price Is What You Will Always Pay to Attend a College
This ties into the previous “bad advice” point. Many parents (and students) will look at the sticker price of a college and rule it out on that number alone. After all, a college education can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Families can be turned away by those higher price points before the student even applies.
However, students rarely pay that sticker price thanks to schools’ generous institutional grant aid programs. And simply applying for the school, even if you can’t afford the sticker price, won’t hurt! You may be surprised by the financial aid package that comes with your acceptance letter.
5. You Always Have to Know Your Major Before Applying
Schools may ask you for your major during the application process. But that does NOT mean students have to know their major before applying.
In most cases, though, students don’t have to select a major until the end of their sophomore year or the beginning of their junior year! While you can be sure about your intended major before you even graduate high school, you don’t always have to declare it.
There are some exceptions to this, however. Some programs, such as engineering, do require students to declare their major during the application process. This is due to the fact that the field in question is extremely competitive and they only have so many slots in the program. Note that applying to these more competitive fields will result in a lower acceptance rate than other less competitive programs.
6. Everyone Needs to Go to College to Succeed
For decades, students have been told they need to go to college if they want to succeed in life. And while college can be a necessity for many positions out there, it is not always required to succeed. Plumbing, electricity, auto repair, firefighting, sales, and other fields are available with little to no further education after high school. And they can absolutely be great jobs, especially if it’s your passion.
These are just some of the well-meaning, but out-of-date pieces of advice you may be hearing from your parents or other adults in your life and during your college admissions process.
One of the pieces of advice you may have heard is the fact that scholarships are hard to find, but with College Raptor, they don’t have to be. We have a Scholarship Search Tool set up for you to start using today!