Don't Fall for these 10 College Admissions Myths
The Admittedly Team
Do you find when you tell people that you are applying to college, you suddenly find you are acquainted with countless self-proclaimed college admissions experts? The topic of applying to college generates a lot of buzz and people wanting to offer their two cents. Generally, the advice you’ll receive comes from a genuine place of caring, but can often be misinformed, and based on their singular perspective and experiences. During my time as a college admissions counselor, I heard TONS of rumors prospective students fell victim to. In order for you to avoid these rumors, I’ve listed the top ten myths and provided the reasoning behind why they are false.
1. It’s better to get good grades than take challenging courses.
You always want to make sure that you are taking the most challenging courses possible, as long as they won’t be completely detrimental to your GPA. It also shows admissions officers that you can handle advanced coursework and succeed in college-level coursework. Also, weighted GPAs are definitely your friend if you’re thinking of taking the most challenging courses because you’ll get more “weight” for your grades in a more challenging course (i.e. Honors, etc) so a 3.0 in an Honors class could equate to a 3.6 is a non-Honors class. You’ll want to check with your school about their weighting policies to get a better idea of how your GPA will be tabulated.
2.Standardized tests (SAT/ACT) are more important than my grades.
While admissions officers certainly consider SAT and/or ACT scores, standardized tests don’t typically hold more weight than your GPA. Often time, colleges are looking at a combination of factors to determine admission. If you are a solid test taker, please don’t slack off in the classroom and expect your high test scores to be your saving grace. Another important thing to note is that each year, the amount of schools that are going test-optional is growing.
3.The listed tuition price will be exactly what I pay.
When assessing college affordability, the first thing to understand is the difference between sticker price and net price. Sticker price in simple terms is the published tuition price before any sort of financial aid (scholarships, grants, loans, work-study etc.) is factored in. The net price is what a student ACTUALLY pays after financial aid. It’s very rare that students pay the sticker price. Even if a college you are considering gives you sticker shock, still send your completed FAFSA (free application for federal student aid) to them and apply for other institutional aid that may be available. The financial aid package they provide you may be a pleasant surprise.
4. Being super involved in HS will compensate for my poor grades.
It is true that colleges are seeking well-rounded students who will positively contribute to the overall campus vibrancy, but they also want to make sure you can hang academically and ultimately, will succeed. With that being said, you NEVER want to prioritize your extracurricular involvement over getting good grades.
5. I have to know exactly what I want my major/career to be before I decide on a college.
College is all about exploration – both academic and personal. While it’s good to have an idea of what interests you, there’s absolutely no need to commit to anything before you enroll. Aside from a small percentage of undergrads, most students don’t usually declare a major until their sophomore year. Even then, they are likely to change their minds. When the time does come, check out our advice on deciding your major.
6. You should attend the most prestigious college that accepts you.
Please do not fall victim to the “name game.” Prestige does not always equal the best. The highest rated university in the country might not actually prove to be a good fit for YOU. Instead, when you research colleges, look beyond rankings and ratings. Ask yourself important questions such as: Are there programs that interest you? What’s the teaching style like at a particular school? Do I enjoy the overall campus vibe? The happier you are at a college, the more likely you’ll succeed.
7. You have a better chance of getting into graduate/professional school if you attend a university that offers that particular degree.
If you aspire to attend law, medical, business etc. schools after earning your undergraduate degree it makes sense to think that attending a university that also have law, medical, business, etc. would guarantee acceptance into these programs later down the road. Unfortunately, most graduate programs do not give preferential treatment to applicants who received bachelor’s degrees from their own institution. Instead, focus on choosing the university where you’ll be most likely to succeed, and that will set you up for future success.
8.Liberal arts colleges do not have good science programs.
Contrary to the name, liberal arts colleges frequently offer amazing science programs. While the number of science majors and available classes might be lower than a large university, undergrads can definitely receive a strong science education. Small class sizes (at a liberal arts college) help to ensure lots of hands-on time in the lab and close professor relationships.
9. Admissions offices would never look at my social media accounts.
About a third of admissions officers will actually search applicants on social media platforms to get a better idea of who an applicant is and check for any red flags. It’s smart to make all of your accounts private, but always keep in mind that screenshots are a very real thing. It’s best to just keep anything off your social media that you’d be embarrassed if the admissions office happened to see. It’s smart to do a little social media stalking of yourself before you hit submit on those apps. Check out our article on cleaning up your social media for college.
10. Public schools provide more financial aid than private colleges.
Public schools receive funding from the government that helps keep their sticker price lower. With that being said, institutional aid (scholarships and grants) is a bit more sparse at public schools. You will see that although private schools can bring a higher sticker price, they may be able to offset it through grants and scholarships to be more competitive with public schools.