There are several college admissions myths which should be exposed before you apply. These myths often scare certain students from applying to the best schools. Never limit yourself from applying to top colleges because you believe these things:
(10) Applicants are pre-screened.
Whether using the common application or a school-specific application, college admission offices have enough staff members to read your entire application. After all, you pay an application fee for a reason and colleges want to make sure you get your fair chance. However, if your application is incomplete or missing crucial components (essays, transcripts, or supplements) this might explain why it is rejected, or pre-screened out, before it reaches the full committee.
(9) You must choose your major and stick to it.
When you apply to college, admissions officers know your major is bound to change. In fact, many admissions offices have reported that the majority of their students change their major by the end of their freshman year. Don't worry about choosing your major. Pick a department or major where you have a genuine interest, and be open-minded to changing it once you're enrolled.
(8) You must apply early decision or early action.
Yes, applying early decision or early action shows a student is committed to a particular college. But you do not have to apply early to be accepted, even to top colleges. In fact, if you're deferred in the early decision or early application round, your application goes right back into the regular pool and will be re-evaluated again.
(7) Colleges have a certain profile of the “perfect" student.
While colleges strive to admit students who will fit into their college, there's simply no way for a college to predict whether a student will be happy or whether they will actually succeed at their college. This is why colleges don't set a particular admissions profile for the “perfect" student.
(6) Ivy League schools don't give scholarships.
Although Ivy League schools say they only allocate “need-based" scholarships, there's no doubt that certain schools issue other grants and fellowships based on other criteria. If you're a top athlete, recruit or a national merit scholar, an Ivy League school will go out of its way to make sure you can afford their school.
(5) International students don't receive scholarships or loans.
More colleges are looking to diversify their student body with international students; major banks and financial institutions offer the same financial opportunities for international students as they do American applicants. Scholarships and fellowships are available for international students.
(4) You should pad your resume with extracurricular activities.
Every admissions officer is a human being. Imagine that. Applications aren't accepted or rejected by a computer. So when filling out this section of the common app , know that admissions offices can (and do) spot superfluous extracurricular activities. Further, they can certainly tell whether you added an extracurricular because you have a genuine interest or because it “looks good" on your resume.
(3) Recommendations don't matter.
Great recommendations are vital. You cannot expect to be admitted simply with high scores and great grades. If an admissions officer sees a perfunctory or suspicious recommendation, it will set off a red flag. Bottom line: choose the recommender who knows you best and make sure they know where you're applying and what your qualifications are.
(2) There's a GPA Cut-Off.
Colleges generally don't have a GPA cut-off. The reason admissions offices don't have a GPA “cut-off" is because students come from all sorts of different high schools with varying curriculums and grade structures. Some students attend public schools, others private schools where the GPA ranges could be wider or narrower. Further, there has been much discussion about grade inflation, and colleges do know what particular high schools tend to have higher GPAs than others. Whether this is so-called grade inflation or not, the schools have an idea of what schools have a more competitive curriculum, including more AP, IB and honors courses. Be aware of your GPA and explain discrepancies in your transcript.
(1) There's always an SAT/ACT Cut-Off.
Some state colleges do have a cut-off for SAT/ACT scores. But the majority of American Universities do not. So keep working on your test scores but don't fear the mythical cut-off.
If your SAT scores or ACT scores aren't as high as you'd like them to be, you can improve your score with test prep and admissions counseling.
Hope these admissions myths were answered.
Ross Blankenship is an admissions consultant and admissions counselor. He is also an author and co-founder of Miro Advantage and http://www.TopTestPrep.com , which help with test prep and admissions for students and parents in the admissions process.