It is no secret that Colleges are looking for exceptional individuals to join their campus community. They are seeking students that contribute value to both their culture and academics. While there is no set of guidelines that will land students into their school of choice, there are concrete decisions they can make during their high school career that will increase their chances of getting in.
Over the years, Colleges have adapted to the competitive nature of admissions, forcing some to become impacted. During this progression, information and the process surrounding admissions has become a pool for miscued do’s and don’ts when applying to College. In the following piece, we outline 4 key myths college applicants should be aware of when they prepare their College applications:
Myth #1: The More Extracurricular Activities, The Better
It is true that Colleges are interested in knowing about how you spend your time outside the classroom. In the application process, they will want to see what type of commitment or leadership roles student has, what type of success or failures they encountered and how they learned from those experiences.
The biggest misconception about extracurricular activities is that a student needs to accumulate as many as possible in an effort to show diversity or work ethic. Unless all of the activities bring true value to a student’s life, a student should participate in what is authentic to them. The quality of their activities is much more relevant than the quantity of the activities.
Myth #2: High Test Scores Outweigh Admissions Essays
A student’s GPA tells admissions whether they can excel in an academic setting, and can also be used as a way to measure the effort and time that the student devoted to their studies. Together, a student’s testing scores and GPA form a strong picture of a students quantitative aptitude in relation to others candidates.
Although an admission officer doesn’t place a numerical value on the candidate – they observe the full profile including a student’s essays. Essays are certainly an important component of the application and could be the thing that separates a student from another candidate with similar test scores and GPA. Essays fill in the gaps between who the candidate is as a person and their paper credentials, such as test scores, GPA, and resume.
Myth #3: Name-Dropping Helps
You know that old saying, ‘it’s not what you know – it’s who you know’? In certain situations, that may be true, but when it comes to college admissions students may want to steer clear of doing so.
Name-dropping either in essays, admission interviews or letters of recommendation will not impress the admissions committee. Unless a student has a personal relationship with an alumna or renowned individual, they should avoid using that as a way to leverage their application.
Myth #4: Colleges Don’t Look at Social Media
Although admissions committees are mainly using traditional factors such as a student’s high school GPA, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, personal essays and extracurricular activities to determine a student’s candidacy, it is becoming more common that universities will reference social platforms as a tool for both recruiting new students and communicating with applicants, the student body, and alumni.
If a student is not taking their online presence into consideration when applying to colleges, and using social media in a negative way, it could be the thing to cause issues with their candidacy. Student’s want to make sure they are taking control over their online reputation by monitoring what they are saying, posting and sharing with the world. Students may even consider using social media as a tool speak about like-minded interests between themselves and the colleges they are applying to.
The College admission landscape is constantly evolving. The standards that were once in place 10 years are completely different today. In a process as complex and ambiguous as applying to college, students should stay current with the best practices of college admissions in order to escape any missteps during the application process.