College Admission Myths – Fact or Fiction?

Old college admission myths die hard. And the college admissions process is still shrouded in misconceptions.

Your high school seniors are likely getting conflicting information from well-meaning friends and family, and it can be tough to decipher fact from fiction. For instance, many people would probably be shocked to learn that most students are admitted to their first college of choice. But unfortunately, many can’t attend because of cost. 

As a guidance counselor, ensuring your students are well-informed from the beginning can help reduce some of their stress. So, let’s clear up some of the most stubborn college admission myths in that spirit. 

Myth #1: The More Extracurricular Activities, the Better

Many high school parents and even administrators push their students to get involved in as many extracurriculars as possible to improve their college admission chances. However, it’s essential for students to understand that colleges aren’t looking for “well-rounded” students but rather a well-rounded student body. Therefore, a student doesn’t have to participate in a litany of clubs and activities to bolster their application.

Ultimately, the quality of the extracurricular activities matters, not the quantity. It’s also of note that these activities do not outweigh academic achievement or how students perform on entrance exams.

And speaking of standardized tests…

Myth #2: Having a High SAT or ACT Score Guarantees Admission

College Admission Myths

Here’s a hard truth: a perfect SAT score doesn’t guarantee entry into Ivy League colleges or other top schools. Students don’t need a perfect score to get into these colleges. 

A student’s SAT or ACT score is only one part of their college application. Admissions officers look at students’ applications holistically, and standardized tests are just one part of the equation. In addition, many colleges recognize that exam scores don’t tell the entire story about a student’s intellectual abilities or academic strengths.

So, please encourage your students to apply to their preferred schools of choice even when their SAT or ACT scores are less than stellar. Otherwise, they might miss out on a great opportunity because of a myth. 

Myth #3: Students’ Social Media Accounts Won’t Be Checked

Do admissions officers look at the social media accounts of students? Without a doubt!

Some colleges have rescinded admission offers in the last few years because of what they discovered on social media. Think of it this way; colleges have a large pool of stellar students, so they’re looking for reasons to thin the pool. After all, there will always be another equally qualified student to take up the spot. 

Advise students that admission officers take a peek at their social media accounts to know them better. Also, just because their profiles are private doesn’t mean what they post doesn’t matter. Nothing is really private or deleted in the age of screen recording, whether it’s an inappropriate photo or an uninformed comment.

Myth #4: Colleges Only Want Straight-A Students

Of course, grades matter. But getting a couple of bad grades won’t completely ruin a student’s chances of getting into a top college. Admissions officers are looking for evidence that an applicant can succeed in college. For instance, getting a B in an AP level class can be more impressive than an A in a grade-level class. Still, it’s unlikely for a C or D to wow anyone.

That isn’t to say that students should take many AP classes as they may not be able to manage the course load. Balance is key. 

Also, in the next few years, colleges will likely consider the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on academic performance. Many students had to study from home, and not all of them had the tools or resources to keep their grades stellar.