College Counseling & Planning      Orleans, MA. (774) 801-2449      Ashland, OR. (541) 488-0919
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--Hannah Ewing, Kenyon College, 2015

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STEERING CLEAR OF MISCONCEPTIONS OF COLLEGE ADMISSIONS?

STEERING CLEAR OF MISCONCEPTIONS OF COLLEGE ADMISSIONS? The college application season for seniors is in full swing and juniors are beginning to wake up to the fact that their turn is coming. Before getting further enmeshed in the process let’s consider some the myths that are floating around the halls and infiltrating parent conversations.

Rather than ask you to take a test on the following myths, I’ll make it easy. They are all false.
#1: The SATs Do Not Count As Much Anymore.
Although most colleges proclaim that standardized test scores are not as important as the rest of your application, nevertheless they are considered and if they fall below the school’s accepted range or they are not in line with your GPA, they can hurt your chances of acceptance.

#2: Your Peers Are Your Best Advisers.
Your friend may be your best friend and know you very well, but he or she does not have the knowledge to advise you as to which college would give you the best experience. Friends without complete knowledge of a college will tend to stereotype and offer authoritative-sounding advice. Simply stated, they have not had enough experience to advise you.

#3: The Senior Year Doesn't Matter
This is a trap for many a senior. First, colleges do look to see if a senior has continued to take a rigorous course load. Second, all colleges ask for a mid-year report which they check to be sure that a high level of achievement has been maintained. Finally, colleges require a final transcript that demonstrates that students have completed their senior year in good standing with challenging courses.

#4: Valedictorians Are Always Victorious
Don't assume that even a straight ‘A’ record in tough courses is an automatic ticket to the ivy
walls. Top institutions have more valedictorians and straight ‘A’ scholars seeking entry than
they know what to do with. Most colleges look at the total application including
recommendations, extra-curricular activities, and the essays when making their final decisions.
Just having a high GPA or test scores won’t get you accepted if the rest of your record is
lacking.

#5: No One Reads the Applications
Applications are read and evaluated once, twice and sometimes three times by different admission counselors. These readers critique and award nonacademic and academic ratings, write an evaluation of a candidate's strengths and weaknesses, and make recommendations for admission, denial or wait list. Well-written essays can be critical. Essays should be crafted with the focus being on who you are, what you think, and what your academic and life goals are.

#6: An Admissions Interview Can Make or Break a Candidate
For most colleges or universities the interview is no longer a deciding factor. It is viewed as
more of an opportunity for an exchange of information between the college and the candidate.
It is a time for you to learn more about the school and for the school to try to convince you
what a great experience you would have.

#7: Connections Will Get You In
Just knowing someone important is not sufficient to put you at the head of the applicant pack. This is especially true if that someone knows your father, but doesn’t know you. A letter from an influential person who does know you might give additional information about your character and contribute to the strength of your application, but it won’t tell the admission committee whether you are a right match for that school. The contents of a letter of recommendation are much more important than the name at the bottom.

#8: The Process Is Apolitical
One of the hard lessons of life is that sometimes it isn’t fair – or at least doesn’t seem to be. Colleges are forming a freshman class and, as a consequence, they are looking for different talents, skills, and interests. Therefore, if you have an ‘admissions hook’, use it. If you are a member of a minority group, check the appropriate box on the application forms. If you are a legacy and are interested in the college of your parents, apply. If you are interested in a particular discipline, especially one that is under-populated -- contact the professors in that department and inform them of your interest. Whether you are an athlete, an artist, a talented musician or a creative writer you should let that be known.

#9: It Pays To Get Into the Toughest College You Can
Going to a very competitive school is not always the smartest move. Although the primary objective of a college education is to learn as much as you can, if you are going to struggle to survive you might be defeating yourself. If you are holed up in the library for four years in order to graduate then you are going to miss some important aspects of your college experience. In addition you want to graduate with a transcript that will be respected by graduate schools. An ‘A’ from a less competitive college will serve you better when applying to graduate school than a ‘C+’ or ‘B-’ from a highly competitive schools.

#10: Parents Don’t Know Anything
The truth is that of all the people advising you, your parents know you the best. After all, they
have lived with you the longest and have the surest insights into how you react to different environments and situations. Listen to them. They are much smarter than you might guess!

Judith Christie
College Planning Consultants