Everyone who has gone through the college application process has opinions and advice. However, since trends in admissions change every year, what was true for your parents, friends, or siblings might not be true for you!

Here’s the truth about four of the most common college admissions myths:

  1. “To show that I’m well-rounded, I should have many, varied activities.”
    • While we understand the desire to appear well-rounded, it is more important that your application have a cohesive narrative that showcases your genuine passions. By trying to select an activity from every category possible, you may be watering down your personal narrative. If a student has spent equal time doing volunteer work, playing sports, singing, running for class president, and babysitting, it’s hard for admissions officers to get a good sense of who they are.
  1. “I can only get into an Ivy League school with perfect grades and SAT/ACT scores.”
    • Ivy League schools, and many others, have moved to a holistic review process. This means not simply judging an applicant’s hard numbers (GPA and standardized test scores), but rather the whole application. Many students are admitted to top-tier universities every year without perfect numbers, which can be seen clearly through public class profiles. It’s also worth noting that many applicants with perfect numbers do not get in! These schools want applicants who are strong across all areas, not simply academics. Remember, each part of an application is taken into account. Otherwise, schools wouldn't bother asking for and reading all that additional information!
  1. “It’s helpful to get recommendations from famous people, even if they don’t know me well.”
    • Please do not accept a recommendation from anyone who does not know you directly in an academic or professional capacity. Admissions officers read thousands of letters each year, and can quickly identify weak connections. Remember that an admissions office can contact that person to ask for clarification, and they have every right to bring up your recommendations in an interview. It can be very awkward when an applicant is forced to share that their recommender is mom’s friend. Stick to the people who know your academic potential and work ethic best.
  • “I have to go to a top school to get my dream job or go to grad school.”
    • Graduate programs and jobs don’t exclusively select applicants from one school. Your motivation, determination, and work ethic are what will bring you to that next level. Your future does not depend on you gaining acceptance to an Ivy League institution—or any other for that matter! Fit is what’s most important. Very frequently, students’ second choice or backup ends up being a perfect fit. It may sound cliche, but it’s true: college is what you make of it!

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