There is so much misinformation out there about the college admissions process, it's a bit crazy! From problematic lies about applicant and college stereotypes to misunderstandings about financial aid and scholarships, we hear it all every year. You'd be surprised just how many students AND parents operate on untrue beliefs that end up jeopardising their / their child's college application.
Here are a few of the myths that we've come across here at AIM, debunked with the facts.
MYTH 1: "IT'S GOOD TO BE WELL-ROUNDED"
Being well-rounded is never a BAD thing, but going too wide instead of deep with your pursuits doesn't always work to your benefit-- especially in college admissions. Being "well-rounded" isn't the issue... It's appearing to be too 'well-rounded' that can be the kiss of death in the college admissions process.
What does "too well-rounded" mean? The reality is that there is only so much time in the day... week... month. If a student extends himself thin enough to be associated with 20 different concurrent extracurricular activities, it raises the question of how committed and involved are you to any one of these activities? Let's do the math.
There are 168 hours in a week... really 120 hours without the weekend. The average teenager gets about 7 hours a sleep per night - which leaves 85 hours of awake time. School takes up 30 hours per week, leaving you with 55 awake hours outside of the classroom. Factor in that you spend 2 hours traveling to and from school, 1 hour getting ready for school, 2 hours on homework, 1 hour getting ready for bed, and 1 hour of leisure time every day? That leaves you with 20 hours of "free time".
Being involved in 20 extracurriculars then would mean that you only have 1 hour per week to spend on any of those activities. That may be enough to physically show up for a meeting, but not enough to truly be involved in the activity.
Additionally, a student that appears as overly 'well-rounded' can be viewed by the admissions office as being unsure of their exact pursuit. Colleges want to know that their prospects are certain of their intended study area and career trajectory. So stick to a few activities that you're REALLY passionate about... and be committed to each of them 100%!
MYTH 2: "NO STRAIGHT A'S, NO COLLEGE"
It's no doubt that grades are very important in the college application process. They enable the institution to gauge your ability to perform in a formal education setting-- which is what college is, just in case you thought otherwise.
Colleges do, however, also take into account the proficiency level of the courses taken. For example, a 'B' in an Advanced Proficiency (AP) level course is considered a more outstanding achievement than an 'A' in a regular grade-level proficiency course. Yes, A's are the goal; but, not having straight A's will not be the end of your college application journey.
Colleges also acknowledge that academics and test taking are NOT the strongest suit for EVERYONE. That's why many of them today take a more holistic approach to admissions by looking at various plot points: your GPA, your transcript... but also your essays, your extracurricular involvement and your leadership skills. This levels out the playing field for applicants, and allows college campuses to build communities that are not just academically strong, but also diverse in terms of interests and abilities.
MYTH 3: "I CAN'T GO TO COLLEGE BECAUSE MY PARENTS CAN'T AFFORD IT"
The reality here is that college can be an incredibly expensive investment. That's no secret. But your options are NOT limited. There are approximately 5300 colleges in the United States alone, all at various price points and offering various financial aid and scholarship packages.
The price tag of attending a college can look like a lot, but the fact is that as of 2021, 83.8% of first year college students
were attending college on some form of financial aid -- whether it be grants, scholarships or loans from institutions or the government.
We are in an era where education is being valued more than ever before... and financial institutions know this. In fact, an estimated US$100 million
in scholarship money goes unawarded every year
, mostly due to a lack of applicants.
The money is there... it's up to you to find where it is and apply for it.
The good news is that the college prep programs at AIM assist in seeking financial aid DIRECTLY from the universities and colleges that you're applying to. If you're heading to college this year, you can book your Financial Aid session with us HERE
. If you're heading to college within the next 2-4 years, book an Initial Strategy Session
with us today to get started on your college dream journey.
MYTH 4: SAT / ACT SCORES DON'T MATTER BECAUSE SEVERAL COLLEGES ARE TEST OPTIONAL
Do the test.
Once you are able to, choosing to sit the SAT/ ACT exams will always add value to your already stellar application and may even end up being the reason you gain admission.
Take a look at our article on the Test Optional
college admissions process and see why recommend taking the test regardless of whether your prospective school is test-optional or test-blind.
MYTH 4: YOU HAVE TO GET A RECOMMENDATION FROM A TEACHER WHO GAVE YOU GOOD GRADES
While this may be the best option at face value, it can also be to your detriment. The recommendation letter requires great nuance and demonstration of a complex understanding of the student and their abilities.
You could have gotten straight A's in a class taught by a teacher who doesn't even know your first name. A recommendation coming from this teacher (if they agree to write one) is bound to sound generic and unimpressionable. It may be more beneficial to go with a teacher you have developed a relationship with (and oftentimes, this may be the teacher who you spend the most time with getting extra help from because you may be struggling in their class).
If you have stellar grades in a class with a teacher that you have a great relationship with... even better! But don't base this decision purely off of your grades. So ensure that whomever you ask to write this letter is able to provide the kind of recommendation that you need to earn a spot in the college of your choice.
Our team here at the AIM Online Academy is ready to debunk any other myths you may have and set you on the winning track. Book your Initial Strategy Consultation today!