With over 2 million students who opt for college education every year in the United States, getting into a top tier college isn’t easy. If you think the college admissions office is your best source of information, think again! Let’s take a look at the ten things college admissions office simply won’t tell you.
1. Your essay is not trustworthy
You must have heard about application essays and personal statements long before you thought about taking admission into your dream college. While essays have a decent amount of weightage in the admissions process do not expect a lucid essay to fetch you a spot in a good college. Colleges have become extremely way about the authenticity of these application essays. Many students submit essays written by siblings, parents, ghostwriters or school counselors. If some essays are too good to be true, they will surely raise some eyebrows.
There’s another reason why essays have shrunk in terms of importance. Application essays often give away a student’s race, gender or ethnicity. Public universities have been giving lesser importance to the essays because it may create a bias during the admissions process.
2. A high SAT score isn’t going to help much
SAT has been considered the go-to benchmark for understanding a student’s capacity to handle college level studies. There are millions of students who appear for entrance exams like ACT and SAT for college admissions. It has been proven that wealthier students have a higher SAT score in general because they have access to the expensive test prep programs. This undeniable fact has created a divide in the education system between the students who can afford the prep classes and those who can’t. This has led to over 25% of the colleges that offer 4 year programs to make SAT optional for their admission processes. Another issue that has been raised is that SAT scores don’t necessarily predict a student’s college performance. Between the years 2003 and 2010 over 30% college students had not appeared for SAT and there was no noticeable difference in the graduation rates or the GPAs of those who appeared for SAT and those who didn’t.
3. Do NOT obsess over your class ranking
In 1993 over 40% of colleges considered class ranks to be important and the number declined to 20% by the year 2006. Being the best student among a 100 does not ensure a student is prepared for college-level It doesn’t matter if you are ranked 1st or 40th – college life requires hard work and perseverance, if you can work hard for your degree you will get it! Colleges are focusing more on entrance essays, recommendations and the interviews over the class ranks.
4. Being nice to your teachers helps
High GPAs and test scores are not the only things considered by colleges when selecting candidates. Recommendations of your high-school teachers and counselors are more important than you can imagine. Recommendations mostly focus on how much a student is curious about learning and his contributions to class discussions. If you want to get a good letter of recommendation, you should be very active in school and treat your teachers well. When you submit recommendation letters ensure that it includes feedback about your responsiveness to setbacks and your teamwork.
5. Opportunities are limited
Most US colleges offer seats to less than a third of all their applications. Top-ranked colleges restrict their admissions as much as possible to improve their scores in college rankings. Many colleges focus more on maintaining the highest standards of quality over filling up their seats. It is not necessary that a college that has an intake capacity of 100 students will admit students to their maximum capacity. Many colleges are also focusing on cultural values and want to create a balance of all kinds of cultures among the students. These factors make it difficult to ascertain if one can get into a college despite having great scores throughout his academics.
Recently, some colleges have started admitting students simply because they have unique talents. There have been instances when students who have achieved a lot in sports and other non-educational fields have been admitted despite having low grades and test scores. Sometimes college admissions can feel like a lottery, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
6. Politics is a determinant
Politics has a major hand to play in your admission process. The issue of race and ethnicity’s role in admissions is very polarizing. According to NACAC, over 30% universities consider the race and ethnicity of a student during the admission process. This is being remedied, and many states have enforced bans on racial preferences during admissions for state universities. Another practice that bends the rules without breaking the law is ‘Legacy’ admissions. Children of alumni and other donors are given preferences in the admission process across various universities, which blocks the opportunities for bright and meritorious students. It is one of the issues that has been under constant debate, and until proper educational reforms are prepared, it seems the problem will linger.
7. Money matters
One of the reasons many colleges prefer foreign students is because they pay the full price of the tuition. There are many institutions that offer subsidized tuition fees for state residents, and it is seen that the tuition fees for foreign students are at least three times more than an out-of-state foreign student on an average. This has led to universities looking out of out-of-state students because they are more profitable and generate more revenue for the institution. Many legislators have fought over this, but the issue has not yet been remedied.
8. The college needs you more than you need them
There has been a steady growth in the number of high schools graduates over the last 15 years and the number is expected to stabilize until the year 2020 before it rises again. It means that colleges will be chasing after fewer students leading to more competition among the colleges than the students themselves. Many people have the misconception that getting into college is hard, in fact, it’s the exact opposite. Colleges scramble to find students for admissions every single year! This opens up opportunities for students who are academically strong and can perform well at the highest level. Such students are highly sought after by colleges, and it allows the students to negotiate things like fees and other needs.
9. Your admission isn’t permanent
Just because you’ve received an initial offer letter from your dream college, it doesn’t mean that you are here to stay. In the year 2009, 22% of all colleges had revoked at least one offer letter from students. Many colleges cite reasons like disciplinary issues and falsification of information. The biggest reason for admission withdrawal is senioritis-impacted final grades. Not only do your marks matter but also your behavior and your interactions on social media. There have been instances where offer letters were revoked due to students harassing their school teachers and sending hateful messages. Students need to be very careful about their activities and ensure their applications contain genuine information only.
10. The story behind your grades
There are more than 2 million high school graduates who go to college each year and the application processes in colleges is nothing less than a huge ruckus with so much uncertainty and pressure surrounding the students and too much chaos to deal with. After the interviews and examinations are over students are either greeted with a nicely packaged admission offer letter or a letter that dashes their dreams. Many students think that the grade point average is alpha and the omega in college admissions, but they couldn’t be more wrong. According to the NACAC, all grades are not treated equally. An ‘A’ grade from a particular school may be worth less than a ‘B’ from another during the admission process. Many colleges put too much stress on grades over weights during the admission process. This is all because of grade inflation. Experts have found out that there has been a steady increase in the average GPA over the years even though SAT scores have remained the same. One of the biggest drawbacks of the grade system is that grades matter too much during college admissions and many colleges like to believe that a good GPA in school will lead to a good GPA in college as well.
These are some of the things that colleges will not tell you when you approach them for counseling. Getting admission into your dream college requires a lot of hard work and it is not as easy as it sounds. These days, you not only need to focus on your academic performance and grades but also need to be extremely focused on your soft skills and behavior to ensure you get good letters of recommendation and your admission offer is not revoked at the last minute. The humdrum of college admissions can take a toll on you but you need to stay focused on your dreams, and you will surely get into one of the colleges you want!
As a founder of targetadmission.com, Paresh likes helping out the students with their college admissions. For more helpful articles, check out targetadmission.com