Busted Myths: What Admissions Officers Really Look For

admissions officers

No one likes to waste time. Despite what it feels like, admissions officers don’t want you to do excessive work on details that don’t matter, or to ignore the ones that do. There are plenty of myths about how to get into college.

Some of those theories have been “busted” over and over again like, “your SAT/ACT scores are all that matters,” or “you can only apply to colleges during your senior year.” Hopefully you know that everyday myths like those ones are not 100% true, but chances are there are several myths you do believe because they aren’t frequently addressed.

I’ve compiled five resources, and each one contains their own lists of college admissions myths. So that you don’t have to read through each one, I highlighted the two most uncommon myths from each article that most people believe to be true.

College Admissions Myths

  1. The Top 10 Myths of College Admission
    • Myth Busted – “It is a seller’s market.”
    • Truth – According to this article, “only about 65 colleges nationwide reject more applicants than they accept.” You won’t be able to force two elite schools to fight over you. However, most colleges need you just as much as you need them.
    • Myth Busted – “Early decision is only for legacies and kids who are absolutely sure where they want to attend.”
    • Truth – Applying via “early decision” strongly increases your odds of getting accepted no matter who you are. You are legally obligated to attend that school once you have been accepted. Nevertheless, you can always transfer out should you change your mind.
  2. 6 College Admissions Myths: Busted
    • Myth Busted – “My social media activities aren’t being monitored by admissions officers.”
    • Truth – Any information about you that is available to the public should be as professional as possible. Admissions officers are even more likely to look at your social media profiles if you are also applying for a school’s scholarship.
    • Myth Busted – “All I have to do is complete and submit an application.”
    • Truth – There’s an old saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” In this setting, it means that the more you contact the college with questions and campus visits, the easier it will be for them to remember who you are when they come across your application. Colleges and universities notice and appreciate students who go the extra mile.
  3. What Are Some Common College Admissions Myths?
    • Myth Busted – “You want to get recommendations from teachers who have given you A’s.”
    • Truth – It’s great if you did well in that teacher’s class, but it is also important that they know who you are beyond your letter-grade.
    • Myth Busted – “We only accept a certain number of students from each high school.”
    • Truth – No, this is not true. Colleges and universities want students with different interests and backgrounds. Just because you went to the same school as someone else, doesn’t mean that you are at all similar to them.
  4. 7 College Admission Myths that you Shouldn’t Fall For
    • Myth Busted – “There’s only one perfect school for me.”
    • Truth – You can have a favorite college, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only “perfect” one. Realize that the school you go to will not destroy or define the rest of your life. Just be sure to widen your options by applying to several schools with accredited degree programs in your intended major.
    • Myth Busted – “Name-dropping helps.”
    • Truth – For letters of recommendation, essays, and interviews, don’t name drop for the sake of name-dropping. Admissions counselors only want to hear from people who know what you are capable of academically and otherwise.
  5. 8 College Admissions Myths (and what it really takes to get in)
    • Myth Busted – “My high school doesn’t rank students, so colleges won’t know where I stand.”
    • Truth – Most high schools who don’t rank their students use a “GPA distribution” to determine where students stand. To find out where you stand you can follow what this article advises, “students should ask his guidance counselor for a copy of the official high school profile that has all the information colleges are privy to. It’s a public document that students are entitled to see.”
    • Myth Busted – “Attending a private high school improves my odds of getting into a good college.”
    • Truth – No, the type of high school you go to does not greatly influence admissions, but what you do at that high school does.

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Myth busting mission complete! Now you can stop wasting time with the admissions process, and focus on what will actually help you get accepted into college.

About the Author Scott Hawksworth

Scott Hawksworth is YesCollege.com's founder and podcast host. His goal with the show is to not only help prospective students gain first hand knowledge about the degree programs they'll enroll in, but to also highlight the careers of fantastic professionals in higher ed. Scott has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from The Ohio State University.