For many students, the college search comes way too fast. For others, it doesn’t come fast enough. And for still more, it sneaks up on them, finding them unprepared and unsure what the future should hold for them.
So many myths surround the college search process. Among them are inaccurate beliefs about financial aid, choosing a major, picking a college or university and the role test scores play in the college selection process. Here are a few realities that you can share with your students regarding the most common myths.
Myth: I can’t go to that school because I dont have the grades or essay scores.
Your high school grades are important. They say a lot about the importance of education in your life. However, they don’t tell everything. Test scores are the same way. Because some students are better essay takers, they might master the standardized test without actually knowing the material. Colleges and universities consider a wide range of things when deciding to admit a student. There are grades, test scores, essay writing ability, work experience, extracurricular activities and community involvement. They also look at the types of classes you took, leadership abilities, attending online colleges and personal character and ethics.f
Myth: My test scores are too low for me to get into the college of my choice.
A lot of students and parents place tremendous amounts of value on standardized test scores. While these test are certainly important, they are not the be all, end all of college admissions. Harvard University, one of the most prestigious and selective schools in the nation, does not have clearly defined, required minimum scores.
“We regard test results as a helpful indicator of academic ability and achievement when considered thoughtfully among many other factors.”
By simply preparing for standardized tests through test prep classes, most students are able to perform exceptionally well on the tests.
Myth: I will have to choose a public state school over my number one choice private school.
It is no secret that anything prefaced with the word “private” denotes money and prestige. Colleges and universities are no different. The average tuition price of a private four-year college is around $20,000 while it is closer to $4,000 at most public four-year universities. The price discrepancies are likely to deter families from even considering a private school. Yet, students who attend private schools sometimes pay less than students attending public schools. This is because financial programs at some private universities and colleges are designed to meet 100% of the student’s financial need. If a student is interested in a private school, the best thing to do is keep the school as a consideration, only omitting it after reviewing the financial aid award.
Myth: I have to find the perfect college in order to have a great experience.
The myth of perfection has complicated the college search for a number of students. They believe that if they don’t find the right combination of academics, athletics and social activities, they will have a horrible college experience. This is simply not true. It is a good idea to weigh your college choices based on the items you deem important in your idea school, like a state college search. What students should not do is scratch a school off the list if it’s only missing one important factor. If the first choice school has the right student enrollment, academic programs and financial aid package, it should not be excluded because there are no student publications, intramural sports. Those are things that the student could easily start on campus if it’s important to them.
Myth: I can’t apply for financial aid until after I get accepted.
The most selective schools only provide need-based financial aid so those who qualify for financial aid are at an advantage should they get accepted. No school actively rejects applicants who need to apply for financial aid.