Applying to colleges can be tricky, but if you make sure that you fully understand the process, things will go more smoothly. Many students believe the following “facts,” but doing these things will lead you down the wrong path. Here are some college application myths you should know about.
1. When applying early, there’s no real difference between early action and early decision.
Early action and early decision applications have similar deadlines, but they are very different. Early decision is binding, so if you are accepted, you must attend that school. This option can boost your application, but it’s only a good idea if you’re absolutely sure that’s where you want to go. If you’re still undecided, or if you’ll need to compare financial aid packages, early action is the way to go. Click here to learn more.
2. Standardized test scores (SAT, ACT, etc.) don’t really matter.
While it’s true that there’s a lot more to your application than your test scores, you should not underestimate their importance. Each school will look at your scores differently, however. Larger universities with more applicants use the tests to measure applications across the board, while many small liberal arts schools don’t even look at SAT scores. Most schools fall somewhere in between, looking at all parts of your application equally.
3. Don’t visit until you’ve been accepted.
Schools keep track of which applicants have already toured the campus. Visiting the school well ahead of time shows that you are a more serious applicant. Make sure you take advantage of the opportunities available here–don’t just take the tour! Most universities will set you up to audit a class and spend the night, and that’s what will really give you a feel for the school. Click here for more tips on making the most of your visit.
4. Colleges are looking for well-rounded students with an endless list of clubs and activities.
Colleges are actually looking to form high-achieving and well-rounded classes as a whole. It’s better to not have as many activities and excel in one thing than to be involved in everything but not stand out. Make sure your application highlights what you do best!
5. Take the easiest courses in high school to maximize your GPA.
Your transcripts will show not only your GPA but also all of the classes you’ve taken. You will make a better impression with your application if you challenge yourself with Honors and Advanced Placement classes, but don’t go overboard. For example, if you’re not doing well in an AP course, don’t stick it out. Knowing your limits is also important.
6. Get a recommendation from the most impressive person you (or your parents) know.
The content of your recommendation letters is much more important than who wrote it. Teachers and employers are two great options for this, as they can write personal and heartfelt letters that will boost your application much more than would a generic letter written by someone you don’t really know. Click here for more tips on getting a great recommendation.
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