5 Biggest Myths About College Admissions

This week’s School of Thought at TIME takes a look at the annual agonizing over college and the five biggest myths about acceptances, wait lists, affirmative action, future earnings, and transfers.

Now that acceptance and rejection letters have all been mailed, students and parents are taking stock of their lot. Some are happy, but a great many more probably feel disappointed. An enormous amount of energy and anxiety gets expended trying to get into college, but the truth is that the admissions process is much more haphazard than people like to think. The good news? In the long run it’s generally less important, too. Here are the five biggest myths about this annual angst-a-thon:

Read the entire column here.

6 Replies to “5 Biggest Myths About College Admissions”

  1. Like Roger Clegg (posting on the Time website), I disagree with Myth #3: Affirmative Action Rigs the Process. Rotherham blithely dismisses the weight of race in admissions decisions. However, every study I’ve seen on this issue (see books like The Bell Curve or Losing the Race) shows that race is the #1 factor in admissions decisions, after grades and test scores. Most elite schools admit black and hispanic students with much lower test scores/grades than their white and Asian students.

    In addition, these affirmative action policies aren’t aimed at helping ‘disadvantaged’ students, as many appear to believe: Most of the minorites attending elite schools are solidly middle class (if not upper middle class). Where is Rotherham getting his data?

  2. I would like to see some talk on the role of Facebook on the admissions process. I know lots of high school students who are worried to sick about admissions teams finding out that they are…you know…teens…

  3. Colleges look at financial aid backwards, its not the amount of aid they give you its the revenue you produce. for instance if the total cost is $50,000 and you can’t afford more than $30,000 so you don’t go and they have an empty space they didn’t save $20,000 in aid they lost $30,000 in revenue.

    While the average direct costs per student are about half the sticker price at most colleges the extra direct costs of the last student is very close to zero.

    Hold your head up high, no matter how much aid your getting your making a positive financial contribution!

  4. Another Myth to add to the list….that students cannot increase the likelihood of their being admitted to a college that they love. The reciprocal “fit” between the student and the college needs to be shown in the application. We can help.

  5. While I agree with Myth #5, no one is stuck in a school for four years without an option to “lateral”. We do it in business all the time. Sometimes we make a decision without all of the relevant information. They say you change jobs at least 7 times in a career. That being said, I believe that high school students can make that decision with the best information available if they take the time to talk to students on campus. It can’t just be reading a book or looking at the rankings. The more someone can get a feel for the culture and style of a campus (academically, socially, politically), the better the ability to find a fit. If you find that right fit, right out of the gate (when you are in high school), then you are even more likely to graduate from the school at which you started – and, of course, you don’t risk losing credits or taking longer to graduate.

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