College Prep

Common College Admissions Myths

Standardized test bubble sheet with pencil

Universities only want A students. High SAT and ACT scores guarantee admission. Being creative with your essay is too big a risk. Not true. Not true. Not true. 

Having high grades is not a guarantee of college admission. As for standardized tests, they are only one part of the whole picture. And many schools are transitioning to test optional. Finally, your essay: this is the opportunity to tell your story in your own voice. It’s what sets you apart and lets your personality shine through. Injecting creativity and storytelling to your essay is always a part of a good game plan. 

Here are some of the most common admissions myths and the reason why you need not fear them:

  • Having lots of extracurriculars is good. 
    Quality over quantity is the better way to go. Admissions people are looking for participation in groups that give you valuable skills, like communication and leadership.
  • Rejection is a sure thing.
    A Pew Research study found that only 17 out of 1,364 colleges and universities turn away more than they accept. Don't fear; there are options for everyone!
  • Take easy classes to boost your GPA.
    Showing that you’re able to handle a rigorous course load and get decent grades shows that you succeed in high-pressure academics. Go for it!
  • In-person interviews are optional.
    An in-person interview will demonstrate your interest in attending a school. It’s a great way for teens interested in a college to stand out from the competition.
  • Legacy applicants carry more weight.
    This is a myth that’s evolving. Here is what one leading source has to say: “While there is a recent trend against considering legacy applicants, legacy consideration persists in many colleges. Moreover, even if a college stated they don’t consider legacy in the admission decision, this is always going to stand as a “background” consideration simply because the student’s motivation to attend is likely higher.”
    Don’t be put off by this. If you have a real passion to go to a certain university, and you have a strong application, you stand a good chance of being admitted, regardless of legacy.

How to put some muscle in your college application

Colleges and universities are looking for leadership skills. That doesn’t mean those who have the most extracurriculars or the best test scores. Rather, it’s a nuanced search for applicants who have shown their enthusiasm for learning. For instance, being able to add certificates of completion from university enrichment courses is a great way to stand out.

How college prep business classes can help

Strong business skills are invaluable across nearly all industries. For teens interested in building their business acumen, schools like Wake Forest University offer an online option which allows you to study anywhere, anytime at your own pace. With a focus on innovation and financial strategies, these college prep courses in business provide fundamental insights on business and investing.

For those teens who seek entrepreneurship college prep, the opportunities are broad and captivating. A couple of examples include Rice University’s Precollege Program with an online course for high school students in entrepreneurship and fintech. You’ll explore how entrepreneurs created the world of fintech, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies, and learn how they are disrupting traditional banking. 

Other schools with programs for teens interested in business include:

  • Georgetown University with entrepreneurship college prep, cybersecurity, and international law, this pre-college online program has something for everyone.
  • University of Rochester has an online pre-college course in video game design, for those who have a passion for the world of design and digital gaming.
  • William & Mary offers an online pre-college course in venture capital investing, ideal for teens interested in business with a focus on raising capital for innovators.
  • Columbia Business School’s Enrichment Program delivers on many fronts: the business of luxury, sports, tv and film, and hospitality. 

How to make your college application competitive

According to experts in the field, here are 8 pointers for making your application truly stand out.

  1. Take courses in high school that align with a future major. For instance, if you’re applying for pre-med or STEM, you’ll want to consider taking biology, advanced science such as physics, and mathematics.
  2. Earn good grades. This shows that you have developed strong study habits. Straight A’s are unnecessary, but showing that you are a reader with the ability to turn in good work and maintain that ethic throughout high school is what counts.
  3. Make your essay a personal story. Share your challenges, good and bad. Remember: when you make yourself the hero, it can be off-putting. How you manage difficult experiences can show both humility and strength.
  4. Extracurriculars matter. Participating in clubs or sports, for instance, add strength to your application. Those that include college prep summer or online programs demonstrate strengths: such as creativity, innovation, leadership skills, and commitment to bettering your education.
  5. Volunteering is a highly respected activity. But, be able to show that your service aligns with a future you may be interested in, such as hospital volunteering for teens interested in medicine, or an internship at a bank if finance is your thing.
  6. Keep a tight hold on your social media presence. Don’t let anyone tell you that college admissions people aren’t interested…they are. Avoid political or vulgar content. Keep your posts focused on extracurricular activities like volunteering, for example.
  7. Have a strong portfolio. This is a must for students interested in the arts or fashion. But even if you seek a major in entrepreneurship or STEM, you have graded work that can showcase your talent and commitment.
  8. Have letters of recommendation and certificates of completion. Recommendation letters can come from teachers, those you’ve done volunteer work for, or mentors you’ve encountered in college prep summer camps and online high school enrichment courses.

One final thought on your journey to the college of your choice

Those teens who make a continued commitment to pre-college enrichment often save themselves the challenge of switching majors—as well as the costs involved. If you’ve participated in high school enrichment courses, you’ll find that you’re ahead of the pack. And your application will reflect that effort. Good luck!

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