5 Misconceptions About The College Admissions Process

Posted October 25, 2013 by

Myths and misinformation about the college admissions process seem to take on a life of their own. We’ve heard too many stories of both students and parents making decisions based on information from friends and relatives that doesn’t reflect actual admission practices and policies.

We’ve highlighted a few of the most common misconceptions so that you will recognize them when you hear them. Knowing fact from fiction will help ensure you don’t make a mistake that ends up hurting your chances for acceptance at the college of your dreams.

1. You shouldn’t take difficult classes that could hurt your GPA. — FALSE

Colleges want to see that you are challenging yourself, even if it means you don’t keep your perfect 4.0. You know what you’re capable of, so just make sure that your course load is appropriately challenging but not impossible.


Group of volunteers collecting clothing

Group of volunteers collecting clothing. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

2. You better have a super-human list of extracurricular activities and community service. — FALSE

In general, college admission officers are not looking for the applicants who are involved in the most activities. Instead, they want to know what causes you care about and how well you lead and work with others. Don’t overextend yourself by trying to be involved with every club—work hard for the ones that really matter to you.

3. Grades and test scores are what really influence admissions decisions, so you shouldn’t worry too much about applicant essays. — FALSE

Although grades and test scores certainly matter, a sloppy, poorly written essay can still land you in the reject pile. On the other hand, a well-written essay that displays your critical thinking skills could be what makes you stand out among applicants with similarly impressive grades and test scores.

Like extracurricular activities, admissions essays are an opportunity to let your personality and passions shine, so take advantage of it.


Smiling professor in class with college students

Smiling professor in class with college students. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

4. You want to get recommendations from teachers who have given you A’s. — FALSE

You want to make sure you get recommendations from teachers who know you best, whether it’s from inside or outside the classroom. These teachers can better speak to your strengths as not only a student but also a leader, a team member, and a thinker. If you’ve also done well in their classes, even better!

5. Admission officers would never check your Facebook page. — FALSE

Colleges often check an applicant’s Facebook page for the same reason anyone checks a Facebook page—in order to get a better sense of what that person is like.

Don’t be afraid to show your likes and interests, but as a general rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t want your parents to see it, leave it off.


By Katie McDonald, CMO and co-founder of PrepTalk


PrepTalk is a 2-way webcasting platform that connects college representatives with prospective students & parents.

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