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College 101

Biggest Myths
Article Type: Quick and Dirty

I Know This One Guy Who…The Legend of the Hyper-Creative Essay

Did you hear the one about the guy who got into Yale with his amazing essay? Maybe. But the legend is that the question asked what one thing he would save if his house were burning down. Apparently, he burned the edges of his paper, and wrote one word – “This”.

Ok, that was a pretty extreme example. But the idea is, don’t get cute with your essay. Don’t do it in verse, don’t videotape yourself singing your essay, and certainly save your Jokerman font for your niece’s birthday party invitation. The essay is certainly something you can be creative and have fun with, but remember that you still have to communicate (again, through words, not using a kazoo) something about who you are as a person that is going to make the college want to spend four years in your presence. Additionally, amazing essays must come in a package, with a good GPA, decent standardized test scores, and a demonstrated passion for something.

Rocking the SAT or ACT…The Test Score Myth

Did you manage to pull off a 2200 on the SAT? Or maybe a 32 on the ACT? Nice work. This certainly is attractive to schools. It shows you are pretty smart and…good at taking standardized tests. Now take a look at your transcript. Do your GPA and the rigor of your courses reflect that stellar test score? Or is your course list made up of shining stars such as Ceramics and Nutrition with a 2.0 average? The reality is that standardized tests are used in college admissions decisions as a benchmark to compare you to other students. But no score is going to make up for a transcript that unsubtly yells “I didn’t apply myself for four years” and shows a person that only stayed up all night cramming for their ACT or SATs.

The Myth That They Don’t Check…Second Semester Senior Year Doesn’t Matter

Believing this myth is truly dangerous. Like believing that lightning won’t strike the same place twice. It’s just asking for it. If you do believe this myth, and plan on acting accordingly, let us introduce you to a new word: rescind. Most schools require that you send in final high school transcripts.  If you are accepted to a school and end up bombing second semester, your offer to attend may be rescinded. And rescinded means taken back. In fact, some of the more prestigious schools will contact you to explain even a moderate drop in grades, so you’d better be prepared with a great excuse if you want to attend. Better yet, just don’t bomb second semester.

The Chosen Path…The Legend of the Career in Your Major and Applying as Undecided

Is your plan to decide on a major as a senior in high school and to retire from your career at 65, having had a storied and accomplished tenure? Good luck with that. The reality is that most high-school seniors don’t have the foggiest idea of what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Students change majors all the time. In fact, there’s a reason why liberal arts schools don’t require a declared major until junior year – people need time to figure out what they want to do. Heck, even declaring a major doesn’t guarantee you will work in that field. In fact, it almost guarantees you won’t. Only about ten percent of folks in the working world are actually employed in the area of their major.

Don’t be afraid to apply undecided for schools. Seriously, it doesn’t hurt your application.

Check out Choosing Your Major for more tips.

Does Applying Under an Obscure Major Really Increase Your Chances of Getting In?

Think applying as an Archaeology Major to a school with a small Archaeology Department will increase your chances of getting admitted? The reasoning behind this is that chances are, the school wants to build a more robust Archaeology Department and increase the number of students that get involved in the archaeology department, so they might look at your application in a different light than if you had applied under Pre-Med or Business.  However, if you don’t have an inkling of archaeology written on your application or have never even explored the field, colleges will know you’re trying to game the system. So we strongly advise that you apply under the major you have demonstrated an interest in in high school and showcase your passion that way.

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