Top Ten College Admissions Myths – Exposed

There are several college admissions myths which should be exposed before you apply. These myths often scare certain students from applying to the best schools. Never limit yourself from applying to top colleges because you believe these things:

(10) Applicants are pre-screened.

Whether using the common application or a school-specific application, college admission offices have enough staff members to read your entire application. After all, you pay an application fee for a reason and colleges want to make sure you get your fair chance. However, if your application is incomplete or missing crucial components (essays, transcripts, or supplements) this might explain why it is rejected, or pre-screened out, before it reaches the full committee.

(9) You must choose your major and stick to it.

When you apply to college, admissions officers know your major is bound to change. In fact, many admissions offices have reported that the majority of their students change their major by the end of their freshman year. Don’t worry about choosing your major. Pick a department or major where you have a genuine interest, and be open-minded to changing it once you’re enrolled.

(8) You must apply early decision or early action.

Yes, applying early decision or early action shows a student is committed to a particular college. But you do not have to apply early to be accepted, even to top colleges. In fact, if you’re deferred in the early decision or early application round, your application goes right back into the regular pool and will be re-evaluated again.

(7) Colleges have a certain profile of the “perfect” student.

While colleges strive to admit students who will fit into their college, there’s simply no way for a college to predict whether a student will be happy or whether they will actually succeed at their college. This is why colleges don’t set a particular admissions profile for the “perfect” student.

(6) Ivy League schools don’t give scholarships.

Although Ivy League schools say they only allocate “need-based” scholarships, there’s no doubt that certain schools issue other grants and fellowships based on other criteria. If you’re a top athlete, recruit or a national merit scholar, an Ivy League school will go out of its way to make sure you can afford their school.

(5) International students don’t receive scholarships or loans.

More colleges are looking to diversify their student body with international students; major banks and financial institutions offer the same financial opportunities for international students as they do American applicants. Scholarships and fellowships are available for international students.

(4) You should pad your resume with extracurricular activities.

Every admissions officer is a human being. Imagine that. Applications aren’t accepted or rejected by a computer. So when filling out this section of the common app, know that admissions offices can (and do) spot superfluous extracurricular activities. Further, they can certainly tell whether you added an extracurricular because you have a genuine interest or because it “looks good” on your resume.

(3) Recommendations don’t matter.

Great recommendations are vital. You cannot expect to be admitted simply with high scores and great grades. If an admissions officer sees a perfunctory or suspicious recommendation, it will set off a red flag. Bottom line: choose the recommender who knows you best and make sure they know where you’re applying and what your qualifications are.

(2) There’s a GPA Cut-Off.

Colleges generally don’t have a GPA cut-off. The reason admissions offices don’t have a GPA “cut-off” is because students come from all sorts of different high schools with varying curriculums and grade structures. Some students attend public schools, others private schools where the GPA ranges could be wider or narrower. Further, there has been much discussion about grade inflation, and colleges do know what particular high schools tend to have higher GPAs than others. Whether this is so-called grade inflation or not, the schools have an idea of what schools have a more competitive curriculum, including more AP, IB and honors courses. Be aware of your GPA and explain discrepancies in your transcript.

(1) There’s always an SAT/ACT Cut-Off.

Some state colleges do have a cut-off for SAT/ACT scores. But the majority of American Universities do not. So keep working on your test scores but don’t fear the mythical cut-off.

If your SAT scores or ACT scores aren’t as high as you’d like them to be, you can improve your score with test prep and admissions counseling.

Hope these admissions myths were answered.

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College Visit – Caution

Here are the 4 key objectives of a first college visit; this assumes you will be impressed with the results of your visit, which will require a second visit with a different strategy.

1. Show up unannounced. You want to witness first-hand how flexible and accommodating admission people can be so that your gut instincts will help determine your first impressions. It’ll also tell you how hard the college works on making first good impressions.

2. Ask for the name of the admissions person who handles your geographical area. This is your contact person for future email contacts. Try to meet that person, introduce yourself, and get a business card. It would be wicked cool to trade business cards, so I would get one created with only your name, address, email address, and phone number.

If the college doesn’t assign admissions people on a geographical basis, ask for a business card from one of them and make that person your contact.

3. Ask about the school’s retention rate: “What percentage of freshmen return after the freshman year?” When you get home, look on the school’s website to see if the figure matches what you heard. If the answer is a high retention rate, you want to ask a follow-up question: “Is it because of a proactive college policy to recruit a diverse student body that includes non-A students, or does the school focus on the A students who almost always account for a high retention rate?”

These 2 questions will give you a sense of the school’s orientation or philosophy of recruitment. If you’re not comfortable with the answer, move on to another campus.

4. Ask the killer question that will be most difficult to answer, and as a parent you have a moral obligation to ask it. If the school is going to ask you to spend thousands of dollars, you want to demand an answer to this question: “Because campus safety is in the news all the time, how and when can I get access to the campus police’s records of crime on this campus for the past 12 months?”

This could be a real curve ball question, but you don’t care. Listen carefully to how your question is answered. If the answer sounds too practiced or too routine, such as, “Any incidents or crimes on campus are public record. You can call the local police to get that information.” If you hear this answer, you’re being lied to. The local police do not record all the campus’s incidents because the college wants to keep any real crimes quiet if they can. The most convenient reason to have a campus police force is to hide any potential public relations or image problems that could damage the school’s effort to recruit if disclosure of all crimes is made.

Uncomfortable Fact: Colleges are a business, and image is everything.

Student tour directors are programmed to tell you what you want to hear. Which is why I detest planned tours. You get far better information from students sitting at a dining hall table. But if you take a tour with a young and enthusiastic robotic tour guide, you need to ask questions they don’t hear; however, do not be surprised to hear other parents ask these 3 mind-boggling questions:

1. How’s the food here?

2. What are laundry facilities like?

3. Do students get enough sleep?

Colleges witness parents asking what they view as really dumb questions. These are the equivalent of asking, “Do you have running water?”

If you’re touring a college that requires $40,000 a year, you need to ask tough questions. If you don’t get the satisfactory answers WITH FOLLOW-UP research, perhaps another college will be glad to help you.

Comfortable Fact: There are over 4,000 colleges and universities out there, and you are in the driver’s seat to choose, not the colleges. They know it, but they won’t tell you that they know it.

It’s a game – a game you can win.

The Freshman’s Guide to the Social Scene at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA

First of all, I would like to point out that I do not condone underage drinking in any form as stated by federal law due to the proven health risks associated with this practice.

Two years ago, as an incoming high school senior ready to start applying to colleges, I sat down and thought to myself what exactly I want out of my four years of college. Number one on my list was a school that would provide me with a strong academic background to prepare me for medical school. Like many incoming college students, I wanted to find that oh so difficult to attain balance between work and play. Although work is a necessity to succeeding in life I wanted to find a school where I could have an equally strong social background. Needless to say, Brandeis was not near the top of my list.

During the application process, I would often look for forums describing the Brandeis social life only to be disappointed when the results were obtained. Brandeis is not known for its social scene, as fraternities are not funded directly by the school, like other big name universities in the Boston-area. I’m looking at you MIT. Then I saw comments that pointed me toward the notion that the Brandeis social scene was what you make of it. I found this odd, but if it takes a little drive on my part to have fun then there’s nothing that’s gonna stop me. I later applied to Brandeis and was accepted only to find that I controlled my destiny. If I’m in college for only four years then I better make the best of it.

Brandeis parties can be categorized into four different groups: frat parties, athletic team parties, miscellaneous group parties and private gatherings.

The fraternities at Brandeis include, Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT), Alpha Eta Pi (AEPi), Phi Kappa Psi (Phi Psi), Alpha Delta Phi (ADPhi) and Sigma Alpha Mu (Sammies). As far as parties go, Iwould rand ZBT the highest because they always have great music, a crowded dance floor, and plenty of beverages to go around. Also, another cool thing about the house is that there parties always include black lights and occasionally they throw white-out parties where everyone wheres white under the black lights. AEPi parties on the other hand, sometimes lack the active environment and instead provide a house to be drunk and merry in a relatively relaxed setting.

Phi Psi hasn’t had many notable parties over my freshman year, but they are looking to branch out over the next year. ADPhi has the same status as Phi Psi, party-wise, but we’ll know soon enough about their ability to compete with other frats. And as for Sammies, they are a fairly new fraternity, two years old I believe. Sammies is constructing a house over the summer with a bar so we should see great things from them. The best way to learn about parties is to have friends in the frats or at least in-the-know, but not necessarily be in one yourself. Frats are a great way to meet people, make lifelong friends and be invited to private parties with the sororities on campus, Delta Phi Eta (DPhiE) and Sigma Delta Tau (SDT).

The athletic team parties are a fun way to meet Brandeis athletes depending on what you’re looking for. These houses usually throw the pregaming events and random costume parties including Halloween, which are always huge.

The miscellaneous parties include those thrown by student groups (not affiliated with fraternities or sports teams). These include the random parties thrown in the Rosenthal sophomore quad that aren’t huge, but worth stopping off at before the bigger party of the night. The Purim party is also huge every year and thrown by the Jewish student life on campus. One of the most surprising organization to throw parties is the group of students that call themselves Flavor Country. These parties tend to be the biggest and best on campus. But you need to be tight with the guys who run these gatherings because there usually is an invitation only list for guys.

One of the best ways to have fun on campus is to definitely form a group of friends and make plans to get together and have your own parties. These are usually thrown in a suite or in some cases freshman dorms (Ahem!). Everyone is so busy during the week with schoolwork and extracurriculars that the only time to connect with your friends is during the weekends. So these private parties are a large part of the Brandeis party scene.

Whatever social path you do decide to take while at Brandeis, remember one thing: you’re only in college for four years. They will go by much faster than you can even imagine. It’s your job to not only craft the foundation of your future, but to also enjoy life as much as possible while you have the time to do so.

Antwaan Randle El Played College Basketball, Baseball, & Football For Indiana University Hoosiers

Antwaan Randle El is a unique football player because of the fact that despite being an exceptional quarterback at Indiana University he went on to be a very effective NFL player at the position of wide receiver. It is rare for an athlete to be gifted enough to play multiple positions at such a high level. Being able to excel at multiple positions on the football field is indicative of an athlete that is capable of excelling at multiple sports.

A little known fact about Randle El is that in addition to his impact on the football field he found time to contribute to other athletic programs while in school at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. While in college the high profile athlete also played on the basketball team for a season under legendary head coach Bobby Knight (1998-1999 season) and even played varsity baseball for the 2000 season.

Randle El was born in August of 1979 and demonstrated his impressive athletic ability at a very young age. Growing up in a predominately African American area (80%) of the south side of Chicago Randle El was a standout three sport star for Thornton Township High School in Harvey, Illinois despite his relatively small size that peaked at 5’10” and 190 pounds. While at Thornton Township the future professional football player dominated opponents on the gridiron, hardwood, and baseball diamond. The eventual star quarterback for the Indiana Hoosiers once set an Illinois high school state record by scoring 69 points in a basketball game and was also drafted by the Chicago Cubs out of high school.

As a football player for the Indiana University Hoosiers Randle El was deemed one of the top offensive players in the gritty Big Ten Conference. Despite being undersized for a Division I quarterback in the Big Ten Randle El masterfully combined passing and running efficiency to help make Indiana one of the top offensive squads in the country. While quarterbacks with the ability to run the ball have been historically present in the game of college football few ever combined the running and passing aspects of the position as Randle El who would become the first player in college football history to rush for 40 touchdowns and to throw for 40 touchdowns.

While in Bloomington, Indiana the star player broke numerous team and NCAA records while on his way to eventually being named a first team All-American quarterback and the Big Ten Player of the Year after his senior season. During his four solid years of playing quarterback at Indiana University Antwaan Randle El did what no other player had ever done by putting up 2,500 yards of offense for four consecutive years.

Since leaving college in 2002 Randle El has been a valuable player for both the Pittsburgh Steelers (where he won a Super Bowl) and for the Washington Redskins. To utilize his athleticism in addition to normal receiving duties Antwaan is often called upon to return kicks and participate in trick plays where he is able to show off his passing skills from the wide receiver position.