Now that most of the deadlines have passed, the families of high school seniors, including ours, are anxiously awaiting the verdicts. This is my third time going through the process and I feel our family has been thrown a curveball each time.
When my daughter applied, we were complete newbies and had to navigate the process on our own. The only other person whose kid was applying to college at that time was Najla and almost every conversation that year was “Wait, what form?”
When my son applied in 2019, that was the year of the infamous Varsity Blues scandal, when hundreds of parents, coaches, proctors, and admissions officers were involved in a criminal conspiracy to influence undergraduate admissions decisions at several top American universities. That year, schools proved to be extra tough in the admissions process.
Two years later, my son is one of thousands of students who have spent nearly half of their high school experience online and once again, college admissions standards have changed dramatically. Here are four college admission myths that have been debunked since the pandemic started.
1- It’s hard to get into college.
Unless you’re applying to one of the elite IVY league schools, or a specific program (such as a combined medical / law program), it is not difficult to get into college. UCLA researchers conducted a survey of freshmen, who attend four-year public and private colleges, and found that 75% of freshmen get accepted into their first-choice school. The key, though, is doing the right research and applying to schools that are attainable.
2- Test scores are everything.
Close to 2,000 schools in the U.S. are no longer requiring standardized test scores. This year, there are some schools that my son applied to (for example, CSU) who stated that they were test-blind, meaning that even if you sent them SAT scores, they would not consider them as part of the application.
3- You must either accept or reject a college’s award package.
This one is really interesting. Schools use a software to determine the kind of financial package that incoming students are likely to accept. Private schools, for example, offer a pretty hefty package to freshman to lure them in, only to change the requirements of the package the following year. If you’re going to accept a package, get all of the details and even then, wait it out. Sometimes, the school will come back with an even better amount when they see you’re not interested.
4- The only way to afford college is through private scholarships.
At the start of the process, families look for schools that offer need-based aid or merit scholarships. Also, call the school and speak to someone in admissions. Usually, the person behind the phone is a bored college student who can give great advice on hidden scholarships that are available within the school.