Nine Popular Myths of College Admissions



When it comes to college admissions, there are many myths about the process. The expert college advisors at International College Counselors are here to sort fact from fiction.

Myth #1: Colleges want the well-rounded kid.

Truth: When colleges look at a student’s application, they want to see passionate, focused individuals who have excelled in one or two areas of genuine interest. Students need to demonstrate achievement and leadership in their areas. Schools want WELL-ROUNDED CLASSES with a few students who will star in each of their majors, in addition to skilled musicians, athletes, and more.


Myth #2: Asking for financial aid hurts the probability of admission.

Truth: This is only sometimes true. Need-blind colleges do not factor in a student’s ability to pay when it comes to their admissions decisions, so asking for financial aid doesn’t make a difference. Approximately 100 colleges are need-blind. At other schools, asking for financial aid can impact an admission decision. Call the admissions office to find out which policy the school abides by.


Myth # 3: Making too much money disqualifies families from getting aid.

Truth: There is no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. Even high-earners can qualify for some type of financial aid, including low-interest federal student loans. Many factors besides income are taken into account. Most people who apply actually tap into the available money. But you have to fill out the FAFSA form and you should fill it out early.


Myth #4: Essays don’t count.

Truth: The essay is a chance for a student to set themselves apart.  Other applicants will have similar scores and grades but schools want to see what makes a student different. The essay is a chance to do this.  Don’t waste the opportunity!


Myth #5: SAT and ACT scores are the most important factor in admissions.

Truth: According to a survey by the National Association For College Admission Counseling (NACAC), 81% of colleges rated grades in all courses as considerably important while 52% of colleges rated admission test scores as considerably important. It’s important for students to take advantage of the curriculum offered in their high school and do well in their classes.


Myth #6: Demonstrating interest in a college doesn’t matter

Truth: Many schools track a student’s display of interest, curiosity and enthusiasm. Failure to demonstrate interest sends a message to the college that you’re not really that interested in the school. Colleges absolutely prefer students who demonstrate interest over those who don’t. Ways to demonstrate interest include attending an information session, touring the college campus, meeting with an admissions officer on- or off-campus, attending a webinar, participating in an alumni interview, reaching out to an admissions officer, opening the school’s emails, and applying early.


Myth #7: Early decision doesn’t make much of a difference, even for legacy applicants.

Truth: Early decision (ED) can increase a student’s chances of admission. If admitted under ED, applicants must enroll at that school and withdraw any applications that were submitted to other colleges. Applicants can only apply ED to one school, but it can be a powerful tool for admission. Ask your advisor at International College Counselors if this is the right decision for your student.


Myth #8: Admission officers are never going to check my social media.

Truth: College admission officers may look at your social media – Facebook, Instagram, whatnot – and they may not. Don’t risk it.  Post only appropriate content. There have also been stories about frenemies cluing admissions officers into inappropriate content, effectively sabotaging their rivals seeking to attend the same college.


Myth #9: Better ranked means better school.

Truth: What makes one college better than another is absolutely subjective. With thousands of colleges in the U.S. alone, the better – and best — school for a student is the one that fits them best. Factors which can make one school better than another include whether it offers the student’s desired major, the size, environment, price, location, and extracurriculars.


For more truths about colleges, college admissions, college applications and more, counselors at International College Counselors can help you and your student. Email your International College Counselors advisor or call 954-414-9986.