As your children begin to prepare for the next four years, you may find yourself looking for new and effective ways to keep them on track. And, as you may have already found, applying to college doesn’t begin or end with the application. There are many other critical factors that come into play, such as meeting academic requirements and going above and beyond to impress throughout the competitive admissions process.
While making a good impression is certainly at the top of the priority list, there are many myths and outdated notions of requirements that parents and their prospective students still follow when applying to college.
Separating fact from fiction in today’s requirements for college
Myth #1: There’s no real difference between early action and early decision.
Fact: Early decision is binding, early action is non-binding.
Essentially, if a student chooses to apply for early decision he or she has made a commitment to that college, meaning he or she must attend. Early action is non-binding, and students may apply to more than one early-action college. For those considering early decision, rejoice! You just may increase your chances of getting accepted. But at the same time, consider meeting with your child’s academic counselor to determine if this is the best route. Some students may benefit from waiting so they can continue to prove their academic readiness throughout the fall semester.
Myth #2: Standardized-test scores are not that important.
Fact: While many prospective students wish this were true, standardized test scores are still very important—especially for larger universities. However, many smaller colleges do not require applicants to submit their scores, as their officers are more interested in the applicant’s GPA, college essay and extracurricular activities.
Myth #3: If an interview isn’t required, don’t bother.
While it’s true that interviews are not always required by admissions, they provide prospective students with another opportunity to demonstrate their interests in the college and personally showcase their skills. Take the time to practice interviewing your child to prepare him or her for success. This is an extra step that is sure to pay off.
Myth #4 AP courses are critical.
Fact: While AP courses can certainly impress admissions officers, it’s not worth your child’s time if it’s not within his or her skill set. Officers generally focus on quality over quantity when it comes to grades and applications.
Myth #5: An impressive list of extracurricular activities is essential.
Fact: While extracurricular activities are a great way for prospective students to develop new skills, friendships and, of course, impress admissions officers with their dedication to an activity, a long list is definitely not required. In fact, these officers would prefer to see just a few activities that your child is truly passionate about than a list of activities and community-service projects that only lasted for short amount of time. As we said earlier in the post, quality comes before quantity.