The Myths Surrounding College Admissions

The Washington Post recently published an article about the top myths surrounding college admissions. You can read the article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/campus-overload/post/the-many-myths-about-college-admissions/2011/10/24/gIQA4pdOCM_blog.html#pagebreak.

Here are the top 14 myths according to the article:

1. It’s best to set your heart on one school and really go for it.
2. The tuition price listed in brochures is what everyone pays.
3. The admissions department adores you.
4. It’s best to crowd your application with a volume of extracurricular activities.
5. It’s better to have a high GPA than to take difficult classes.
6. Essays don’t really matter much in the end because grades and test scores are so dominant in admissions decisions.
7. Recommendations from famous people can give an applicant a huge boost.
8. There are only three accepted topics for your essay: The person you most admire, volunteer work in a third-world nation or a great insight about a current event.
9. As long as you run spell-check, there’s no need to proofread your essay. Plus, college officials don’t care about typos – and they love when you shorten words so your essay reads like a text message.
10. Admissions staffers are super impressed when you use big words, even if they aren’t used correctly.
11. If you don’t get accepted, it’s game over. You will never attend that institution.
12. There’s no need to visit campus because all colleges are the same.
13. All student loans are the same, so don’t read that fine print. You have four years to learn about interest rates and deferment, so don’t worry about it now.
14. Only apply for massive scholarships worth thousands. It’s a waste of time to apply for awards only worth a couple hundred bucks.

I couldn’t agree more that these are huge myths surrounding the college application process, but many of them also apply to scholarship applications. Especially numbers 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and of course 14. Here’s how these myths apply to the scholarship application:

1. You shouldn’t limit yourself. Apply for as many scholarships as you can, no matter what the reward amount or the school it is associated with. Just make sure you are applying for those that you QUALIFY for and at institutions you can realistically attend. If you need further convincing I won 5 scholarships totally over $100,000 that we all local scholarships 4 of the 5 that I won were smaller scholarships. Trust me they add up fast!

3. The scholarship committee doesn’t adore you. In fact, you need to use that application and all of its components to prove to them why they should especially the essay!

4. Yes, extracurricular activities are wonderful, but it isn’t impressive when you just pad your application with a bunch of activities that you don’t care about or really didn’t devote any time to. Participate in extracurricular activities that are relevant to the degree you want to pursue or that you are truly passionate about then work like crazy within those organizations. I would also like to add that you should look at all the benefits that the club has to offer. If you like accounting but the accounting club doesn’t offer a scholarship opportunity think of joining FBLA or DECA and getting elected to be the treasurer of the club.  Those activities are much more impressive and can mean money in your pocket.

5 and 6. Yes, grades are important. But, having perfect grades isn’t always realistic. You can still show your worth to the scholarship committee by writing an excellent essay, being involved in activities that matter, etc.

7. Only get recommendations from teachers, employers, etc. that are relevant to the application. Your P.E. Teacher is not the best person to write you a recommendation for a Creative Writing Scholarship.

8. Write the essay based on what they have asked of you you can still get creative and let your light shine but stay on topic! And if it is an open essay, be creative, and show them that you can think outside the box.

9. Proof Read always! And have others proofread your application again!

10. Only use big words if they are relevant and make sense.

11. Even if you don’t win the scholarship the first time, don’t give up! If you still meet the criteria to apply the next year – try again! I didn’t win the CTA (Classroom Teachers Association) scholarship my senior year of high school but I applied again my freshman year of college and won!

14. Look back at our answer to number one.

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