Let’s face it: Applying for college is tough. Between choosing a school, writing essays, going on college tours and filling out applications, it’s no wonder high school students face major anxiety about their senior year and the college selection process. With so many rumors and myths going around about the college admissions methods, Potential enlisted the help of an admissions officer from the University of Georgia to help us set the record straight.
1. Universities admit a quota of students per year from your county, zip code, state or school.
There is no set number of students permitted to a university based on these, or any other, characteristics. Acceptance varies depending on the pool of applicants for that specific year, admitting the most competitive applicants. Think of it in terms of the NFL draft—a team isn’t going to turn away the nation’s top players just because there are others from the same school already on the team.
2. There are minimum test scores and GPA requirements for admission.
ACT, SAT and GPA requirements vary from school to school. When trying to gauge your student’s chance of acceptance, compare his or her qualifications to the previous year’s class. Reason being that while most universities have minimum requirements, the applicant pool may exceed these set requirements. The University of Georgia, for instance, hasn’t used a minimum GPA or test score in over 15 years.
3. ACT/SAT scores are the most important factor for admission.
Standardized test scores have become more important at some universities according to sources such as U.S. News & World Report and Forbes. Because the application process has become easier, students are applying to more schools, which means standardized test scores become a fast, easy way to narrow down the applicant pool. With over-inflated high school class grading (when was the last time that the majority of the AP class made a “C”?), the standardized tests levels the playing field. However, the best way to know where a school places emphasis is to ask the particular school’s admissions office. There are some schools that do not use standardized tests – Wake Forest, Faulkner University – so definitely ask!
4. It’s easier or harder to get admitted Early Action than Regular Decision.
First it’s important to understand each decision plan and its requirements. Early Action applicants submit standardized test scores along with grades and curriculum earned through the end of their junior year. Regular Decision includes the same criteria, but also accounts for extracurricular activities, leadership, community involvement and other non-academic criteria. If a student is deferred Early Action, his or her application is put back into the pool to be considered for Regular Decision. Because all admissions offices have different processes, it’s important to choose whichever plan will highlight your student’s most noteworthy assets and accomplishments. Again, ask your admissions counselor – they will be able to help you make the best decision.
5. My entire family graduated from the university, so my legacy status will help me get admitted.
U.S. News & World Report’s recent report on the role of legacy status in the college admission process found that legacy status does in fact provide an advantage in the process of the more competitive universities, and one college that does take legacy status into consideration is Auburn University. However, it does not make up for poor academics. After studying 30 highly selective colleges, a Harvard researcher found that when all other admissions factors are taken into account, legacy applicants have a 23.3 percentage point boost in the likelihood they will be admitted. The study also observed that the lower students’ test scores were, the less their legacy status helped in the admissions process.
To see the full list of urban myths that Potential Magazine debunked with the help of UGA admission counselors, visit our website! As always, check us out on Facebook and Twitter, and tell us your tips, secrets and advice on applying for colleges and preparing juniors and seniors for the next step in their education!