Getting into A Top College: Myth vs. Reality
If you’re in your junior or senior year of high school, you are probably getting ready to apply to college, and chances are that you’ve been warned what the admissions process is like. However, it’s time to consider that your expectations may not match up with the reality of getting into a top college. Keep reading for information on what getting into a top college is really like.
Myth #1: I can’t get into a top college if I don’t ace the SAT.
The SAT test is the bane of every high school student’s academic life. It’s a famously difficult exam that requires hours of outside practice and preparation. If you’re relying on in-school practice SATs alone to get you ready, you must rethink your strategy for getting a top score.
But what if you took the SAT, maybe a couple of times, and still didn’t do well? Does that mean you won’t get accepted to college? Fortunately, no. While a good score on the SAT exam helps get into your school of choice, it isn’t the only factor schools look at. If you’ve got a low SAT score, but your GPA is high, and you’ve shown that you’re a well-rounded student, the school may see the SAT isn’t indicative of your actual academic abilities.
Myth #2: I should only apply to my school of choice.
While every student may have a university that is their top choice, it shouldn’t be your only choice. Most colleges are comparable in the quality of the educational experience they offer, and while it’s nice to attend the same school as your parents or siblings, that shouldn’t be your only criteria for applying.
Instead, do some research into which schools excel with the program or major you would like to join. You may also want to look at which schools suit your budget. Then, apply to several schools where you think you would be happy and successful. Essentially, don’t put all of your eggs into one academic basket—apply to several schools, so that if you don’t get into your top choice, at least you have a plan B (and C and D).
Myth #3: A high GPA is all I need to get into a top school.
There’s no denying that having a high GPA is a must for getting into a top college. Good grades show the school that you will be a good student while in college and are more likely to graduate. However, there is a difference in how you achieved that GPA that could affect whether you get into your top choice.
While college admissions look at your grades and GPA, they also look at where those grades come from. If you have a 4.0—a perfect GPA—but took “easy” classes or less-demanding electives, admissions may assume you take the easy way out or that you might be—gasp!—lazy. However, if you graduate high school with a slightly lower GPA of 3.3 but took AP French, college prep classes, and took part in more extracurricular activities, the school will see that you work hard, that you’re self-motivated, and that you get involved. These abilities are far more impressive than being “smart.” Universities are looking for well-rounded human beings that will do well in the world after graduation, not just good students who only do well in school settings.
The college admissions process can be difficult to navigate, and it is important to remember that not everything will go according to plan. Be better prepared for it by paying attention to the myths and realities of the situation we’ve laid out here. If you understand that everything may not go according to your expectations, you’ll be better equipped to manage whatever result you receive.