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College admission 2018 is just around the corner, and already countless applicants are feeling the pressure. But while navigating college admissions is tricky and difficult, it is not impossible. Debunking the myths of college admission is the first step towards having a clearer and more effective plan.

Myth: Advice for college admissions is useless

Some consider advice for college admissions as useless due to continuously changing trends and approaches to college admissions. However, seeking advice is actually wise. Like schools, those who guide applicants and write college admission articles keep up with the times, which makes them reliable sources of information.

Myth: Perfect standardized test scores ensure admission

Though SAT and ACT scores are important, they do not guarantee admission. More often than not, schools treat scores as a screening tool than a major deciding factor. That is, all scores that pass a given threshold are often treated as the same.

Myth: Straight A’s in regular classes get the job done

While Straight A students certainly have an edge over other applicants, colleges also look at the sources of those A’s. Applicants with excellent grades, such as mostly A’s and a couple of B’s (and no C’s or lower), from challenging classes such as honors or AP classes increase their chances of admission.

Myth: VIP recommendations boost your chances

Unless you personally know and worked with VIPs such as representatives or CEOs, securing that recommendation letter from a VIP is unadvisable. A sincere recommendation letter from a professor or community leader that offers genuine insight into your student profile is worth more.

Myth: Essays don’t count

Admissions essays are a perfect way to showcase your competencies, achievements, and character. Do not take this opportunity for granted. Instead, devote adequate time and energy into custom writing a dazzling essay that helps increase your college admissions chances.

Myth: The more extracurricular activities, the better

Hint: quality matters more than quantity. Having too many extracurricular activities may give the impression that you are spreading yourself too thinly, but a couple of activities you really engaged with suggest passion and commitment. Therefore, include only your best extracurricular activities for college admissions resumes and essays.

Myth: Social media are off-limits

You might think that those admission officers will not check your social media profiles. Incorrect! As competition for those slots get tighter, the content of those social media profiles is increasingly becoming a criterion for screening applicants. So keep those profiles tidy.

Myth: Applying for financial aid lowers your chances

While this myth is true in some cases, not all schools consider financial aid as a factor in making a decision. The key to getting around this? Inquire where your target colleges stand on the issue and do your own research.

Myth: Colleges want well-rounded applicants

Colleges focus more on building a well-rounded class than admitting well-rounded students. This means colleges want classes composed of students who excel in various fields. While being well-rounded yourself is not a problem, your chances are better if you can show that you excel in one or two fields on top of your broad interests.

Myth: Minority preference college admission is an advantage

This is one of those myths that are both true and untrue depending on the school. Though some colleges consider race in admissions, some don’t. So does being a minority help college admissions? Or does being Hispanic help college admissions? Or does being black help college admissions? The answer depends on the situation. That said, focusing on academic performance may be a better strategy.

Myth: Work ends with sending your application

This is just plain incorrect. Completing and sending your application documents is just part of the task. Equally important is preparing yourself for any other application activities such as interviews.

Myth: Interviews don’t matter

Many colleges have done away with conducting interviews. But if your target school offers an interview, make sure that you go for it. Interviews are conducted for a reason: they help admission officers know more about you and gauge your interest in getting that slot. So research on your school and prepare to impress in that interview.

Myth: Top schools are impossible to enter

This is certainly one of the biggest and most prevalent myths of college admission. While top schools such as Ivy League universities have the lowest acceptance rates, applicants everywhere should not discount the possibility of gaining admission. There’s one crucial thing, though: getting there requires you to start early, start right, and excel all throughout your journey.