All good colleges are selective!
Actually, no. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s (NACAC) 2014 State of College Admission Report, the average acceptance rate, which is the percentage of applicants who are admitted to any given college is 64.7 percent. That means that colleges admit approximately 2 in 3 students. That statistic does not equate to selectivity. Selective colleges with single-digit percentage acceptance rates are actually quite atypical. Students who are willing to consider colleges in a variety of locations and are not fixated on "name brand" have many options. Loren Pope's Colleges That Change Lives is a great resource for the "best colleges you've never heard of."
Private colleges cost way more than public universities!
Not necessarily! While the sticker price for a private college is significantly more than that of an in-state public college, it’s not quite that black and white. Many students do not pay the published price of tuition for private colleges. The expected family contribution (EFC) is the amount of money the university believes the family should be responsible for contributing to the student's college costs. If a family's EFC is $65,000 or more, that student will not receive any need based aid, since that amount is more than the cost of most colleges. But only a small percentage of students fall into that $65,000 or more EFC range, and there are some generous colleges (most selective colleges excluded) that offer institutional grants or merit aid that can bring down the costs significantly. It is also important to note that many public universities, especially those in CA, are highly impacted making it challenging for students to get some of the prerequisite classes they need. This can possibly equate to an extra year in college, which must be factored in and compared to the cost of four years at a private college where class availability typically isn’t an issue.
I make too much money for my child to get financial aid, so I shouldn’t bother applying for it.
Not true. Everyone applying to college should fill out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), even the wealthiest of families. Students must fill out the FAFSA to qualify for merit aid and be eligible for federal loans. Families have nothing to lose. It's free to fill out! Also, it is rumored that revealing a healthy financial status can sometimes positively affect admissions decisions. Wealthy families tend to donate more, and colleges know that. Some colleges require the CSS Profile, so students should be sure to fill that out as well if they are hoping for merit aid at a generous college.
Students have to come up with something original for their personal statements!
It is virtually impossible to come up with a topic that hasn’t been tackled before. Admissions counselors read thousands of essays each season. They are not looking to discover a creative topic that hasn’t been done before; They want to uncover each student's distinct qualities that can’t be conveyed in the application. They want to know how each student will contribute to their university in a meaningful way. They want to hear each student's voice and not his or her tutor’s or parent’s.
Volunteering in Africa is sure to impress college admissions representatives.
Not always! If the philanthropy is related to a passion that student has, and they can see that connection in the student's academic and personal profile, then college reps will most likely view it favorably. However, they will find it no more impressive than volunteering for a similar cause in the student's local community. Some students don’t have the means to travel for these enriching experiences, and colleges insist that they give no more weight to a student who can afford a trip overseas than to one who contributes in her/his own neighborhood. Best advice is for students to engage in volunteering that they feel personally connected to and are not doing just to bulk up their resume. They will feel personally rewarded, and it will look great on their college application.