American Admissions Myths Debunked – Part Five

As the rush to submit university applications intensifies, we start to hear more rumors and whispers about the process that in some cases are misleading, and in other cases simply not true.  Here we debunk several of things that we have been hearing of late…..

Myth: “My advisor said that he/she knew the admissions representative at university XXX and said he/she could put in a good word and get me in.”

Fact: No one can pick up the phone or write an email and ensure that a student will be accepted into one of the more competitive universities.  The application process is hard to understand, but all efforts are taken to ensure that students are considered on their own merit in an objective fashion.

Myth: “The university will only accept my most recent SAT score.”

Fact: Universities receive all of your SAT scores and in general will consider the highest combination or set of scores on record.  Most students take the SATs a few times and it is perfectly OK to take the test again.

Myth: “I want my child to go to an ‘Ivy League’ school like Stanford, UC Berkeley, or MIT.”

Fact: None of those schools are in the Ivy League!  The Ivy League is nothing more than an athletic conference of eight schools that play sports against each other.  All the schools are on the East Coast and have been around for a long time.  As such, they are blessed with strong financial resources and are academically excellent.  However, being a member of this club really just means that they play baseball, basketball, soccer and other sports primarily against other teams in the conference.  For the record, the eight Ivy League schools are: Dartmouth, Brown, Harvard, Cornell, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, and University of Pennsylvania. 

Myth: “Only the Ivy League schools are good.”

Fact: No no no no!  Sure the Ivys are all good, but for engineering you may be better off at the schools that specialize in engineering.  Moreover, the Ivys are mainly large research institutions and smaller liberal arts colleges often offer a more personal undergraduate educational experience.

Myth: “I need a minimum score of XXXX on the SAT to get into that school.”

Fact: No, you don’t.  The SAT is one of many things that are considered in the application process and no school that we have heard of has a “minimum” score.  Now, you do need to score well on the SAT to get into a competitive school but a perfect score of 2,400 wouldn’t guarantee you entrance to any of them if you aren’t strong in other areas as well.  A good rule of thumb is to look at the median 50% SAT score range for the admitted students and compare that with your score.

Myth: “That school only accepts X students from Singapore per year.”

Fact: Schools can’t accept 200 students from Singapore in a given year; however, we have not heard of any formal quota system.  One problem students here face is that many excellent students apply to the same small batch of schools – effectively making it that much harder to get in.  Simply put: applying to the same schools that all your friends and classmates are applying to isn’t the best idea.

Myth: “Universities are better than Colleges.”

Fact: Colleges in America generally only award Bachelor degrees while universities generally offer post graduate degrees all the way up to a Doctorate.  Many colleges are excellent choices as the focus is on undergraduates.  Williams College was good enough for Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, after all…