As you begin to consider your college application process, you are going to be hearing a lot of details from those who have gone before you, and gathering a lot of information from various sources. Some of this information will not be accurate or helpful to you as you map out your plan for your admissions journey. You may have some preconceived notions about what the college admissions process is going to be like, and it’s important to understand the difference between your expectations of getting into a top college and the reality.

Photo of a person's hand with a pen in it as they fill out a college application

Expectation:

Good grades and high test scores are all that matters to get into a top college.

Reality:

Good grades and high test scores are certainly important. They identify you as a serious scholar and as someone who can handle the workload of a rigorous academic schedule. However, your extracurricular activities and personal interests are also of critical importance when applying to college. It is these activities that will set you apart from other applicants, and demonstrate that you have been able to achieve balance between your academic workload and the other interests you want to pursue in life.

Expectation:

It is important to be involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible in order to stand out as a top candidate to get into the college of my choice.

Reality:

It is true that extracurricular activities are an important part of your high school experience and will be considered seriously by college admissions officers, but quantity does not measure up to quality when it comes to your life outside the classroom. Admissions officers will not be looking simply at the number of clubs, teams and societies you joined. They will be considering if you made an impact. It’s important to show a record of achievement, not just participation. Consider your interests and spend your time where your passions lie. Love music? Audition for a county or state level ensemble. Love computers and video games? Consider leading a game building or coding club. If you go where your interests take you, you will enjoy yourself and find success in those areas. And leadership outside the classroom will make you stand out to a college admissions officer.

Expectation:

There is only one college that is right for me, and if I don’t get accepted there, my future will be in jeopardy.

Reality:

There are literally hundreds of great colleges and universities to choose from, and many of them would be thrilled to have you as their student. All you need to do is be made aware of what is out there, and choose a small group that would be right for you, based on your achievements, abilities and budget. This is where seeking professional help is crucial. The experts at Great College Advice have intimate knowledge of the college landscape, and they know which colleges are right for you.

Do you have expectations about your college application process that are worrying you? The experts at Great College Advice can help you debunk the mysteries and clear up the misconceptions you may have. Contact us to learn about our wide range of services and find out how we can help you get into a top college.

Published by Mark Montgomery

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

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