Your Dad’s Cousin’s Friend’s Wife May Not Have the Answers

by | Mar 21, 2019 | College List

One of the biggest mistakes parents and students can make in the college search and application process is listening to the advice of unqualified people. The title of this blog is meant to be humorous, but in reality, it happens quite a bit. Someone who went to a particular college years ago may have strong feelings about and memories of the school that just aren’t relevant now. Or, a family member may have heard something about a college once that left a bad taste in their mouth. But that information is completely unrelated to what your experience would be like there. The point of this blog is, take what others say with a huge grain of salt.

Joan says it’s a good school

When researching colleges and creating a college list, it can be fun to get input from others. When you tell your coach or friend that you want a school with a good architecture program, perhaps they do have a good recommendation. But, just because it’s a good school in their opinion, doesn’t mean it’s a good school for you. They may not know the other things on your college “wish list”, so they may tell you about a college located in a city, when you’d rather be located in a rural area.

Bottom line: it can’t hurt to look up the school that Joan says is good, but don’t put it on your list just for that reason. 

Katelyn says it’s a bad school

This can be the hardest advice to ignore. You’re talking to Katelyn about a school you’re interested in, and she says that her friend went there and had a bad experience. She says it’s a ______ school (insert: party, easy, boring, etc). Who knows why she thinks that, or why her friend had a bad experience. You could be missing out on a really excellent college because of a set of circumstances you know nothing about that perhaps got twisted and shaped into one sentence…”It’s a bad school.”

Bottom line: thank Katelyn for her input, even ask to speak to her friend if you’d like, but keep an open mind and make decisions for yourself.

Frank says you won’t get in

Frank, your mom’s boss, says that the college you like is very difficult to get in to and you probably won’t get in. How does he know?? There’s a good chance Frank hasn’t seen your transcript or ACT scores. And, he definitely doesn’t know ALL of your extracurriculars or read your teacher recommendations. The only way to truly know your chances of getting into a particular school is to meet with a college counselor who can give you a detailed and educated determination if a school is a safety, target or reach.

Bottom line: tell Frank that his discouragement isn’t helpful and meet with a professional college counselor who can give you real advice.

Sarah says you will definitely get in

Yikes! Sure, it’s possible you might get in, but we are always careful to not use absolute words such as “definitely” and “never”.  These times, surrounding the pandemic crisis, are especially uncertain. The admissions world has been turned upside down because of application review changes. For example, the removal of the testing requirement (SAT/ ACT) made it so that certain colleges had a significant uptick in applications. It made it so that those colleges were a bit harder to get in to this past year.

Bottom line: Given these uncertain times, it’s important to thank Sarah for her vote of confidence, but proceed cautiously. Be sure to ask your Campus Bound counselor for their guidance around admission chances.

Adam says he’s never heard of that school

There are over 3,000 colleges in the United States; chances are that Adam doesn’t know all of them. The fact of the matter is that there are a lot of really awesome colleges out there that are lesser known to the general public. But that definitely doesn’t make them any lesser of a school. In the college counseling profession, we sometimes call these schools “hidden gems,” because that’s exactly what they are: extremely great colleges that may not be on everyone’s radar. The fact that Adam hasn’t heard of it, frankly, means nothing.

Bottom line: tell Adam about the college and now he’s heard of it! 

I know this blog post is a bit more farcical than most of our others, but that’s because basing your college list on what other people think is nonsensical. You are your own person, with your own goals and aspirations. Don’t let the popularity of a school, or what other people think get in the way of you finding the best college for you.

If you think a college counselor can help guide you through the college search and application process, contact Campus Bound to learn more about our services.

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