College admissions scare tactics that need not scare you

Every Monday, google sends me an email on “college admissions” articles from the last week. This helps me keep up to date on other blogs, advice columns, admissions announcements, etc. Oftentimes, I share them on social networking sites, like Twitter or here on this blog. This weeks email wasn’t so exciting until about five articles down from the top of the email. I read “Prediction Tools Gauge College Admissions Chancesand my heart drops and my mind starts formulating forty million questions about what the article could possibly be about.

After reading the article to understand a bit more about the advertised site, I have come to realize that sites like “mychances” or “admissionsplash” are meant to not only scare you into maybe not applying or into maybe applying to schools that are not considered a good fit. The challenge is that, these sites are not reading your college application essay, nor are they taking your environment into account for extracurriculars or high school classes. For most colleges, a human makes the decision to admit or deny an application, not a computer.
I get it. They use statistic sites similar to what the CollegeBoard uses and then creates a formula to determine the chances you will get in. In theory, this seems like an awesome idea and for a hot second, I wish I would have thought of it. But I didn’t. Shucks. What you can do is look at the statistics posted by these websites, see where you fit in with the numbers. Remember that it’s only a numbers game.
Rather than rely on a computer program to determine your chances of getting in to a school, it is time to do some work on your own. Do your own college search on sites like The Princeton Review or the College Board and find schools that you like. There are many considerations to review when making this decision, and it should not come lightly.
Here are some factors to consider when YOU select colleges from which to apply:
1) Make a list of things you like to do, consider whether you want to continue those activities in to college
2) Look at your GPA and SAT scores. A student’s GPA is the most important factor in admissions and a large part of the whole package. While many schools see SAT scores as a secondary factor, they are still a factor in admissions decisions.
3) Choosing a major or program of study. While you don’t have to know exactly what to study, there are fields that may be of interest to you based on your personality and interests. Several sites are available to help you understand yourself better-and you can read this blog that offers links. Be careful though, you will want to look at multiple assessments. A counselor can help you with this if needed.
4) Location, Location, Location! Four years of your life! Make sure you take the location (weather, demographics, family) into consideration.
Ultimately, this decision should not be based on a computer program that runs your numbers based on a criteria selected by someone NOT affiliated with the college/university that you are interested in. There are many humans to use as resources, the admissions office, your counselor, independent counselors, college fairs, your family, and your instinct. Make sound decisions, not because some computer programs says yes or no, but because you want to.