Friday, January 28, 2011

College Seminar: Cycle 1 - Myths and Misconceptions

The Myth of Procrustes

Casady college guidance does not operate like the Greek mythological robber, Procrustes.

We are not out to cut up our students to fit the highest ranked colleges in the US.

We don't measure our success by whether or not our kids get into or matriculate to colleges on the first page of US News and World Report: The College Edition.

At Casady it is a myth to believe that we have only one type of student that fits only one stripe of school.

One size, in other words, doesn't fit all.

Casady students, notably, have been admitted to 250 colleges the past four years.

* Stars represent schools Casady students have been admitted to 2007-2010.

The last thing we want our rising seniors to think is that we start and sustain the process via the rankings.

In contrast, we start with the student's thumbprint.

Where each concentric ring reveals their...







Learning style.

Matching each student's thumbprint with the right set of schools - that's our mission.

The Myth of Fit: There is ONE perfect college for me.

Truth: There is no perfect school.

It's easy to romanticize the college experience.

And think that there is ONE school out there.

One Romeo.

One Juliet.

This approach to the college search can easily lead to massive disillusionment.

It's not coincidence, I think, that our national college drop out/transfer rate (40-50%) and divorce rate (50%) are almost the same.

Our hope is that Casady students don't approach the college search with a "glass slipper" mentality.

But instead they approach it as a shopper looking for a new coat.

The coat may not fit comfortably at first. But with time one will grow into it.

(Click here to read an excellent article on the myth of fit.)

The Myth of the Good and Bad College

Truth: There are colleges that are good for you. And there are colleges that aren't.

Story Time: My dad went to the Air Force Academy. He thrived at the Academy and graduated at the top of his class with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering.

I, however, discovered on my campus tour that I was not cadet material.

I was not good at math or science; I didn't like keeping my room tidy; I had poor vision (forget flying); and I looked silly in a buzz cut.

In other words, the Air Force Academy was NOT a good college for me.

But I had to go through the application process to discover this...and have the courage to tell my father this.

A month later I visited Trinity International University, and I realized here was a small, liberal arts school where I could play basketball (aka scholarship), study literature, and hang out in Chicago on the weekends. This was a good college for me.

All colleges have something good to offer. It's just a matter if what the college offers is a good fit for the student.

Myth: Only high ranked schools produce successful people.

Blake Griffin. OU.

Sam Presti. Emerson.

Tom Hanks. Chabot College.

Steven Spielburg. Cal-State Long Beach.

Condolezza Rice. Denver.

Warren Buffet. Nebraska.
Truth: Success can come from anywhere. It's part of the genius of America. Just ask any of the people above.

Myth: Future Employers only recruit from prestigious universities.

Truth: Future employers are recruiting creative, problem solving, adaptive, imaginative, collaborative, and hard working 21st century employees everywhere.

The Wall Street Journal did an article on the top schools that corporate America recruits from annually. One would automatically think that the Ivies would top this list. Surprising as it may be to some, in fact, Penn State was #1. Unlike Harvard with a 6.9% acceptance rate, Penn State has 51% acceptance rate. None of the Ivies, in fact, were even in the top 5. The other top recruiting schools included Texas A&M (70%), Illinois (69%), Purdue (72%), and Arizona State (90%).

To see the full list click here.

Myth: Selective colleges are really only interested in the student's test score.

Truth: Selective colleges are interested in your test score, along with many other criteria (rigor and academic performance, resume, hooks, etc.)

* Click here to see the 800+ colleges that are Test Optional.

Myth: Selective colleges always choose the best well-rounded student.

Truth: Selective colleges always choose the best well-rounded class.

Most colleges make their admission requirements as visible and easy to understand as gazing at the Rocky mountains. At the University of Arkansas, for example, a student with a 3.25 GPA/24 ACT qualifies automatically for in-state tuition.
Some selective colleges, however, are as ominous and precarious as an iceberg in their admission practices.

And the truth is that at these schools there are underlying market forces and institutional agendas that affect admission outcomes.

We might call this the "hidden agenda".

The media then likes to work us all into a crazed frenzy over this small constellation of schools.

Who are these most selective schools and their admission rate? (Harvard 6.9% 30,000, Stanford 7.2% 32,000, Yale 7.5%, Princeton 8.18%, Brown 9.3%, Dartmouth 11.53%, Vandy 16.3%, Wash U 20%, NW 23%, Duke 14%, GT 20%, Chicago 18%, ND 29%, Amherst 16%, Williams 20%, Bowdoin 19%, Middlebury 20%, "Hot Publics - UT 40%, UNC 32%, UVA 24%, W&M 34%, Michigan 50%, Cal-Berkley 21.7%)

Here is the hard-edged truth:

At the top of the " selectivity pyramid" (admit rate % 6-25%)...

It's not fair.

It's not predictable.

And it's not about you (it's about them - their ranking, their bottom line).

The pursuit of the "well rounded" freshman profile then includes but is not exhausted to the following "hooks":

Gender, Geographic Location, Ethnic Minority, Sexual Orientation, Legacy, Athletics, Athletics, Fine Arts, Ability to Pay, under represented academic disciplines, etc.

It's a myth to believe that most colleges are looking for a reason NOT to admit you.

That's just not true.

Only 50 or so operate on this premise.

The majority of colleges, though, are looking for a reason TO admit you.

And don't forget this one unequivocal truth: the most selective party in the admission game is you.

Think about it.

You will apply to an average of 5 schools.

There are over 4,000+ colleges.

But let's just take the 250 colleges our students have been admitted to.

Do the simple math.

And what do you get?


That means that the University of You has a selectivity admit rate that is significantly below Harvard's at 6.9% or Stanford's at 7.1%.

The Myth of Marketing
: Selective colleges are sending you "snap apps" and materials to offer you admission.

Truth: Selective colleges are sending you snap apps and materials because they are trolling for your application.

Many of these schools pay .99 cents for each name from the College Board. Wash U, for example, buys close to half a million student names.

It's all part of an "attract to reject" marketing strategy.

The logic is as followed: The higher the application volume, the more the college can reject, which equals a lower acceptance rate, which in turn results in a higher ranking!!

The Times have closely chronicled the rise in application volumes. Here is one recent article.

The Myth of Big and Small

The big college experience (15,000-55,000) will provide me more opportunities.

The small college experience (1,000-2,500) will provide me fewer opportunities.

The big college experience will equate to greater anonymity.

The small college experience will equate to greater connectivity.

Truth: Small can mean Big in terms of Participation.

Highest % in Sorority/Fraternity = W & L (74%), DePauw (70%), Wofford 61%, Rhodes (52%)

Highest % in Study Abroad = Austin College, Centre College, St. Olaf, Elon, DePauw, Kalamazoo, Lewis and Clark.

Best Career/Job Placement Services: Northeastern, Claremont McKenna, Wabash College, Sweet Briar, Hampden-Sydney(The Princeton Review)

Truth: Big can mean Small in terms of Participation.

Big to Small: Sorority/Fraternity, Honors College, Clubs, Intramural Sports, Residential Hall, Study Abroad Program, etc.

Myth of the College Counselor

I am not the Godfather.

I am not Jerry Maguire.

Sometimes I am Reggie Bush.

Other times I am Gandalf.

The truth is though that YOU get yourself into college.
We simply offer some advice and write a letter narrating YOUR story.

The Myth of Undecided
: To be undecided means to be undefined.

Undecided does not mean undefined.

Nor that the student is somehow behind the back.

Or should start worrying because they don't have everything figured out.

It's okay if the only place you know where to start is by identifying what you don't want in a college.

What you are against will eventually evolve into what you are for.

In the end, we are all a bit undecided. We are all like 80's cinematic icon, Loyd Dobler, when it comes to our "future plans".