US College Admissions: 10 Myths About the American College Application Process

(Studying abroad holds great promise for opportunities, experiences, and more. But the process to secure admissions includes questions. What are the scholarship opportunities for international students? What are universities looking for? What makes a single outstanding application? Is going abroad an opportunity for a select few? Every Friday, The Indian Express invites an expert to offer advice, tips and answers to these frequently asked questions in its ‘Study Abroad’ column. Today we have (Bombay’s best-known and best-known education consultant Viral Doshi busts some myths about writing a successful application to an American university.)

– Viral doshi

In the last 10 years, I have seen a jump of over 200% in students applying to America. There are four reasons for this: the increase in wealth in India, the free availability of foreign exchange, the Internet becoming a level playing field, and the emergence of more international schools in the country.

About 15 years ago, there were between 30 and 40 International Baccalaureate (IB) schools. Today, there are more than 200. It is also important to note that the rush today is not from major cities like Delhi and Mumbai, but from second, third and fourth tier cities like Pilibhit, Badlapur, Bhusawal, Coimbatore and Asansol.

The entire application process is no longer the preserve of the urban elite. It has become a free for all. Indians today want the best education for their child and if they can afford it, why not?

image of immigration

However, myths are being created and I think it is important that we demystify them.

Myth 1: Studying in an international board in class 11 and 12 gives an edge over Indian boards

Not entirely. I think the board makes no difference. It’s good that you’re doing it. Finally, most of the Indian students do the Indian boards. Let’s say there are three students: one is in IB, one has done an ISC board and one has done a state board. Now, all things being equal, they prefer the international board.

But if someone in IB has 80%, an Indian board has 85% and a state board has 90%, he prefers the state board.

Over the years, admissions to top universities have been split equally between Indian schools and international schools. The best admissions I have seen are not necessarily from international boards, but from national boards.

It’s about how you plan. And finally when you are compared to your school people first and then to your city and necessarily to the whole country together.

Myth 2: Your predicted scores in 12th boards are crucial for US admissions

When you apply to colleges, they look at class 9, 10, 10, 11 marks and first term marks of class 12. Final boards expected marks are only 1/6 of the entire component . It is not the be all and end all. They are more interested in your school journey.

On the other hand, in the UK, where you get a conditional offer, predicted scores become very important.

In American high schools, there is no concept of predicted scores. IB and A level schools in India started predicted scores because they usually predict UK scores. This was reduced to American admissions.

Myth 3: Advanced Placement (AP) is crucial to getting into a good college

APs are first-year university courses offered by the university council to enhance your application. Previously, APs were mainly used in American high schools so that students could distinguish themselves to go to a top university. Eventually, PAs became international.

If you do the international board, APs are not required. However, if you are doing the Indian board, APs can be useful. They can match you with the international board in terms of content rigor.

An AP subject is usually equal to an IB subject or an A-level subject, so it puts you on a par with international bodies. Traditionally, some of the Indian board students who have walked into America’s top universities took AP along with their courses.

Myth 4: Making an “early decision” to go to college is an advantage

American colleges have early applications. There are two subdivisions here. One is called “early action” where you apply to a college before November 1st. Usually in mid-December, the university will get back to you and let you know if you have been accepted, rejected or deferred. If you are admitted, you are not bound. You can wait for all other answers until the end of March and then decide if you want to go or not.

With “early action”, you can apply to as many colleges. Here you are applying early, deciding on an admission and showing your commitment to them. Therefore, it can increase the chances by 10-15%.

If you choose to make an “advance decision,” on the other hand, meaning the choice is binding, it improves your application. But there is one very big caveat: you must have a solid application before November 1st.

Many people think that an average application coupled with an early decision will result in admission. never It’s always a good app.

If you have a weak application, wait three to four months until January, make your application stronger and apply on the regular schedule.

Myth 5: Many colleges have decided to make the SAT or ACT optional and admission to top colleges is easier without them

If you look at any of the top colleges, over 95% of students get in through SAT or ACT scores. The competition is stiff – when you have 50,000 applications for 2000 seats, the SAT becomes beneficial. But there are many colleges for which the SAT is optional. But if you’re aiming for a top college, having an SAT or ACT will be an advantage. There are exceptions to everything. But in general, only people with SAT or ACT scores have gone to top colleges.

If your SAT isn’t there, but your academics are strong, you can try to apply without it. But if you’re looking for a top college, it’s very difficult and rare to get in without SAT or ACT scores. One in 10 students in this category would have adapted to something else, such as sports. It’s optional, but if you can try the SATs, do it.

Remember, SAT was never optional until two and a half years ago. Because of the pandemic, and because SAT centers were unable to take SAT exams, it was difficult to take the SAT.

(Part 2 of Viral Doshi’s article on the remaining myths surrounding US college admissions will appear next Friday)

(The author is an education consultant and runs Viral Doshi Associates in Mumbai)

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