A new Urban Family series where we ask a Shanghai-based somebody to tell us 5 things important for expat families in Shanghai to know.
Tess Robinson is the founder of Team Edu Consult. She graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor's Degree in international relations after receiving her MBA at Harvard Business School. Since 1998, she has been committed to helping students apply to accredited boarding schools, colleges and universities, as well as the graduate schools.
Here she tells us 5 common myths about applying to college.
Few things strike more fear in the hearts of high school students and their parents than college admissions. Myths surrounding college admissions and the requirements for attending a “good” college of any type are especially popular in China. This article is meant to dispel the myths we most commonly confront in our practice. We hope that these facts relieve your fears and help you resolve to focus on the things that really matter in the college admissions process!
1. I only need US News and World Report to determine the best college for my student
US News and World Reports rank colleges based on a wide range of generally relevant quantitative data such as freshman retention rate, graduation rates, spending per student, selectivity of admissions and alumni giving rates. While it can reasonably be used as a viable place to gain an introduction to the breadth of colleges and universities in the US and abroad, I cannot help but point out that US News and World Report rankings do not consider the factors that are most relevant to you as an undergraduate student and therefore cannot and should not be used to determine how good or bad a college might be for your child.
Such rankings are not especially relevant to undergraduate students as much as what good counselors know to be the most important criteria for evaluating a college, such as the size of first year classes, accessibility of professors, access to undergraduate research, tutoring centers and academic counseling.
2. US News and World Report is government-endorsed source for college rankings
US News and World Reports is a privately run magazine that ranks colleges and universities annually. The US government endorses neither the magazine, its ranking system, nor its published results and neither do the colleges and universities themselves. In fact, university and college deans of even the top ranked institutions scoff at such rankings, as they know that they don’t focus on the factors that most impact student life or education.
3. If my college is not well known, it is not worth attending
There are hundreds of excellent colleges, both large and small, that are less known in international markets. Keep in mind though that postgraduate programs and often employers are very familiar with the virtues of students who hail from institutions unfamiliar to the masses. Experienced counselors know some of these lesser-known colleges offer an outstanding range of classes taught by professors dedicated to undergraduate instruction. While larger, better known institutions may offer some of these benefits, keep in mind that they are usually reserved for graduate school students and not undergraduates.
4. Liberal arts colleges do not offer science classes
Colleges of Liberal Arts and Science (the proper name for these schools) offer a wide and deep variety of classes in the sciences, math and engineering. In fact, science is an important part of a liberal arts education and every graduating student is required to take a number of math and science courses in addition to courses in the social sciences, humanities and languages. As a result, graduates from liberal arts colleges are highly sought after in fields from teaching to finance and medicine.
5. Attending a boarding school in the US or UK will guarantee me a spot in a top college
Attending boarding school does not guarantee a student admission into a ‘better’ or more selective college. College admissions are dependent on the performance of the student in their school environment. Colleges will ask the same questions of all students regardless of the school they attend. How rigorous was your selected academic program? How well did you perform academically? Did you make the most out of the resources available to you? What are you passionate about and what did you do with your passions? If anything, boarding school students have an even higher hurdle to clear as they have generally had more access to a wider diversity of activities and colleges, therefore there can be higher expectations of them.
[Image Via Hospice]