Don't Believe Everything You Hear: Misinformation and Fear-Mongering in College Admissions

Contributor III

"You NEED to change this part of your application, or you will get rejected from every university that you apply to."


The international Ivy League admissions race haunts many high school students. 


With college counselors costing tens of thousands of dollars and acceptance rates at an annual drastic decline(s), the 400,000 students annually applying to these schools are willing to take any advice they can get. And for "T20" schools, that number becomes millions. 


So, when they, and admittedly I, hear these types of statements on the internet, we are likely to believe them. Now, who is spreading this misinformation? 


The users posting these videos have "college helper" in their social media bios and sell courses and resources for hundreds to thousands of dollars. They seem credible. They must have some experience in college counseling or admissions, right?


Most of the time, it's quite the opposite; these videos are commonly posted by underqualified college students using exploitative fear-mongering tactics to gain capital while spreading misinformation.


This exploitation involves three main factors: misinformation, appeal to authority, and fear-mongering. 


These accounts will typically begin videos by sharing falsified facts and out-of-context statistics or, in many cases, straight lies. You must do this exact activity to get into college. You will be rejected unless you do this, this, and this.




Next, they appeal to authority. They got into Harvard three years ago. Yes, you are entirely different students with different demographics, "stats," life experiences, and extracurriculars. But, if they can do it, you can too.




Last, they bring in the fear factor. You can "get in" to these schools if you do it with their guidance. Otherwise, you have no chance. Admissions officers are lying to you. College counselors are lying to you. You will be rejected. Nothing is as it seems. 


No! Do not listen. These videos are lies. Although they can have some truth, that truth is generally distorted to serve one purpose: income. 


Next time you hear that you need to buy an expensive course or have a letter of recommendation from the president to get into university, rethink the information that's just been given to you. It's okay to ask someone for their qualifications, which you should do when taking life-altering advice. 


And, above all things, the college you go to and the path you take does not define you. There are ways to succeed without going to prestigious universities. Follow your gut and do what is right for you. If that's going to an Ivy League, do it. If not, that is okay. 


Contributor III

It's an important factor when applying to further education that one don the research on their own. Each person's journey is different but nevertheless, roads can intertwine. Many people use the fear factor to get a reaction out of many of us and getting into college or university is the same. In different parts of the world, the admission process may be different but at the end of the day, many colleges and university focus is their end goal.  In the United Kingdom, each university has a clearing process and this process allowed students who didn't do well on their GCSE'S to have a chance to still enter university, based on their strengths. As such each student have a chance to enter university or college without the lies told by those on the outside. 

It is true that we can listen to others experience but at the same time, we much have our own. Do the applications to the schools you desire, get references from people who know you best and write the best personal statement showcasing your best quality and all you have to offer, in this way you avoid all lies and know your achievement is based on your hard work and your success is yours. 

I couldn't agree more with your comment. Students must do their research and take control of their college admissions journey. It's great to hear that there is a clearing process in the UK that allows students a chance to enter university based on their strengths, regardless of their previous academic performance. As you mentioned, showcasing your strengths and accomplishments in your applications is the best way to succeed.

Contributor II

Considering the advice of others is definitely an important aspect of college applications, but it's also important to remember that there's no single, definitive rubric in order to get into a prestigious school. Everyone has different hobbies and interests: some people may excel at academics, and others in leadership and their extracurriculars. At the end of the day it just matters how passionate you are about what you're doing and how you're faring in the fields of the interests that you have. The fact that everyone has to do certain things to get into an Ivy League is definitely not true, and it isn't the only way out. 

I completely agree! It's crucial to keep in mind that there's no one-size-fits-all solution to get into a prestigious university. Each applicant has unique qualities, interests, and strengths that are significant factors in their application.

Visionary I

I utterly detest the caste and any relating notion attached to having relations with Ivy League schools.