All for the app: experts bust college myths


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High school can be an extremely stressful time for students, especially with the added worry of college applications. However, there are some things students may be worrying too much about, according to Carl Krause, college counselor.

Madeleine Lawler, Co-Web Editor-in-Chief

You wake up early to make the junior class board meeting. During lunch, you sit in the MRC as an NHS tutor, instead of hanging out with your friends. After school, you’re up till 1:30 memorizing endless math equations. You wonder, ‘is it worth it? Will I get that dream college letter?’ Turns out there may be something else you should–or shouldn’t– be doing to make your college application the best it can be.

LZHS, as a whole can be characterized as extremely stressed for college. It’s common to find underclassmen taking 3 or 4 AP classes, GPA’s over 4.0, and students with schedules so crammed they never get any sleep. Arguably, a lot students don’t do things for fun anymore. It’s always college, college, college. Does it have to be?

Carl Krause, college counselor, thinks not. He believes there are many myths surrounding the college application process, that misguide high school students along the wrong path.

Myth #1: The SAT is better than the ACT

Colleges accept either one. They are different tests but they test on the same subject matter,” Krause said. “Some kids do better on one than the other, some kids do exactly the same. So it’s really up to personal preference, which test is best for the student.”

And that’s the key: choosing the test that’s right for you. According to, one test really isn’t better than the other.

A common myth is that elite colleges look more favorably upon SAT than ACT scores. In reality, all colleges and universities which require standardized testing accept both the ACT and SAT, and college admissions counselors have openly stated they do not prefer one test over the other,” according to

College Myth #2: All clubs and extracurriculars will help me

They won’t hurt, but many clubs and other activities that don’t require much effort or time aren’t going to mean anything, Krause says.

“One of the pieces of the application is that when you talk about clubs, you put in your commitment: how long you’ve been committed, how many hours of the week or year, so there’s a lot of commitment information about the club,” Krause said. “Putting a club that you visited one time freshman year doesn’t do anything.”

Long story short, says Krause, the next time you join an activity “just for the college app,” stop and think: Are you pursuing your passion? Will this be a big time commitment? If college applications weren’t a thing would you still join this activity?

College Myth #3: You have to take as many AP classes as possible

The school does have the resources to offer a lot of AP classes, and college admissions counselors my count this against you if you decide not to challenge yourself. However, you don’t need to completely overwhelm yourself with AP classes; it’s not just about the number, according to

Some people mistakenly believe that you should take as many AP classes as possible at all costs. You should take full advantage of your opportunities in areas that interest you, but you shouldn’t devote time and energy to classes that are unrelated to your goals and academic interests,” according to “Colleges want to see students who prioritize worthwhile learning experiences over hollow achievements. They’re also looking for students with very high GPAs. Stay balanced: You don’t want to overload your schedule with too many hard classes and end up with lower grades overall.”

Krause also emphasizes that colleges care the most about your GPA when considering you.

“The best indicator of how successful you’re going to be in college is your GPA,” Krause said. “Your test score is what you did one day for three hours, your GPA is what you’ve done every day for three years.”

College Myth #4: Schools don’t actually look at your social media when considering you

As always, think twice before you post. Many schools do research your online footprint, and your dream college might just count it against you.

“If they have the ability to, they do. More of the smaller privates and selective schools will do it, more so than the large public’s because they just don’t have the resources to do that,” Krause said. “One hundred percent [your social media] can affect your chances. I’ve heard stories, it does.”

Still don’t believe it? According to an article from the New York Times, after collecting data from a Kaplan Telephone questionnaire, “30 percent of the admissions officers said they had discovered information online that had negatively affected an applicant’s prospects.”

College Myth #5: Colleges can’t tell if you didn’t write your essay

Believe it or not, many students attempt submitting an essay that they themselves didn’t write, according to an article from

A lot of people have the same clubs, same classes, and same grades, so the essay is the one piece that’s supposed to be about you,” Krause said. “If it’s supposed to be a 17-year boy writing it, and it doesn’t sound like a 17-year old boy writing it, they could probably tell. I know you can usually tell if a parent writes it. But, I don’t why you’d want to fake writing your essay because the whole idea is to get to know you, not to get to know somebody else.”

In general, Krause says that although college applications can be stressful and confusing, you shouldn’t allow yourself to get wrapped up in them.

“It will all work out. It always does. If you want to go, you’re going to go somewhere,” Krause said. “If you’re motivated you’re going to do what you want to do, it’ll happen. So don’t stress.”