Going through the college admissions process is a little like going through the birth of a child. Young couples go from zero to 60 in a matter of weeks; at first knowing nothing and then magically knowing that this cry means their baby is hungry and that cry means a diaper needs to be changed. Parents who have recently "graduated" from the college admissions process freely dispense advice and sometimes misinformation. To dispel many of these untruths, let's focus on some of the most popular myths about college admissions.

Myth No. 1. There is one perfect college for your child.

Some parents and students put so much pressure on themselves to seek out college nirvana. There is no one perfect college. Many colleges will offer much of what you're looking for, but there will almost always be trade-offs. It's important to prioritize your selection criteria. Identify where in your hierarchy each of your factors sit.

Myth No. 2. The college admissions process is just a crapshoot, where you have no control.

Unless you are planning on applying to the 50 or so most selective schools in the country, you really are in control. According to a Barron's college guide book, "at 95 percent of colleges, they need you more than you need them."

Myth No. 3. Attending a name-brand school will make you happier and wealthier.

Plenty of research supports the fact that college graduates earn much more money than high school graduates ($1 million or more in lifetime earnings). But research also has demonstrated that which college you choose to attend is less defining in terms of future earnings and happiness.


Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte, N.C. For more information, visit