We have seen it hundreds of times—well-intentioned parents following questionable advice they get on social media. “Just because one student got into Yale after writing about her favorite pizza, and another student got into several Ivy League colleges after writing about shopping at a wholesale club, does not mean that a similar strategy will work for others.” According to Avalon Admission founder Neil Chyten, colleges look at the whole picture, the whole student, not simply at a few activities or a single essay.
“We sometimes find ourselves at odds with parents who feel they have learned a secret admission strategy from their favorite social media site. They think that they can game the system by following advice found on WeChat or Reddit or Twitter. Just because one student on the varsity tennis team got into a highly competitive college doesn’t mean that playing tennis is a winning strategy for others.”
So, is there an effective strategy for getting into top colleges? “Yes,” says Neil. “The best strategy is making a strong case that you are a great fit for the college. Details will vary from student to student. You can accomplish this through your essays, your activities, your honors and awards, your recommendations, your choices, your interviews, and many other factors that vary from college to college.”
Getting into top colleges is a deceptively complex process, so don’t rely solely on social media for advice. Consult an expert. And don’t try to game the system. Colleges will see right through the facade.