Coping With College Rumors

What comes to mind when you hear the word “rumors”? For some, it might be a 1975 soft rock album (just lost all the students with that one), but what this word calls to mind for me is images of people perpetuating unverified stories in order to sound knowledgeable, or hurt someone else’s reputation while boosting their own. In the college counseling world, rumors often cause parents and students alike to make big, life-changing decisions based on misinformation. So, when your friend’s cousin’s soccer teammate tells everyone around them that there’s no way that anyone with below a 4.0 is going to your top choice school - how do you know what to believe? It can be completely disheartening to have one’s heart set on a school  , only to hear that a they’ll never get in because the college isn’t “good” (whatever that means) or you have to join a fraternity/sorority to make friends or the the basketball team you tried out for isn’t good anymore. We know these types of statements don’t feel good to someone who is applying to that college, but how do we know whether or not they’re true and we should change our college list?

The answers:

1. Research

2. Ask an expert

3. Ask the college themselves!

I completely understand why busy parents and students don’t do research. It is time consuming and can feel arduous after a long day of work or studying, but it is so worth the peace of mind to learn the facts instead of spending that time discussing it with others who don’t have the answers and increasing your stress. There are several great resources for researching colleges:

  1. The college’s website

  2. (for basic facts and stats)

  3. (for reviews of the college by students)

  4. (up-to-date stats on college admissions, finances, etc.)

If you are going to ask an expert, make sure they are a college or guidance counselor - most school officials and teachers don’t know a whole lot more than the average person, so while they may try to be as helpful as they can, they may not have up-to-date information. Of course, you can always contact us! Contact info is on our website at

While wait times can be a bit long during the application season (October-January), actually picking up the phone and calling the college you have a question about yields surprisingly good results. Students or school officials almost always answer the phone, instead of automated lines, and they will find you the answer from different departments if they don’t have it. A lot of my families are scared to call because they think the question could tarnish the student’s reputation with the school - but you can call without giving a name and they will not question it. If someone can’t answer your question, call back later and see if you can speak to someone different, as the staff often specialize in different areas.

So, the next time you hear something that sounds an awful lot like it could be a rumor, take it with a grain of salt, do your research, and draw your own conclusion before panicking. Remember that a lot of your peers are nervous about the future this time of year and may be perpetuating rumors to make themselves feel better. Instead, you can be a positive and supportive voice for those around you.