Everyone has had both good and terrible experiences with College Confidential, myself included. Sometimes it had great and valuable information that you’re thankful you stumbled upon, and other times you’re almost crying because you’re reading the Chance Me thread and realizing you’re never getting into Princeton (not speaking from personal experience).
But sometimes you have to reel yourself in and realize that no matter how all-knowing and deity-like College Confidential and its posters may seem, it’s just another college forum on the internet, where you never know whether what people are saying is real or not.
And for that I say, take College Confidential with a grain of salt.
*Disclaimer* This is a complete and total op-ed, as in, it is an OPINION. Do not flame my opinion, this is just my experience with CC, yours might have been better.
Now, if you say you haven’t heard of College Confidential (CC), I almost don’t believe you. But I guess there must be a few of you out there, so for their benefit, here’s a quick rundown of CC. For almost all of its existence, CC was strictly a forum for students (and parents) to discuss different topics related to college and high school to their heart’s content. They can pose questions, answer them, and ask for advice relating to picking colleges or their chances at getting into college (the famous “Chance Me” CC thread).
CC is primarily still known as a forum, although they’ve expanded somewhat fairly recently. Now they also focus on other college-related things - they have a blog, a college search service, and a scholarship search. I guess it was in an effort to stray from the stigma of them being a ruthless forum (although CC doesn’t come even close to the ruthlessness and pure meanness of SDN - student doctor network - don’t even get me started on that).
But before I start off on how you shouldn’t listen to CC, I have a confession to make…
I have a CC account. And I use it. And check on it regularly.
I know, I’m terrible, I’m a hypocrite, but sometimes it’s okay. Plus, what sort of student blogger would I be if I didn’t have a CC account?
So I have to admit, CC can have its positives. It truly has some great gems, if you can find those nice bits of information hidden among all the crap. I use it primarily for things I’m having trouble with during the application process or during my college search and I can’t find anywhere else. It’s also a really good place for a different perspective. A lot of the information I’m looking for can be found on a college’s own website, but I’m not always looking for that rose-colored view of a college campus or their admissions statistics, I want the cold, hard truth. And that, CC will give me.
But even though some of the information can be useful, most of it is not. Let’s start off with the number one problem with College Confidential: the ancient posts.
Yes, some of the posts are recent, but the large collection of CC posts, especially the ones that show up when you google a question, are from 2007, 2005, 2003. I consider getting a 2012 post recent. Much of that information is incredibly outdated and no longer applicable, and can cause a lot of confusion if someone misses the date on the post. (I was stubbornly trying to apply for a full scholarship to University of Rochester that no longer existed.)
Another problem with CC is that most of the people that post there are on the complete ends of the spectrum. Consider a thread asking about the academic environment of a particular college. There will be one 250 word post on how it is an incredibly stimulating academic environment that they believe will turn any student into an excellent scholar, while two posts down there’s a rant about how this college killed their GPA and their dreams of medicine. Yeah… Because of that, it’s hard to take most of these posters seriously, or even think that you’ll get an opinion that is colored by a very strong opinion of someone that is unwilling to concede to others.
Yet another downfall of CC is the number of parents either posing as students, or speaking like students, or in general posting. Sure, it’s great to have that parent perspective and get their advice, but there are some situations where a parent is trying to impose their wisdom on a thread and it just isn’t… just isn’t. They are much more stubborn in their opinion and also often don’t know as much. There’s a separate parent forum, and most parents (there are a few amazingly helpful ones) should stay there.
Finally, this is not necessarily a problem with the people on CC, but with the entire culture itself. A normal CC post is sometimes okay, even helpful, but eventually, it almost feels like inevitably, each thread turns into a Chance Me thread, where kids (or parents) are posting their stats, either desperately hoping for advice or just showing off their “amazing” stats. And when looking at these so-called “amazing” stats of a kid who has 500 hours of volunteering, 800 hours of research, 3 publications, and a perfect GPA and SAT score, remember that this is the internet. People lie, cheat, and steal (okay, maybe not the cheat and steal part) - people fake it till they make it. So don’t let it get you down. (I’ve been many-a-times discouraged by the people on Princeton’s Chance Me thread.)
*Sigh* yes, CC has many things wrong with it. But. I have to admit, it’s highly unlikely it is going to go anywhere in the near future.
So I can’t tell you guys to never use or look at or consider College Confidential, but please, please, please, don’t take everything CC says to heart, and definitely always take it with a grain (or a handful) of salt.
And as always, thanks for reading!