My Top 10 List of Mistakes in the College Admissions Process
1. Choosing your colleges based on where your friends are applying
2. Not taking the SAT and the ACT. Take the time to find out which one of these is the better test for you.
3. Not taking the senior year seriously. Your course selection and grades in the senior year are very important.
4. “Sticker Shock” - assuming colleges will be unaffordable. Many colleges offer need-based and merit aid. You won’t know if you can afford it unless you apply. In fact, sometimes the private college with the big sticker price ends up being the best financial offer.
5. Not thoroughly researching admission requirements. Make sure you know what each college requires in terms of high school coursework, testing, recommendations, essays, etc…
6. Not paying attention to deadlines. Plan ahead and take those deadlines seriously. Don’t wait until the last minute to apply. Also, meet any deadlines your school may have to ensure that your transcript and recommendations are sent to colleges in a timely manner.
7. Not talking with the high school counselor. Make sure your counselor knows who you are - your interests, your activities, your goals. That counselor needs to submit your transcript and a letter of recommendation. Give the counselor a resume or information about you to help the counselor support your application.
8. Getting your heart set on only one college. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. There are several colleges where you can be happy and successful.
9. Being careless with cut and paste. Your “Why College X” essay better be about College X and not College Y! Double check your work. Edit. Pay attention to details in your application.
10. Being a “stealth” applicant. Many colleges tend to track something called “demonstrated interest.” Visit the college website and complete a prospective student questionnaire. Attend college fairs and complete the info cards even if you are already on the college mailing list. Visit the campus if at all possible. Request a local interview if offered. Attend any local reception or high school visit that may take place. Email an inquiry about a program or activity of interest. Make sure that your application is NOT the first official contact you have with a college.