Believe it or not the most obvious mistakes are the most significant in the admissions process. #1 Be sure to PROOFREAD your application….not just your essays but the rest of your application as well. #2 Be certain to send your test scores to each school. #3 Follow the directions on the application. #4 Keep studying and applying yourself in the Spring semester of your Senior year. These would appear to be obvious “to do’s” but every year there are hundreds of students who fail to follow these the basic steps and discover too late that they have not been accepted or have had their acceptance rescinded.
The most significant mistake is not customizing the pieces of the application for the particular college. Many use supplements (to the Common App) to be sure that they are right for you, and vice versa. Make sure the college understands that you know all about it, and that you would really make a contribution and take advantage of what it has to offer. This also applies to college interviews. The most avoidable mistake is showing up for an interview without having prepared; along with that is admitting that you are considering other colleges or don’t know some of the strengths of that college.
One of the most common, and detrimental, mistakes is to identify just one favorite school, feeling that it is “perfect” for you. There are so many excellent schools that for any individual student there are probably hundreds of excellent options, given your interests, grades, test scores, and your preferences regarding size, location, etc. It’s important to do lots of research (which does not require expensive travel), and to consider carefully what’s important to you. Try to find 6-12 schools that you love- this is not impossible! Make sure that for at least a third of them your grades and test scores are higher than their mid-50% of last year’s freshmen. Then wait until you know you are accepted to decide which of the fabulous options you have is the one you like best!
Applying to the wrong schools.
Being Shy! Students should utilize short answer and essay sections of an application to inform admissions departments of who they really are. It is often in the essay that students can appropriately disclose any special circumstances that may provide more insight to those making the decision about their student profile, academic record, financial situation,..etc.
Here are some significant and sadly, common mistakes:
PROOF YOUR APPLICATION, YOUR ESSAY, YOUR ACTIVITY STATEMENT AND BE SURE EVERYTHING IS SPELLED CORRECTLY, THAT YOU DID NOT USE ABBREVIATIONS (LIKE RD FOR ROAD), AND THAT YOUR GRAMMAR AND SPELLING IS ACCURATE. Also, don’t write an essay about how much you want to go to the University of Miami and send it via the common app to all the colleges you are applying to. Oops! Also pay attention to the spelling and meaning of each word, admission readers dislike reading essays with these mistakes: their for there, accept for except, your for you’re. PROOF READ.
Disorganized students really struggle with this process. If a student is organized, gets parts of their application in on time without prodding, I know they are ready for the demands of college. If they struggle, then hopefully they learn from this experience.
Starting the process later rather than earlier, having a closed mind about schools they are interested in, and being unorganized and/or careless is completing applications….
If you mention the name of a college in your personal statement on the common application, it is likely that you will live to regret it. Frequently, this egregious error is bemoaned by college admission counselors in backroom conversations, for example: “…and that is what I hope to bring to the Bucknell campus community” sent to rival Lafayette College since both accept the common application. To avoid this egg on your face and the ensuing regret, use the Avery Advantage approach: don’t mention names.
Misspelling your own name (or using a nickname) on documents. Wrongly entered email address. Loosing usernames and passwords. Forgetting to request that your entrance exam scores (SAT or ACT) are officially sent to each college that requires the scores. Not following directions. Missing the application deadlines!
Proof, print preview and don’t procrastinate! That is the number one issue with applications. It is all too easy to overlook errors after you’ve read your work umpteen times. Despite spell check and word counts there is still much that can be wrong. And just because it looks like it’s formatted correctly, print previewing may show otherwise. The worst situation is waiting until the last minute. What if you have technical difficulties? Always plan time to deal with last minute circumstances.
The three Ps often spoil students’ college applications. Procrastination: students who wait until the last minute and only spend a couple days—if that—on their application essays and short answer responses regularly produce far weaker applications, and thus receive a disproportionate percentage of the rejection letters. Presumptuousness: Students who approach their essays and short answer responses like they do an English paper are displaying overconfidence because writing for the college application requires a completely different style of writing than for a school assignment. Passivity: Finally, meekness when communicating about extracurricular accomplishments is another common recipe for rejection.
1) The biggest mistake is not taking advantage of the summer before senior year to get a head start on writing the essays. Although the Common App is not available until August 1, the short response and main essay topics are known prior to this. 2) Another mistake is not visiting a college that is at the top of the list. It makes answering the frequent supplement question; “Why College X?” very difficult if the student has never set foot on campus. 3) Procrastination in scheduling the interview is a third mistake. Students who do not schedule in a timely fashion run the risk of not having the opportunity for an interview.
How you present yourself is a key factor in how a college will react to your application. If the information you submit is sloppy, late, or unresponsive, the reader might naturally conclude you’re sloppy, late, and usually unresponsive. These aren’t particularly attractive traits, and none will further college aspirations. So to keep your application out of the reject pile, avoid the kinds of mistakes that make you look bad. Submit a document that reflects the quality of your work—edit, proofread, and print preview. Make sure you’re responsive to requirements—test scores, transcripts, supplements, and recommendations. And watch deadlines—application, scholarship, and financial aid. Dog those details and present your best self.
1) Shopping by “brand name.” Some students (and their parents) are way too focused on the prestige of the college name, rather than whether the college is a suitable intellectual and social match. 2) Under-utilizing the opportunity offered by the “personal statement.” Admissions officers would rather hear about a typical day in an applicant’s life or how a quirky relative affected the student, than about the applicant’s plans to stop global warming. 3) Resume-building instead of enjoying a healthy balance of activities. If the fulfilling activities also look impressive, that’s great! But simply piling up activities with college in mind cheats many students of enjoying their high school years.
Too many students wait until senior year to realize the rewards that a rigorous curriculum and top grades will bring, or harbor the false belief that high SAT or ACT scores will outweigh years of mediocre academic performance. Another college application mistake is choosing an extracurricular activity simply because you think it will look good on your college application, or assuming that you need to be involved in a long list of clubs and activities. Instead, pick one or two that are meaningful to you—ones that build on your unique interests and allow you to demonstrate commitment, accomplishment, and leadership.
Much like the rules for hair care in the movie Legally Blonde, there are three simple and finite rules that will keep you from making the most egregious application mistakes: Proofread, proofread and proofread again! You do not want your essay to stand out because of an outrageous spelling error or a naïve double entendre. Before any item is matched with an envelope, email address or upload site, double and triple check that you are sending the right item to the right college. Nothing makes you look more disorganized and silly than sending an essay about why you love Carol Stack’s College to Faber College. Deadlines do matter!
On her campus tour, Lisa saw that her tour guide was not wearing any shoes—neither were hundreds of other kids on campus—as the students were sharing their passion for a particular injustice in the world. Lisa asked more questions on the tour and during her interview and later back home, wrote about amazing connections between her and the campus. Students often don’t spend enough time getting to know the colleges on their lists. Many colleges count demonstrated interest and even have college specific questions on their college applications. Students need to learn much as possible about colleges. Lisa did and the college agreed.
Procrastination has accelerated over the past decade as the electronic age has empowered applicants to leave everything to the last minute. Students don’t allow for time zone differences, Internet service outages, server crashes because of the sheer volume of last minute applications, or the failure of their own computer at the last and critical moment. At the same time, a lack of attention to detail such as spelling and grammar or the all too familiar application to one college but mistakenly identifying the name of another college the student is applying to is just sloppy and inexcusable.
One of my past clients looked great on paper and I thought he was a shoe-in for his selective colleges. Then he “liked” my Facebook Business page and I clicked on his account. Wow! College admissions officers may check applicants’ online identities, meaning their myspace and facebook accounts. Students should delete anything that they wouldn’t want their mom or a prospective college to see, whether that be sarcastic jokes, bad pics, or political cartoons. Be cognizant of what your “friends” post of your wall and check tagged pictures to make sure you want to be identified. Just remember to present the best ‘you’ in the application and online.
Sarah worked hard through junior year of high school, then “rewarded” herself by signing up for a less rigorous senior year schedule. She was very disappointed when some of the competitive colleges rejected her. “Too light a senior load,” they said. Mark, on the other hand, was on cloud nine when his first choice college accepted him in the early action round. Unfortunately, he celebrated a bit too hard during spring, allowing his grades to slip well past what the colleges expected. “After all, I’m already in, right?” He was shocked to receive a letter withdrawing the acceptance. It’s easy to avoid these serious mistakes …just don’t give up before the finish line.
1) Your personal essay needs to tell the admissions office something about you they don’t otherwise find in the application. Give them some insight into why you are the person you are. 2) Don’t recycle “why do you want to attend college X” essays. Writing a generic essay for this prompt is very obvious to even first time readers. Do your homework and tell them why their college is really a good choice for you. 3) Submit the application at least 2 weeks before the deadline. Computer systems often crash when you wait to the last minute. Trust me on this.
Procrastination is an application killer. Many successful students who have been able to get by with all-nighters and last minute work find themselves with less college options after approaching the admissions process the same way. Not taking the time to thoughtfully brainstorm personal and specific essay topics, and failing to do the homework needed to persuasively answer the “Why us?” question many colleges ask, can tip the scales in the wrong direction. Finally, as other electronic forms of communication have come to dominate the lives of teenagers, missing important information and deadlines due to the lack of checking email regularly has become more of an issue.
1) Not learning all the parts of the search and selection process. Too many teens believe that the information provided by the guidance department is all they need to know to choose the colleges that are the best matches-not so! Find out the big picture by reading books, visiting websites, talking with professionals too. 2) Not knowing one’s self. Teens need to explore their strengths, challenges, learning and social needs, goals and preferences in college campuses/experiences. 3) Getting lackluster letters of recommendation from teachers. Letter writers need to know: why the particular colleges have been chosen, and in what ways the student is a good match for those schools.
FIT: Students must do the self-analysis necessary to determine what kind of school will be the best match for them. Too often, they are swayed by the opinions of others – parents, friends, rankings, etc. FOLLOW UP: Many students assume that their documents have arrived at admissions offices. If they have not received confirmation that their file is complete, they should contact the school to verify. FOLLY: Too many students believe that “senioritis” is a privilege/right. It is not. Schools will be reviewing final senior grades and reserve the right to revoke admission if there are significant declines in performance.
Seniors have never been through the college search and admission process, so it should not be a surprise to learn that many of them make mistakes along this journey. The biggest mistake I see is procrastination, which leads to stiffer competition in the admission cycle and loss of potential scholarship money. Fear of rejection also plays a role in this. A second common mistake is putting your heart into just one college. You should view each school that you apply to as a great one for you! Finally, too few students spend the time to visit schools before they make decisions about applying. This powerful tool could save lots of students from indecision agony.
Proofread! You hear it all the time, but it really is important. Have several sets of eyes look over your application and if that is not possible, use the old editor’s trick of reading the essay backwards. It works! Avoid find and replace! It is a recipe for disaster. Besides, if you can simply change the name of the activity or name of the college, you aren’t being specific enough. Be yourself! If any piece of your application does not accurately represent who you are, does not have your voice, or does not “fit” together, you run the risk of confusing the admissions personnel who don’t have a lot of time to make a decision on your application.
Rarely have I reviewed an application where I have not found some mistakes: inaccuracies, misinformation, incompleteness, or misspellings. So, students can profit by asking a counselor to review their application before they press the submit button. Students can also save themselves and their counselor a lot of trouble by using their formal name on all applications and on ACT/SAT registrations. Every year I deal with colleges that have created multiple files for the same student. One file for Jimmy has the application and test scores in, the other for James has the transcript in. Using nicknames creates problems since the school transcript is always with the student’s formal name.
Pay attention and stay organized so you don’t fall into these traps: 1) Failing to research schools adequately. I’ve known students who arrived on campus to find the university doesn’t offer their desired major or doesn’t have a good campus life. 2) Missing deadlines, forgetting essential items, or failing to confirm receipt of all application elements. One senior who was admitted to an Ivy League school came to me frustrated because it was the only university that hadn’t offered him financial aid. The university told me why: He had never submitted any of the required paperwork. 3) Making sloppy errors. Misunderstood questions, poorly written essays, and typos all will undermine your application.
By far, the biggest mistake is the belief the “perfect” college exists. Let’s be clear: No place is perfect, but fortunately, there are almost certainly lots of places where any particular student will get a great education in a setting where she feels comfortable. The second mistake is ruling out a college based on costs: apply without regard to cost. The third mistake is choosing a college for a fairly minor reason: it rained during my campus visit; I didn’t like the tour guide; our cab driver said people in town don’t like the college. Make sure you consider the whole of the institution, not small parts of it.
College Planning takes time and each step along the way requires some forethought. Those that are methodical and organized will find the senior year much more enjoyable. Starting early in high school by getting involved in activities that are meaningful and fun and taking challenging course will pave the way for supportive teacher recommendations, insightful college essays, and a resume of activities that resonates your accomplishments. Another pitfall to avoid: Applying to colleges that are all too competitive or not challenging enough. Take an honest appraisal of your intellectual accomplishments and be sure that your college list reflects a range that will offer you choices in where to attend in the end (hopefully along with some merit scholarships).
A student approached me in mid-December, with ill-formed plans to complete several applications in the week before he left for a December vacation. His poor time management created problems for others as his teachers were unenthused by his last-minute request for recommendations. He wrote only one or two drafts of his essays. Ultimately, he tried to submit his applications in the hours leading up to the deadline from half a world away. His lack of planning led to frustration and meant that in some cases, his applications did not meet the deadlines and were not even reviewed for admission.
Students must view their application as a portfolio that consists of several points of data, which create a complete profile! Letters of recommendation provide important data that can either help or hurt a candidate. If you want a strong recommendation letter that complements your application package, avoid common mistakes by following these 3 top tips: 1) Ask a teacher that has a personal story to share about you (it’s OK if you remind them!); 2) Ask a teacher who writes well; and 3) Provide enough lead time for your choice to complete a strong recommendation on time!
This applies to the college search, where students and parents sometimes fall into the trap of chasing prestige rather than a great fit in both personal and academic terms. Losing sight of priorities can lead students to choose activities that they perceive to be important for admissions, while making no sense for them personally. It can also muck up the application process, leading a student to send an application to Bowdoin conveying great enthusiasm for Cornell. By letting your priorities guide you, you’ll be the student who knows which of the two is the right match and why. You’ll ably demonstrate your interest to the colleges receiving your applications.
Many students pass up the opportunity to submit optional essays without realizing they give an admissions representative a better sense of who they are and the diversity of experience they can bring to campus. Students should also not get scared off by the “sticker shock” of an institution’s tuition, but keep in mind that colleges with expensive price tags often have large endowments to match, and can thus offer competitive financial aid. Lastly, visit campus! If you plan to spend four years of your life there, it’s worth making sure that it feels like a good fit.
Procrastination and missed deadlines, combined with the failure to proofread are the most common errors students make when completing applications. A student’s application is one item that can have a significant impact on their future and deserves quality time and review, yet I always hear students comment to their friends that they “…need to start their application,” and the deadline is less than a week away. Any item that requires proofreading needs to be set aside for a period of time and allowed to rest and then looked at with a fresh mind. If the item is proofread immediately after writing it, the brain tends to see what should be there rather than what is actually there.
Prospective students will sometimes choose to apply to a school because they think others will think that is a good match for them (teachers, parents etc.). In so doing, students run a considerable risk of also pretending to be someone they are not throughout the entire process. Finally, students often don’t listen to the professional advice they receive from their college counselors because it is not what they want to hear. If one can entirely be oneself in the process, take good advice from experienced professionals, and choose colleges and universities based on strong personal preference, one will avoid the most common pitfalls which can derail a successful selection process.
1) Writing a college essay without brainstorming some possible topics first; choosing a topic that doesn’t reveal enough about you. 2) Thinking you can whip off a good essay in a day or so and not taking the time to perfect it. College essays take thought and the summer is a great time to start them. 3) Believing that rough drafts are not important and sending an essay in with obvious grammatical errors. Essays should be read over and checked to make sure each word counts.
Three easy steps lead to reducing mistakes in the college application process: 1) starting the application process early enough to complete it with time to review and edit your responses 2) taking the right courses to prepare for college admission and 3) knowing oneself. Students who don’t have a basic understanding of their strengths, weaknesses and interests have difficulty communicating themselves to college admission officers. Not taking the right courses in high school will lead to foreclosing on options for a college experience. Finally, shoehorning the completion of a college application into too little time to complete it, is a sure recipe for failure.
(1) Misunderstanding a college’s perception of “taking the most challenging courses.” Sometimes students overextend themselves with course selections, not realizing they may not be adequately prepared for the curriculum. (2) Accepting advice from too many sources. I always tell my counselees and clients that the information they receive from people not professionally associated with college admissions is meant to be delivered with good intentions. However, too much can overload the circuits of a high school student (3) Procrastination!! Time management is essential in the college admission process. Deadlines must be met and the quality of a rushed essay is easily detected. Rough drafts may take time but they are necessary for both paper and online applications.
Following directions is critical. Whether it’s knowing which standardized test a school requires, keeping up with deadlines or reviewing your essay until it is 100% grammatically correct. All of these sound so obvious. But, you would be surprised how often students ignore these details. Colleges want to get to know you through the admissions process. They will give you plenty of directions and in addition to looking at your quantitative grades and scores; they want to see how you will follow their guidelines.
What seems to be the most obvious are common things students overlook during their college admissions process. I have seen the strangest email addresses that friends may think are just right. Students should use their name as an email address when communicating with college representatives. This may make them more familiar and also expresses interest in that college. Another mistake I encounter is that students are often set on just applying to specific selective colleges. It is important to research admission requirements and create a balanced list that includes colleges where students are likely to gain acceptance. Applying too close to deadlines is stressful and makes it more difficult to prepare well thought out applications. My advice –meet and beat all deadlines!
The misconception about applying more schools can enhance chances to get in and therefore selecting the same type of schools most likely will result in very little choices in the end.
Not starting early enough!
Indispensible tips for anyone at any time on their scholastic journey.
The biggest and most avoidable mistake students makes in the admissions, process is not sufficiently researching the schools to which they apply. When completing the individual supplements almost all schools a variation of why do you want to come to this college. Students often have absolutely no idea which not only makes it difficult to answer the question but does not bode well for figuring out if they are a match. “My friends/parents/counselor think it is a great school for me” is not an answer. The student who is going to be (hopefully) spending four years there needs to know why he or she wants to go to a particular college. The admission committee wants to know that you are have sufficiently interested in the school to learn about the college and make the argument as to why you would be a good addition.
Many students underestimate how important it is to show an interest in each school they apply to. This doesn’t have to take a lot of time – it can be as simple as adding in one customized sentence to each of your personal statements that is specific to the school. For example, mention how excited you are about School A’s marine biology department, or how you’re looking forward to participating in School B’s study abroad program in Japan. Schools want students who want them!
Misrepresenting yourself in any way. Filling in the forms carelessly, not sending everything in or sending things late, writing essays or letters with the name of one college but sending them to a different college. Rudeness of any kind, to anybody, while visiting or in contacts with college representatives (student or adult).
Answer the questions, ALL of them. If not applicable, say so. “Optional essays” are an opportunity for you to discuss any questions admissions might have about your transcript or anything else you might want to let them know, and help make you a more three dimensional person instead of just a piece of paper with some numbers. It is usually helpful to use essays to your advantage instead of leaving them blank. Tell admissions about your motivation in looking at their school, and why you will be successful.
Not doing their homework.
There are several common mistakes students make in the process. One is that they either apply to only one college, or one type of college. The only way to compare scholarship or financial aid offers is to apply (and get accepted) to multiple schools. I have had students only apply to Ivy League schools, that’s there whole college list. When the Ivy League schools reject them for admissions, the student is left scrambling trying to find schools to apply to at the last second. Apply to a mixture of schools when it comes to selectivity and cost.
Throughout high school, some students only focus on the academic part of their application. While this is an extremely important part, many colleges are looking at the whole package. Do not just ignore the extracurricular side or your community service side, just to focus on academics. You want to present a well-rounded applicant.
A final mistake is just not having teachers (or another well-skilled person in writing) proofread your college essays. The college essay can tell a great deal about yourself and your writing skills. Make sure you have someone proofread these essays before you send them in.
One of the most significant, avoidable mistakes that students make in the admissions process is choosing colleges because their friends are also applying to that college. It is most important that a student select a college based on his/her needs and finding his/her perfect fit.
From all my years of experience several come to mind!
One of the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make during the admissions process is simply not answering the essay question that is asked effecitvely and not having them edited before submitting them.
One of the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make during the admissions process is simply not answering the essay question that is asked effectively and not having them edited before submitting them.
Common and Avoidable Mistakes
1. Don’t watch their deadlines
2. Complete their applications at 2am and forget to sign or complete whole sections of the application.
3. Send a college an essay with another college’s name in it.
4. Wait until midnight on the evening the application is due to find that the college’s website is overloaded from traffic and just crashed.
5. Not checking to make sure all parts of the application have been submitted, did you recommendations go out?
Students often fail to proof-read their applications. Make sure that more than one set of eyes sees your application before you submit it. Students often spend more time on writing essays, building resumes, and completing extra work to submit to colleges that they rush through actually filling out their application. Be sure that your application is typo free, without misspelled words and filled out completely and accurately (this includes writing out the full name of classes you are enrolled in).
There are two significant and yet avoidable mistake during the admissions process for the applicant. First, be certain to meet all student material submissions deadlines. Included with that, be CERTAIN to list all course work and earned grades accurately. Secondly, Do Not drop courses after you have submitted your application. In most instances, your initial acceptance is contingent upon (satisfactorily) completing your requirements or your elective courses that you have in progress.
Lying or stretching the truth on extracurricular activities, not preparing for standardized testing adequately, making the essay a recitation of achievements instead of a chance to really make a personal statement, and NOT EDITING THE APPLICATION CAREFULLY AND THOROUGHLY!
Too often, students fail to answer the essay prompt. Rather than breaking down the question and outlining their thoughts so as to ensure that the answer is responsive, thorough and clear, they begin writing without adequate preparation and submit essays that are jumbled, grammatically incorrect, muddled and non-responsive…big mistake!
1. Make sure YOU, the student, is the one making contact with the Admissions office. Although you are busy, and your mom/dad/guardian is used to helping you with your schedule – take the time to email/write/phone the Admissions office for information, tours, etc. Many schools do keep that information on file.
– TYPOS!! Don’t make them!
– Don’t send an essay to College A with College B’s name in it
– Check and make sure every part of the application is filled out before you send it in
– Make sure you have represented yourself well. Did you make all the points you wanted to make in your application? Go over everything before you hit that ‘submit’ button!!!
Decide that there is only one “right” college.
The biggest mistake an applicant can make is to lose sight of what the process is about. It is not about picking up prestige or being able to put a name brand decal on your car. It is about finding the right fit between you and the school. Another major error is trying to market or portray yourself as something you are not, forgetting that you are human with strengths and weakness and in that way are someone who can add to the community that the admission office is seeking to create. Your application should be less about trying to portray yourself in a particular way, than about portraying yourself as fully as you can. Your central goal should be to provide as complete a picture as possible of who you are and what you can contribute to the school community. On a totally practical, mechanical basis, be careful about typos, misspellings and factual accuracy. Too, be attentive to deadlines. All of that matters.
It sounds like common sense, but don’t overlook the importance of reading each individual college application and making certain you are accurately providing the requested information. Every admissions season, many intelligent, highly qualified students who would be excellent candidates for admission damage their chances of acceptance by failing to read applications thoroughly, follow the instructions, and write to the prompts that are provided. Don’t assume that you know what an application is asking for and fill in blanks indiscriminately. Don’t write essays that wander off topic or fail to address the topic entirely. Don’t ignore word and character counts. Don’t copy and paste the same essays and information from one application to the next. Applying to college is a detail-oriented process that takes time and close attention. Don’t compromise all the hard work you’ve done in high school by cutting corners and sending in sloppy applications. Instead, let your applications do justice to all you’ve achieved and have to offer.
Many students make the mistake of choosing an “easy” schedule for their senior year. Some students also start to let their grades slip after they’ve applied to their list of colleges. These are both big mistakes. Colleges want to see you continue to challenge yourself and continue to do your best academically and this can definitely affect their admission decision. In fact, colleges are within their right to revoke their offer of admission if your final transcript is not what they anticipated.
1) Not allowing enough time to work on your personal statement. Give yourself enough time to write, edit, rewrite, proof and rewrite some more. Even the best authors go through multiple drafts and iterations.
2) Not proofreading your applications. After the tenth application, seniors can go into data entry auto-drive. Don’t submit your application with dumb mistakes. Let a parent or friend help you proof. Don’t forget to print/preview! A lot of online applications will cut your essay off if you’ve gone over their character limit.
3) Waiting for the last minute to hit the submit button. Counselors advise students to allow up to 48 hours for application fee payments to be processed. Standardized test scores can take up to 2 weeks to be sent. College sites have been known to shut down (or dramatically slow down) right before midnight due to the enormous amount of last minute traffic.
One of the biggest mistakes students make is not being true to themselves. Too often they write/say what they think the admission officers want to hear rather than using the opportunity to let a side of themselves shine through.
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.
Many students have this notion that they will not get into a good college if they aren’t accepted into an ivy league or top tier public university. This is so far from the truth and the sooner students realize they will “land” in the correct place for them, the admissions process will be much more fun and fulfilling. There are over 3,000 college and universities in America alone – certainly there is a place for everyone!
By far, the most significant and avoidable mistake that high school seniors make when it comes to the college admissions process is procrastinating. Don’t delay in taking your SAT’s and/or ACT’s or completing your applications! Think about it: when you are rushed, you don’t do as good of a job as you would if you had plenty of time.
Easily avoided mistakes include: submitting unproofed materials, waiting until the last minute to ask references to complete their assessment of you, using different emails and names and applying without a strategy. One student, of which I am aware applied to 48 schools because the application process made it easy to do so. Sending materials without someone proofing after spell check is often the result of waiting until the last minute.
1. Thinking that colleges want them to list every single club, activity, and interest they have ever had. Colleges aren’t looking for students who have done anything and everything. Rather, they want people who have maintained an interest and commitment to a few things over the course of time.
I just ran into a very common mistake on an application–one that is both egregious and easily avoidable–putting the name of the wrong college in your application essay or short answer. Imagine that I am an admissions dean for Favorite University, which, along with Central U and Interesting U, is one of several popular colleges. Many students cross-apply to these three schools, which are academically similar…so, the three colleges are competing for the same students.
Proper research of colleges and universities is the main reason students are often unhappy with their final choice campus and then the experience they have in their first year. Picking colleges based on simply major choice and cost is backwards. Best to pick colleges based on quality of the campus, reputation, what students say about their experiences as noted on Unigo can help students make good choices to begin with. Applying to high or too low on the scale of predictability of getting in can make for too many rejections or acceptance to too many schools at the lower end, leaving the student thinking that they could have “done better” in terms of their getting into “good” colleges.
Lack of organization and prioritization of the application, choosing the recommender, University selection, errors in essays, interview preparation etc.
High school seniors are notoriously busy, but the biggest mistake I always see is students who don’t open their mail (snail AND email)! Colleges send you information frequently and it can be a challenge to keep up with the flood of statistics, dates, and deadlines that they send you, but by ignoring their messages, you might be missing out on a great scholarship opportunity or a chance to visit campus that would fit perfectly into your schedule. I once had a student who didn’t open a letter inviting him to come and compete for a full-tuition scholarship until three days before the competition was happening – and by then it was too late for him to sign up! Don’t let that happen to you – make time to read letters and emails from colleges carefully!
Students fail to prepare for the SAT or ACT. Never go in cold. At the very least, buy a Prep book and take a complete test. Keep track of your time. Always prep for either of these tests. It is a waste of your time and your parents money to go in unprepared!
Getting so busy with school work and other obligations and pushing work on the the application later and later, then having to hurry and not do as good a job as you can. Treat your college applications like important school work; do a certain amount of work on it every week, or even every day. You want to do your absolute best on your applications, including the essays, in order to show the true you to colleges, not the hurried, frantic, “I just gotta get it done and in” you!
They are trying to be cleverer than themselves in their application;
They apply to only one school out of a few thousands.
One huge mistake I noticed students made while I worked in admissions was the failure to distinguish themselves in any meaningful way. Students didn’t seem to understand their audience. Admissions officers want to understand why that student is a great candidate for their school, what he/she will contribute. The essay plays a large role in influencing the outcome, and is the part of the app a student has the most control over. Tests scores and grades are pretty much decided. The essay is the personal part of your essay which allows the admissions officer to really get to know you. As the EssayLady (essaylady.com) I now help students wth this crucial part of their college app.
They are trying to be clever than themselves in their application;
They apply to only one school out of a few thousands.
Don’t make assumptions. With so many options and choices, students often look for shortcuts and make incorrect assumptions regarding institutions that seem similar. Also don’t make your college choice based on your friends or family members. MAke the best choice for you.
One mistake that students make is not carefully observing various institutional deadlines – for applications, financial aid document submission, etc. Remember that if you don’t observe the deadlines, there are always others who will, and they will be the ones whose applications are considered. Set up a calendar at the beginning of your college search and application process, entering all important dates and deadlines, and ADHERE to it!
One mistake that students make is not carefully observing various institutional deadlines for applications, financial aid document submission, etc. Remember that if you don’t observe the deadlines, there are always others who will, and they will be the ones whose applications are considered. Set up a calendar at the beginning of your college search and application process, entering all important dates and deadlines, and ADHERE to it!
Start planning your college application process in 11th grade. The biggest mistake is waiting until 12th grade to start researching colleges, planning their applications, and taking the necessary steps to create a smooth process. While some colleges change deadlines, generally, a student can get an idea in the 11th grade what the deadliness will be for the schools they wish to apply to. Also, in the 11th grade, in the 2nd semester, is an excellent time to ask teachers if they are willing to write your letter of recommendation. Doing this will allow the teacher ample time to plan your letter and also you will stand out in a good way since most students wait until 12th grade to ask.
PLANNING AND HONESTY!
Students need to begin their college search and planning no later than the spring semester of their junior year of high school. The common application is available in August. The five common application question almost never change. Begin your essays and have a completed drafts if not finished products by the beginning of your senior year. Fill out the easy parts of the common application as soon as it is released. DO NOT wait until the last week prior to an application deadline to submit your application. There have been several glitches in the common application submission process and you need to protect yourself by not falling victim to a deadline glitch.
Never embellish or be dishonest on your applications. Always write your own essays and be honest about the other elements of your application.
Some of the most simple mistakes to avoid are:
There are a few avoidable mistakes.
1. Always check spelling
2. Answer all questions
3. When writing an essay and commenting on the school you are applying to; make sure you put the correct school name. I know that most students use the same essay and send it to multiple schools. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you put the correct school in. Nothing like and admissions officer from PENN getting an essay that says how much you want to attend NYU.
4. Send all applications and supplemental material in ON TIME. In fact, do not wait until the deadline.
5. Notify teachers and administration that you would like them to write you a letter of recommendation. Do not wait until the last minute because then they cannot write a good letter for you or they will have written so many that they are burned out and are not taking any more requests.
In our view, there are four significant, yet avoidable mistakes that students make. The first mistake is that students do not use each piece of their application to tell a consistent story. You can combat this error with personal brand mapping to share who you are, what impact you hope to make, and why the college is an ideal fit for you. The second mistake is that students wait until the last moment to work on their applications. Often, they discover roadblocks like attempting to get recommendation from a busy teacher, experiencing writer’s block, or regretting not taking a particular course. The result can be drastic such as missing deadlines, so start the admissions process earlier. The third mistake is that many applications are often filled with grammatical errors, which do not present the best first impression of you. Proofread, proofread, proofread, and then proofread some more! You have only one chance to make a first good impression. The final mistake is that some students do not ask for feedback on their applications. It is critical that you ask your parents, teachers, friends, classmate, and counselors to review your application and provide helpful feedback. Also, you should not test drive portions of your essays out on college admission officers and ask them for their thoughts. It won’t get you very far.
I think the most common mistake is when students do not proof-read their application. All students should proof-read each application and essay and should also have someone else proof-read it as well (this could be a parent, teacher, guidance counselor or college consultant).
Not submitting applications on time, never visiting the college, only answering the basic questions, and not submitting or sending other paperwork. Neglecting to have an interview or not submitting any LOR’s, not applying for one of the college’s own scholarships. But here’s one that’s often overlooked – having way too few community service hrs on your transcript.
Not submitting applications on time, never visiting the college, only answering the basic application questions, and not submitting or sending other paperwork. Neglecting to have an interview or not submitting any LOR’s, not applying for one of the college’s own scholarships. But here’s one that’s often overlooked – having way too few community service hrs on your transcript.
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