What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

Sally Mehaffey

What not to do when applying to college!

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to follow these the basic steps and discover too late that they have not been accepted or have had their acceptance rescinded.

Nina BerlerFounderunCommon Apps

Avoid These Mistakes . . .

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. Another major and very avoidable mistake is not editing and proofreading your written work. This goes for the Common App, supplements and any other written communications with the college. This makes a statement, as does original polished work.

Susan Weber

Falling in love

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!

Helen Cella

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

Applying to the wrong schools.

Elisa BennettDirector & Independent College CounselorAccess 2 Admission

When Applying for Schools, Avoid The Following…

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.

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

Here are some significant and sadly, common mistakes: 1. grammatical and spelling errors 2. submitting the wrong essay to a school 3. procrastinating with regards to deadlines and having to deal with crashing computers, overloaded online application systems, and…. freak October snowstorms that knock out electricity! 4. failing to “demonstrate interest” in a school. (This one is particularly sad because it’s such as easy requirement. All that you need to do is to get on their mailing lists, attend a campus tour (in person or virtually), talk to a college rep at a college fair or on the phone, or even just “liking” them on facebook.)

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

Here are some significant and sadly, common mistakes: 1. grammatical and spelling errors 2. submitting the wrong essay to a school 3. procrastinating with regards to deadlines and having to deal with crashing computers, overloaded online application systems, and…. freak October snowstorms that knock out electricity! 4. failing to “demonstrate interest” in a school. (This one is particularly sad because it’s such as easy requirement. All that you need to do is to get on their mailing lists, attend a campus tour (in person or virtually), talk to a college rep at a college fair or on the phone, or even just “liking” them on facebook.)

Tam Warner MintonConsultantCollege Adventures

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.

Tam Warner MintonConsultantCollege Adventures

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.

Nicholas Umphrey

Being organized!

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. Keep a binder with folders in it for each school, and another one of financial aid and scholarships. Also keep a calendar of some sort to keep track of deadlines. Please allow teachers and counselors at least two weeks to complete a recommendation for you. Bringing it in the day before makes it so 1) teachers or counselors will not have the time to write a thoughtful letter and 2) they are probably not happy with you waiting until the last minute, and making your problem their problem. Most of the time, you have plenty of time to get your things together, there is really no reason to procrastinate.

Benjamin CaldarelliPartnerPrinceton College Consulting, LLC

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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….

Erin AveryCertified Educational PlannerAvery Educational Resources, LLC

Say My Name, Say My name

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.

Laura O’Brien GatzionisFounderEducational Advisory Services

These are mistakes we often see:

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!

Laura O’Brien GatzionisFounderEducational Advisory Services

These are mistakes we often see:

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!

Nancy MilneOwnerMilne Collegiate Consulting

Mistake #1

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.

Craig MeisterPresidentTactical College Consulting

Procrastination, presumptuousness, and passivity often doom college applications…

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.

Robyn MorethIndependent Educational ConsultantRTM College Consulting

Summer break = essay time…

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.

Nancy GriesemerFounderCollege Explorations LLC

The devil is in the details…

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.

Jane GabinCollege CounselorNew York City

3 significant and avoidable mistakes…

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.

Marilyn MorrisonFounderMorrison Educational Consulting

Keep your eye on the prize!…

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 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.

Carol StackPrincipalHardwick Day Inc.

Proofread, proofread, and proofread again…

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! 

Rebecca JosephExecutive Director & Foundergetmetocollege.org

Getting to know you: getting to know about you…

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.

Peter BrassDirector of Student Services & University AdvisorSt. John’s Ravenscourt School

Don’t procrastinate and respect the details…

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.

Jolyn BrandOwner & CEOBrand College Consulting

Don’t forget your online identity…

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.

Gael CasnerFounderCollegeFindEdu.com

Don’t quit the race until you cross the finish line…

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.

Todd JohnsonFounderCollege Admissions Partners

Don’t make these common mistakes when applying to college…

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.

Scott HamiltonFounderFuture Stars College Counseling Center

Putting it off, missing the mark and not checking in…

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.

Lynda McGeeCollege CounselorDowntown Magnets High School

Avoid these mistakes, easy as 1,2,3!…

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.

Alison AlmasianDirector of AdmissionsSt. Lawrence University

Fit, follow-up and folly…

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.

Lana KleneCounselorLawrence North High School

Don’t let these mistakes get you down…

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.

Betsy MorganFounderCollege Matters LLC

Spell chick doesn’t check everything…

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.

Bob TillmanDirector of College Placement Creighton Preparatory School

Have a counselor review your app and don’t use nicknames…

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.

Megan DorseySAT Prep & College AdvisorCollege Prep LLC

Most application mistakes are preventable and usually due to procrastination!…

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.

Jon BoeckenstedtAssociate Vice President for Enrollment Policy & PlanningDePaul University

Most mistakes are conceptual, not mechanical…

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.

Robin GroelleFounderCollegeCounselling.com

Procrastination is a big hurdle for many teenagers! …

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).

Whitney BruceIndependent College CounselorAccpeted.com

Time management is critical…

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.  

Pamela EllisPresidentCompass Education Strategies LLC

Top 3 tips for a strong recommendation letter…

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!

Jane ShropshireFounderShropshire Educational Consulting LLC

Avoid mistakes by keeping priorities straight…

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. 

Jim McCorkellCEOAdmission Possible

not writing optional essay, falling prey to sticker shock, not visiting campus…

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.

James LongEducational ConsultantLong Range Success

Pocrastination, missed deadlines, and proofreading…

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.

Steve ThomasDirector of AdmissionsColby College

Pay attention to what is important to you personally…

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.

Susie WattsCollege ConsultantCollege Direction

Three mistakes to avoid with your college admissions essay…

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.

George MillsVice President for EnrollmentUniversity of Puget Sound

Know yourself and take time to build a strong application…

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.

Marjorie GoodeFounderStart Early: College & Career Planning Service

Time management, proper planning, and utilizing professional resources…

(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.

Jill MadenbergIndependent Educational ConsultantPrivate Practice

Pay attention to the details…

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.

Jeannie BorinFounder & PresidentCollege Connections

Watch out for common errors in your application…

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!

王文君 June ScortinoPresidentIVY Counselors Network

Apply schools without strategy

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.

William Chichester

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

Not starting early enough!

Ellen [email protected]OwnerEllen Richards Admissions Consulting

The great 8 for academic success

Indispensible tips for anyone at any time on their scholastic journey. 1) Understand your own motivations for achievement. – Having a real understanding and maintaining awareness of what drives you toward success enables you to construct a clear path to your final goal. 2) Unravel negative perceptions of yourself and academic status. – It’s been said before: an “I can’t” attitude will result in just that. Understand that everyone CAN if given the right tools. Give yourself the advantage of a fresh start and a positive attitude so that you avoid self-defeat before you’ve even started. 3) Recognize your individual needs to succeed and create a learning strategy. – Once you’ve identified the key components of a successful study routine, develop a plan that continuously addresses your personal needs. Depriving yourself of learning essentials is just like saying “I can’t.” 4) Create a non-threatening, supportive and positive learning environment. – Establishing a less intimidating learning environment takes the focus off of academic anxieties and back on the process of learning. Every student responds differently to a given environment. Recognize in which atmosphere you excel the most, and seek it out. 5) Set goals and identify measurable ways of attaining them. – A target objective and a roadmap by which you can reach that achievement create an encouraging, step-by-step process instead of an overwhelming gap between the start and finish line. 6) Plan and organize. – Breaking down large projects into smaller tasks is empowering and inspires a sense of responsibility and accomplishment. 7) Stop procrastinating: preparation is key to success! – Set up a study schedule to prepare for tests rather than attempting to cover too much material in too short of a time. Taking practice tests and familiarizing yourself with test formats will pinpoint your areas of struggle so you can optimize your score. 8) Track your own progress and self-evaluate. – Keeping a personal record of your progress will highlight your improvements as well as those areas that may require more attention. It can be difficult to evaluate your own performance, but written documentation of your progress will help you make an honest determination of your growth.

Sarah ContomichalosManagerEducational Advisory Services, LLC

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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.

Rachel Marx

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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!

Joyce Vining MorganFounder and college counselorEducational Transitions

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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).

Eric ChancySchool CounselorApex High School – 9-12

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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.

Margaret TungStrategistYale University

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

Not doing their homework. Almost everyone has a “dream” school, but here’s the catch: chances are, even if you think you’re qualified, it’s going to add up to the luck of the draw unless you really investigate an opportunity, realize that you love it, and can sell yourself to match. These days, most kids think going to college is a definite, if not guaranteed, possibility. But here’s the thing– 1. Start early. Don’t wait til the month before apps are due to make any decisions. I’d say if you don’t have a list of schools in mind already (and even if you do, you’ll need a reality check), start as early as the end of your junior year. 2. Look in the mirror: what are your stats (GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, etc.)? 3. Who you are: What are your passions? 4. Google is your best friend: search for colleges that are great at what you think you want to be doing, or if you don’t know, look for a school that lets you explore your options in college. And, of course, look at their stats–this isn’t a fairytale, there’s no benefit to falling in love with ONE impossible thing. 5. If you have enough time, talk to people your parents or teachers know who might have gone to those schools. What did they like/not like about the school? Does it sound like a place you’d want to apply? 6. Make a list: what are your reach, match, and safety schools? (again compare your stats and interests to those of the school and remember Ivy Leagues and the top 5 liberal arts colleges, as well as colleges with the best X program in the nation will be reaches for everyone) 7. Ask for your recommendations within the first month of your senior year if you’re applying early–you can wait til the end of October if you’re not applying early. 8. Start your applications early too–that way, if you have any questions you can ask your college counselor.

Eric Beers, Ph.D.College and Career CounselorAir Academy High School

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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.

Nina ScullerDirectorCollege Prep

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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. Another avoidable mistake, and one that most admissions officers will confirm, is not proofreading their application once they do apply.

Dr. Bruce NeimeyerCEO/PartnerGlobal College Search Associates, LLC

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

From all my years of experience several come to mind! 1. The student submits an essay with another colleges name plastered through out the essay. This is really terrible because it conveys to the admissions counselor that you did not take the application very seriously. If you are a boarder line decision, this is not going to help your case at all. 2. The applicants recommendation letter tell me that they would be well served if they were to be admitted to my institution, except they forget to change the school name to “my” school. Dead giveaway to a “form” letter being submitted and it therefore adds no value to the application. In this instance, it tells me that the student did not take the time to select a person to do their recommendation that really care about their success and has a true understand of their abilities. It may not hurt the student in the long run because the bad letter could be out of the control of the student. However, it is a real missed opportunity on the students part to really give another dimension to their admissions application via the recommendation letter. 3. The student fails to track the application pieces and “assumes” it is complete by the stated deadline only to find out that something was missing a month or so later and now is in a terrible pickle! The lesson here is to keep contact tract of your application deadlines and with online tracking available for almost ever college, there is no excuse for not checking on these things early enough to give yourself time to fix any potential application problems before it is too late! 4. Student get admitted and then give up in their high school classes at the end of the senior year. There really isn’t a school around that doesn’t reserve the right to rescind your admissions. In many instances, a significant decline in grades is a giant red flag for a college. You might be lucky enough to still be admitted but are put on probation coming in the door but in other instances, you might loose your admissions and find yourself without a school to attend in the fall. Better to keep plugging away at those classes and stay on track! No need to trip yourself up on purpose! Those are four pretty big and yet very avoidable mistakes that I have witnessed over the years.

Pamela Hampton-GarlandOwnerScholar Bound

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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. Another is not being coginizant of the due dates for materials and ensuring that they have been received.

Pamela Hampton-GarlandOwnerScholar Bound

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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. Another is not being cognizant of the due dates for materials and ensuring that they have been received.

Patricia AviezerPresidentInside Track To College, Inc.

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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? Remedy for all of these mistakes? Start Early and submit before your deadlines!

Dr. Bruce NeimeyerCEO/PartnerGlobal College Search Associates, LLC

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

From all my years of experience several come to mind! 1. The student submits an essay with another colleges name plastered through out the essay. This is really terrible because it conveys to the admissions counselor that you did not take the application very seriously. If you are a boarder line decision, this is not going to help your case at all. 2. The applicants recommendation letter tell me that they would be well served if they were to be admitted to my institution, except they forget to change the school name to “my” school. Dead giveaway to a “form” letter being submitted and it therefore adds no value to the application. In this instance, it tells me that the student did not take the time to select a person to do their recommendation that really care about their success and has a true understand of their abilities. It may not hurt the student in the long run because the bad letter could be out of the control of the student. However, it is a real missed opportunity on the students part to really give another dimension to their admissions application via the recommendation letter. 3. The student fails to track the application pieces and “assumes” it is complete by the stated deadline only to find out that something was missing a month or so later and now is in a terrible pickle! The lesson here is to keep contact tract of your application deadlines and with online tracking available for almost ever college, there is no excuse for not checking on these things early enough to give yourself time to fix any potential application problems before it is too late! 4. Student get admitted and then give up in their high school classes at the end of the senior year. There really isn’t a school around that doesn’t reserve the right to rescind your admissions. In many instances, a significant decline in grades is a giant red flag for a college. You might be lucky enough to still be admitted but are put on probation coming in the door but in other instances, you might loose your admissions and find yourself without a school to attend in the fall. Better to keep plugging away at those classes and stay on track! No need to trip yourself up on purpose! Those are four pretty big and yet very avoidable mistakes that I have witnessed over the years.

Patricia KrahnkePresident/PartnerGlobal College Search Associates, LLC

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

Short Answer: Sixteen, off the top of my head… Detailed Answer: 1. Making assumptions, about anything and everything 2. Believing that because you receive unsolicited information from a college, it means they want you: The fact is, they want your application, so they can count it and reject you so it appears that they are more selective; this is one of the variables that enhances their position in the rankings 3. A lack of understanding of what a “competitive” academic record looks like 4. Blowing off senior year (getting senioritis) because you were already admitted to the college you wanted and “everyone knows senior year grades don’t matter”: If you don’t know what the word “rescind” means, look it up 5. Bullying admissions officers 6. Believing you can “game” the college admissions system at any given institution: The fact is no one but the individuals within the actual meetings that determine the entrance parameters for the cycle each year has any idea what –or why – certain changes are being made to the admissions process; you can’t base your approach to the process this year on what you understand happened last year 7. Broadcasting to your friends that you are applying to the Ivies – then lying and saying you got in, when in fact you were rejected: If you do this, it just makes the end of your senior year embarrassing and painful 8. Relying on parents or high school guidance counselors for information about getting into college: The fact is, they’ve never worked in admissions, so they can’t really help you; guidance counselors mean well, but unless they are in the minority of those who are truly connected to higher ed, then you are out of luck 9. Believing what admissions counselors say who work for the college(s) you are interested in: They are sales people with quotas to meet 10. Believing what your friends tell you – about anything: I’ve witnessed some egregious lying between “BFFs” when it comes to SAT scores and what colleges they got into — ugh. And parents, this goes for you, too, because parents can be just as competitive as the kids. 11. Basing your college search on what your friends or relatives tell you 12. Believing that you will receive scholarship money if you are a low income student: Colleges today spend more on marketing to international students than the amount they provide in aid to low income, non-privileged students 13. Private colleges provide a better education than public colleges: The fact is, many public institutions provide a better education and better connections to internships and careers than private colleges do 14. Public colleges are less expensive than private colleges: Private colleges usually have ginormous endowments, a portion of which is spent on aid; if you do a net price comparison between public and private institutions, as I have, you notice immediately that if you subtract the amount of money from the cost of tuition/room&board, the cost levels off, and publics aren’t that much less money than privates 15. They read all your materials: Some do; most don’t. 16. You can submit the same essay with all applications: That’s one sure way to get tossed out of the pile; read the instructions regarding the essay, and submit what they are requesting of you

Calli ChristensonDirector CLC College Prep Services

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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). Additionally, with the hustle and bustle of application season, students can sometimes forget to request their test scores and official transcripts be sent to colleges. Be sure to apply for these to be sent to schools EARLY. Although some test companies promise to deliver “next-day”, this doesn’t always happen, and the same goes with school offices when sending transcripts. Don’t wait until the last minute to submit these important documents to schools you are applying to.

Dr. Bruce NeimeyerCEO/PartnerGlobal College Search Associates, LLC

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

From all my years of experience several come to mind! 1. The student submits an essay with another colleges name plastered through out the essay. This is really terrible because it conveys to the admissions counselor that you did not take the application very seriously. If you are a boarder line decision, this is not going to help your case at all. 2. The applicants recommendation letter tell me that they would be well served if they were to be admitted to my institution, except they forget to change the school name to “my” school. Dead giveaway to a “form” letter being submitted and it therefore adds no value to the application. In this instance, it tells me that the student did not take the time to select a person to do their recommendation that really care about their success and has a true understand of their abilities. It may not hurt the student in the long run because the bad letter could be out of the control of the student. However, it is a real missed opportunity on the students part to really give another dimension to their admissions application via the recommendation letter. 3. The student fails to track the application pieces and “assumes” it is complete by the stated deadline only to find out that something was missing a month or so later and now is in a terrible pickle! The lesson here is to keep contact tract of your application deadlines and with online tracking available for almost ever college, there is no excuse for not checking on these things early enough to give yourself time to fix any potential application problems before it is too late! 4. Student get admitted and then give up in their high school classes at the end of the senior year. There really isn’t a school around that doesn’t reserve the right to rescind your admissions. In many instances, a significant decline in grades is a giant red flag for a college. You might be lucky enough to still be admitted but are put on probation coming in the door but in other instances, you might loose your admissions and find yourself without a school to attend in the fall. Better to keep plugging away at those classes and stay on track! No need to trip yourself up on purpose! Those are four pretty big and yet very avoidable mistakes that I have witnessed over the years.

Ivery McKnight

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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.

Emily Bloom

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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!

Renee Boone

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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! Students may inadvertently omit portions of the required documents or responses because they have not created a plan or system for a completely submitting the application. Outlines and checklists can help you avoid incomplete applications. Although it is acceptable to re-use themes and ideas in submitting essays to different colleges, it is imperative that your responses make sense to the particular application at hand. Please do not submit your answer to LMU’s supplement directly to U Washington without fact-checking and editing for appropriateness. If you want to major in Accountancy and the college you are applying to offers general Business Administration, you will not make a good impression if you cannot show the admission committee how their BusAd major relates specifically to your narrower interests and goals. Consider spell-checking with the help of a dictionary rather than relying on an automatic computer spell check program. Context may not be clear to the computer but using your brain may lead you to your errors that can be corrected before you submit your work. If you avoid reading the Mission Statement on the college website or in the view book, you miss an opportunity to discover the college’s goals and objectives. Are they in line with your goals and objectives? Do you see a fit or are you not particularly interested in becoming the kind of person that will make University X proud? Avoiding the clues can lead to costly mistakes. Although we must reach for what we want in life, applying to a slew of colleges that are outside of our reach leaves the impression that you do not know your own strengths and weaknesses, that you are fishing rather than making purposeful, carefully considered decisions or that you are not taking the process seriously. Develop a list of colleges that makes sense!

Renee Boone

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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! Students may inadvertently omit portions of the required documents or responses because they have not created a plan or system for a completely submitting the application. Outlines and checklists can help you avoid incomplete applications. Although it is acceptable to re-use themes and ideas in submitting essays to different colleges, it is imperative that your responses make sense to the particular application at hand. Please do not submit your answer to LMU’s supplement directly to U Washington without fact-checking and editing for appropriateness. If you want to major in Accountancy and the college you are applying to offers general Business Administration, you will not make a good impression if you cannot show the admission committee how their BusAd major relates specifically to your narrower interests and goals. Consider spell-checking with the help of a dictionary rather than relying on an automatic computer spell check program. Context may not be clear to the computer but using your brain may lead you to your errors that can be corrected before you submit your work. If you avoid reading the Mission Statement on the college website or in the view book, you miss an opportunity to discover the college’s goals and objectives. Are they in line with your goals and objectives? Do you see a fit or are you not particularly interested in becoming the kind of person that will make University X proud? Avoiding the clues can lead to costly mistakes. Although we must reach for what we want in life, applying to a slew of colleges that are outside of our reach leaves the impression that you do not know your own strengths and weaknesses, that you are fishing rather than making purposeful, carefully considered decisions or that you are not taking the process seriously. Develop a list of colleges that makes sense!

Karen O’Neill, MSEdCounselorKSO College Counselling

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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. 2. NO TYPOS NO TYPOS NO TYPOS! A great way to have your parent/family member/teacher/counselor help you on your college admissions is to have them proofread your essay and application materials. 3. Filenames. Take care when naming electronic files. Make sure that any essay or resume you submit has not been named as a different college than the current one you are submitting files to. 4. Your cell phone voice mail, email address, twitter account, facebook, other social media. Keep them all clean. Open a new gmail account for the college application process. [email protected] Not – [email protected] Check out all your social media and make sure its squeaky clean enough to make your grandmother proud. Scholarships and offers of admissions are at stake. And regarding your voice mail — make sure you clean out your voice mail box regularly. You don’t want to miss a message. And your voice mail message should not freak out the coach who may be calling you! 5. Don’t be a stealth applicant. If you are interested in a school, LET THEM KNOW! Email them. Thank them after you visit (email or handwritten note). It helps them if they know you are a viable candidate.

Jessica BrondoFounder and CEOThe Edge in College Prep

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

– 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!!!

Patty Finer

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

Decide that there is only one “right” college. Only look at colleges your best friend is looking at. Choose a college based on the quality of their athletic teams. Rely on the rankings in news magazines. Go to college where your girl/boy friend is going. Choose a college because it is the last place mom or dad want you to go Apply to colleges that you don’t really like because you think it will make your parents proud or impress your friends. Go to the college with the best party scene. Choose a college without investigating campus safety. Look only at colleges within 50 miles of where you live. Too shy to ask questions. Don’t examine who you are and what you want from a college. Consider the cost of the college in deciding where to apply. Don’t visit a college or a similar type of college before applying. Assume that all colleges are the same. Consider only colleges that mom or dad attended. Let the choice just happen instead of taking charge of your future. Choose a college based on whether the student body is attractive. Believe that the harder a college is to get into, the better it must be. Apply only to prestigious colleges. Rely on someone else’s opinion. Rely on a college’s advertising. Misjudge your ability to get admitted to a particular college. Ignore the resources you have available to help. Don’t adequately investigate your college choices.

Patty Finer

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

Decide that there is only one “right” college. Only look at colleges your best friend is looking at. Choose a college based on the quality of their athletic teams. Rely on the rankings in news magazines. Go to college where your girl/boy friend is going. Choose a college because it is the last place mom or dad want you to go Apply to colleges that you don’t really like because you think it will make your parents proud or impress your friends. Go to the college with the best party scene. Choose a college without investigating campus safety. Look only at colleges within 50 miles of where you live. Too shy to ask questions. Don’t examine who you are and what you want from a college. Consider the cost of the college in deciding where to apply. Don’t visit a college or a similar type of college before applying. Assume that all colleges are the same. Consider only colleges that mom or dad attended. Let the choice just happen instead of taking charge of your future. Choose a college based on whether the student body is attractive. Believe that the harder a college is to get into, the better it must be. Apply only to prestigious colleges. Rely on someone else’s opinion. Rely on a college’s advertising. Misjudge your ability to get admitted to a particular college. Ignore the resources you have available to help. Don’t adequately investigate your college choices.

Renee Boone

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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! Students may inadvertently omit portions of the required documents or responses because they have not created a plan or system for a completely submitting the application. Outlines and checklists can help you avoid incomplete applications. Although it is acceptable to re-use themes and ideas in submitting essays to different colleges, it is imperative that your responses make sense to the particular application at hand. Please do not submit your answer to LMU’s supplement directly to U Washington without fact-checking and editing for appropriateness. If you want to major in Accountancy and the college you are applying to offers general Business Administration, you will not make a good impression if you cannot show the admission committee how their BusAd major relates specifically to your narrower interests and goals. Consider spell-checking with the help of a dictionary rather than relying on an automatic computer spell check program. Context may not be clear to the computer but using your brain may lead you to your errors that can be corrected before you submit your work. If you avoid reading the Mission Statement on the college website or in the view book, you miss an opportunity to discover the college’s goals and objectives. Are they in line with your goals and objectives? Do you see a fit or are you not particularly interested in becoming the kind of person that will make University X proud? Avoiding the clues can lead to costly mistakes. Although we must reach for what we want in life, applying to a slew of colleges that are outside of our reach leaves the impression that you do not know your own strengths and weaknesses, that you are fishing rather than making purposeful, carefully considered decisions or that you are not taking the process seriously. Develop a list of colleges that makes sense!

Bill PrudenHead of Upper School, College CounselorRavenscroft School

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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.

Lora LewisEducational ConsultantLora Lewis Consulting

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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.

Michelle AronoffGuidance Counselor

Keep your grades up!

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.

Sandy McMasterCollege Admissions ConsultantMy College Hunt, LLC

Avoidable mistakes:

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.

Corey FischerPresidentCollegeClarity

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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. Another big mistake is putting too much value on friends opinions. The college that is right for one student is not right for every student, so students need to form their own opinions about a college.

Hannah SerotaCollege Counselor/Idependent Educational Consultant McLean School/Creative College Connections

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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.

Carita Del ValleFounderAcademic Decisions

Thinking “you won’t get into a good 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!

Kristen ShambargerSchool Counselor

If you snooze, you lose!

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. If you wait to take your SAT’s and/or ACT’s, you might only have one chance to take them before your college deadlines. That means you won’t have the opportunity to see your weak spots and work on improving them. Also, keep in mind that your scores take several weeks to process, and many colleges will only consider scores that they have received by their deadline. So many seniors wait until the night before their college applications are due to submit them online. There are several problems when you do this. For starters, you could run into questions about the application but don’t have time to ask your counselor to clarify. You might forget to list some awards that you earned in the past, or activities you were involved in. Your essay will be rushed, and you won’t have time for another person (like an English teacher) to give you feedback. Lastly, you might find out too late that the college requires a recommendation or SAT Subject tests. Speaking of recommendations, don’t delay in asking for those either! The more time you give someone to write a recommendation for you, the better job that person can do. And it’s just the polite thing to do. After all, it typically takes 1-2 hours of that person’s time to write the recommendation for you!

Angela ConleyCollege Admission ExpertVentureForth

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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. Another concern often observed in the process are applications submitted through the “snap app” approach. This typically involves responding to solicitations applying to school which one might not otherwise have considered. Finally, students who are swayed more by namebrand than by a colleges’ fit for their goals and interests. Approaching the process with an eye towards making your chosen college your “home,” whether for two or four years changes the emphasis from impressing friends to finding your best match.

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What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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. 2. Not proofreading your essay. As seemingly obvious as this is, some students submit poorly proofread essays. 3. Having your parents do all the work for you. In my time as an Admission Counselor, there was nothing more annoying than students who just didn’t ever say or do anything with regard to the college admission process and instead just had their parents do everything for them. This is a sign of immaturity, laziness, and apathy.

Diana HansonCommon Sense College CounselingCollege Mentors

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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. Now, a student who is applying to all three, using the Common App, writes an essay about her aspirations to become a mechanical engineer, and when submitting to Favorite U, she ends the essay, “…and that is why studying engineering at Interesting U is my goal.” Oops. Careful proofreading of each essay–even when it’s on the Common App–could have prevented this error, which may compromise the student’s admission chances to Favorite U.

Mark CorkeryHead College CounselorInternational College Admissions Network (I-CAN)

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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. Much of the stress of college admission today is because students often say they will go to a good college that will admit them. Since admission is often unpredictable, that initial question makes for bad decisions out of the starting gate. Best to start with researching colleges from many different perspectives so as to have a diverse number of colleges on the application list that are reaches, mid ranges, and safeties — all of which would be good options for the student.

Rohit GoyalIvy League CounselorHarvard University

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

Lack of organization and prioritization of the application, choosing the recommender, University selection, errors in essays, interview preparation etc.

Randi HeathmanIndependent Educational ConsultantThe Equestrian College Advisor LLC

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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!

ELISE BUNDY

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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!

Mark GathercoleUniversity AdvisorIndependent University Advising

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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!

Inna BeilinaStudent

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

They are trying to be cleverer than themselves in their application; They apply to only one school out of a few thousands.

Heather TomaselloWriting CoachThe EssayLady, LLC

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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. Another mistake was not seeking out the best fit school in the first place. Too often, I saw students motivated by pressure from parents, or other influences. They chose a school based on where their friends were going as opposed to the best choice for their intended course of study.

Inna BeilinaStudent

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

They are trying to be clever than themselves in their application; They apply to only one school out of a few thousands.

Inna BeilinaStudent

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

They are trying to be clever than themselves in their application; They apply to only one school out of a few thousands.

Ronald Harris

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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.

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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! Another mistake that is made from time to time (hopefully not TOO often) is that, in using the same essay for several different institutions, a student may inadvertently leave a reference to one institution in an essay which he/she is sending to another. A statement of how much you love Institution A is not going to be very well received if you send it to Institution B. Be sure to edit your essays carefully to make sure that they are specifically tailored to the institutions to which they will be sent. For the general essays which are part of the Common Application, you will have to formulate your ideas so that they are appealing to all the institutions to which they will be sent without mentioning specific schools.

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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! Another mistake that is made from time to time (hopefully not TOO often) is that, in using the same essay for several different institutions, a student may inadvertently leave a reference to one institution in an essay which he/she is sending to another. A statement of how much you love Institution A is not going to be very well received if you send it to Institution B. Be sure to edit your essays carefully to make sure that they are specifically tailored to the institutions to which they will be sent. For the general essays which are part of the Common Application, you will have to formulate your ideas so that they are appealing to all the institutions to which they will be sent without mentioning specific schools.

Jamey Becker

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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. The last step that can be done in advance is the college essay. The best essays I read each year are the ones constructed over the summer and that have been edited multiple times. With the growing number of applications each college receives each year, the college essay has become increasingly more important as a way of making a personal, unique, and lasting impression. Bottom line- get started early and do no wait until the 12th grade.

Tyler BurtonPresident Burton College Tours

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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.

Tyler BurtonPresident Burton College Tours

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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.

Eric Scheele

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

Some of the most simple mistakes to avoid are: 1) Having a timeline/knowing the timeline and sticking to it so that you avoid being late or having to rush. 2) Knowing all fot he required documents ahead of time for each school and their due dates. 3) Make sure you visit schools so that you know if you want o apply or not, why waste your time and money if you don’t actually want to attend or won’t be a good candidate.

Kathleen GriffinOwnerAmerican College Strategies

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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.

Lin Johnson III

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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.

Lin Johnson III

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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.

Amberley WolfCollege ConsultantWolf College Consulting

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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). Another common mistake is writing like you are texting. Many students forget to capitalize letters and many use words like “ur” instead of “your.” When you do not proof-read your applications, it shows that you do not care (and they will potentially think that you are lazy and do not take college seriously).

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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.

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.

What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

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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