10 Common College Application Mistakes


If you are an incoming high school senior, you’re probably already thinking about your college admission applications. As summer winds down and students get ready to head back to school, now is a good time to start narrowing down your list of potential schools and start working on your admission essays. While some of the college admission applications will have similar requirements, be sure to treat each as a separate entity, carefully reviewing all necessary documentation and deadlines required for admissions. Unfortunately, some students rush through the process, making simple mistakes that may mean the difference between being denied or being accepted. Here are 10 of the most common college application mistakes that you should try to avoid.
  1. Grammatical Errors

    Your teachers have drilled this into you for years — always double-check your work! Whether it’s a paper for English class, a scholarship essay, or your college application packet, be sure to have someone review your work and check for grammatical errors.
  2. Sign on the Dotted Line

    Believe it or not, some students neglect to sign their applications in the appropriate locations. Be sure to review all forms, paper and online, to ensure you have provided a signature where it is required.
  3. Do the Work Yourself

    It’s okay to include mom and dad in the college admission process, but when it comes to completing your college admission application and essay, do the work yourself. College admission officers are very savvy and know when a parent has submitted the work. Don’t give them any additional reasons for rejecting your application by allowing someone else to complete your application.
  4. Don’t Embellish

    When it comes time to list your extracurricular activities and volunteer work, try not to exaggerate. Some colleges will check with your school to confirm your participation in any clubs, organizations and activities listed on your applications. They may also contact any organizations you list for volunteer services. Honesty is always the best policy.
  5. Be Professional

    A common error on admission applications is students using their personal emails for correspondence. If your email handle is [email protected], what message is that sending to the admission staff? Instead, create a separate email account for business purposes, keeping it simple and professional.
  6. Don’t Procrastinate

    You may need several letters of recommendation for your college admission applications. Don’t wait until a week or two before the deadline to ask teachers, mentors, and business associates for their help. Try to give everyone six to eight weeks notice to ensure he/she has time to ask questions or revise, if needed. Remember, you probably won’t be the only student seeking their help.
  7. Give Your Guidance Counselor the Heads Up

    Some students neglect to keep their high school guidance counselors in the loop. Whether you submit by paper or online, it’s important to give your counselor the list of colleges that you have applied to so he/she can submit transcripts, volunteer hours, and other required documentation to the schools. If your guidance counselor is unaware of where you have applied, a delay in submitting forms may prevent you from receiving certain financial aid or gaining early admission.
  8. Which College is This?

    If you plan to use the same admission essay for several college applications, be sure to review your essay before submitting it. It probably won’t help your chances for admission if you are writing about how much you want to attend Stanford University when you actually submitted your application to the University of Michigan. It may be a little more work, but treating each college essay separately will ensure you give each the full attention it deserves.
  9. Check Facebook

    More college admission officers seem to be heading over to Facebook to look at potential applicants. Be sure to take down any inappropriate posts and photos, and keep vulgar language off your wall. Like it or not, some people may judge a book by its cover, or in this case, your Facebook profile.
  10. Hit Submit

    After you have compiled all your documentation and written your admission essay, be sure to hit submit for any online applications. If your application was processed correctly, you should receive a confirmation email, a pop-up page, or message in your student account. You should also contact the admission office within 24 to 48 hours to verify your application was received.
If you take the time now to review college admission requirements, gather the necessary documentation, and write your college admission essays, you’ll be in great shape by the time admission deadlines roll around. Now is a great time to start the process, alleviating the stress of having to rush through things at the last minute later this fall. Not only will you feel more relaxed about the process, but you are also less likely to make some of the common mistakes which could derail your chances for admission.

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