When filling out multiple college applications, they can all begin to blend together, and you may find that each application and each college starts to look like the other. Be vigilant so you don’t make careless mistakes that will affect your admission changes. Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly made mistakes by students on their college applications:
1. Proofread your application before you submit.
In this age of technology and texting, capitalization, punctuation and grammar have fallen by the wayside. Remember, your college applications are representations of who you are and are your chances to make a great first impression on colleges’ admissions officers. Don’t depend solely on spell check to catch your mistakes – many words may not be misspelled, but might still be incorrect (i.e. “from” vs. “form”, “but” vs. “buy”, “to the” vs. “to the”)! Spell check also can’t ensure that you’ve included the correct school’s name in your personal statements so always double and triple check! Make sure that you actually proofread your complete application (meaning EVERYTHING, not just the essay) before submitting.
2. Talk about yourself. Be yourself.
While you could have a great story about your grandfather, cat, friend, mother, teacher, etc. that you really want to share, do not lose sight of the primary purpose of your application: to show the admissions officer who you are and why they should admit you into their college. Don’t worry about attempting to write something that you think admissions officers want to hear; instead, write an authentic story that makes a compelling argument for why this school should admit you, while also showcasing your interests, passions and personality. Most students will start actively using the thesaurus to use words that make them sound smarter in their writings, but this can come across as awkward and unnatural. Find your true voice and use it.
3. Submit a well-written personal statement.
The personal statement is your one chance to provide the college with a voice that is uniquely yours. Use this personal statement to give the school valuable information about you that is nowhere else in your application – each part of your application should provide the reader with new insight as to who you are. Nobody wants to read the same information over and over again! Read the essay prompts carefully and make sure you answer the questions being asked. Each word on that application should be full of purpose and information – you will have strict word limits so make sure you choose ones that count!
4. Create a professional email address and actually check it.
Again, making a first impression is extremely important in the college admissions process and you want to be sure that your email address isn’t a deterrent to your admissions. Refrain from using your your “sexychick101” or “womanizer123” email addresses and create a more professional email address for all of your college communications. Check this email address often, since colleges are now using email more and more to communicate with applicants. When you receive a request for more information from the admissions office, respond promptly and professionally, and in completing your applications, double check that your email address is actually correct! You want to make sure that firstname.lastname@example.org is receiving your email and not email@example.com!
5. Know your legal name.
You may be known as “Bob” to all your friends and may have never been referred to by any other name growing up, however, on your legal documentation, your name may actually be “Robert”. Make sure the name you use on your standardized tests (SAT, ACT, AP, etc.) and application matches your authentic legal documentation (i.e. social security card or passport) from the beginning of your application. If you input this incorrectly, it will take a lot of time to rectify the error, and your documents might not be properly connected to your submitted application.
6. Send all the proper documents to the college.
Just because you hit “submit” on your application doesn’t mean that you are completely finished. You might still need to send in standardized test scores, mid-year reports, and final transcripts directly to the colleges at some point during the admissions process. Because most of these items demand an extra step on your part, it is quite easy to completely forget about them. Applications for financial aid are also often separate from college applications, and missing those deadlines may mean a loss of access additional funding for your education.
7. Don’t wait until the last minute!
Life can be very busy and the college application deadlines will come faster than you think. Resist the urge to wait until the last minute to work on your applications – a quality application takes time to develop and the process will require a good amount of self-analysis and introspection, all things that should not be rushed. Give yourself plenty of time to work on your applications and start early! In addition, pay attention to application deadlines and correctly calculate the time difference between them. To be safe, we recommend you submit your application at least a few days before the hard deadline. You never know when the application site will crash, or some unexpected circumstance will prevent you from submitting on time.
Veritas Prep is an elite test preparation company specializing in SAT and ACT prep, as well as college admissions consulting. At Veritas Prep, we offer an extensive array of in-person, live online, self-study, and private tutoring options for students from instructors who have all scored in the top 1% of test takers. For over a decade, we have worked with students helping them to excel on standardized exams, allowing them greater opportunities to be accepted into their top-tier dream schools, pursue higher education opportunities, and expand their academic knowledge.