The Six Worst College Application Mistakes

The Six Worst College Application Mistakes

We are officially in the midst of the college application and admissions season! Millions of students across the world have been and will be submitting applications. And while technology is making submitting easier, there is still room for human error.

Below are the six worst college application mistakes that you want to avoid before you hit SEND!

    1. Misspelling your own name. Make sure that your name is spelled correctly on all your applications and official documents Simple typos and misspellings – Daneil versus Daniel, Cathy versus Kathy, or Smith versus Smiht – can cause colleges to think that two different people exist. Problems can also arise when you alternate between your full name and nickname. My advice, pick one name, use it consistently throughout the application and spell it correctly. The consequence of a mistake will be colleges will have a harder time completing your files. Incomplete files do not get read. So triple check even the basic information – name, address, social security number and birth date. In the same vein, make sure that your email address is correct and while we are at it – appropriate.

    1. Ignoring application deadlines. There is absolutely no reason for a student to not know when an application is due. These deadlines are plastered across the college’s undergraduate/freshmen application website pages. If you miss a deadline, do not bother to apply to that college. In fact some colleges close their application websites and it will be impossible to submit. It is not urban legend that websites slow down and server’s crash. This happens every year with multiple colleges.Submit early to avoid the stress of seeing your application timeout each time you try to submit.
      Storms can and have knocked down Internet and power lines for days at a time. While many schools on the East Coast extend their early application deadlines because of storms, don’t expect that this will always happen. And if you live in an area unaffected by these extreme weather conditions – do NOT take advantage of the extended deadlines. Also, remember that deadlines for scholarship, interviews, and special programs might be earlier than the regular admissions due dates.
    2. Not previewing your college application before submission. Many applications will allow you to type as much as you want into different fields – especially essay boxes. However, you should complete a PDF view not only of the essay, but the full application, to make sure that all your answers show up. If you don’t see your responses there, the admissions officer will also not see them. Also, keep essays to the length guidelines specified by individual colleges. If you are unsure, contact the admissions office for specific information.

    1. Copy and paste disasters. You may have written several essays about why you want to attend a specific school or study a certain major. And some of those essays may be similar. But do not accidentally tell Santa Clara University that you are really excited by the opportunities available at Boston University. Or tell Cornell about the amazing programs at Carnegie Mellon.
      Admissions officers understand that you are applying to more than their college. They, however, don’t need to know the details and that another school is your number one choice. This is a mistake that is made repeatedly and one that annoys admissions officers the most. If you don’t take the ten minutes to check your application, you are sending the signal that you don’t care about the school to which you are applying.
    2. Not submitting all parts of the application. If you are applying through the Universal College Application or Common Application and do not submit the supplemental questions and/or essays, your application is incomplete. And if you miss the deadline, you will not have a second chance to send them in. Don’t forget to send official test scores from ACT and SAT testing centers, transcripts from all high schools you have attended when requested by the receiving college, and recommendation letters as required by individual universities.

  1. Sending in additional materials. I know it is tempting to send in copies of the certificates you have received since elementary school or the 20-page research paper you wrote in your history class, but refrain unless a school specifically will accept it. This also refers to letters of recommendation. I know you might have ten people that can write you great letters, but colleges simply do not want to read letters that all say the same thing. Follow the guidelines on how many letters you can send.

The most important rule is to follow directions. Not doing so sends the wrong message to the admissions office. And since your application is the first formal interaction you will most likely have with any school, it is better to start things off on the right foot.

If you have any questions about selecting a college, or the admissions process, feel free to contact me through my website at  or call me at 760.877.7200.  I’d love to answer your questions!

Andi Frimmer

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