With admit rates at historic lows and more students applying to more colleges than ever, it’s important for students to make sure they’re submitting the best applications possible. Regular decision deadlines are approaching, and as students work to finish up their college applications there are a number of last-minute applications mistakes that they should be mindful to avoid.
Before entering the final stretch of the college application process, take time to make sure you’re not making these common application mistakes.
When applying to a balanced list of colleges, students are bound to encounter one or two supplemental essay prompts that are pretty similar. It’s easy to hit copy-paste and move on, but students do themselves a disservice when they repurpose essays. Many times they don’t check that they’ve removed details like school names, specific courses, etc. It’s impossible to count how many times students have submitted an essay to one college with the name of another college in the first line. Treat every college you’re applying to as a first-choice, and take the time to address every prompt individually.
Relying too much on spell check.
Spelling and grammar mistakes can tarnish an otherwise stellar essay. While a few mistakes here and there won’t kill your application, it will make a reader wonder about your attention to detail and whether or not you took applying to that college seriously. Grammar errors can be hard to catch in word processors, and many wont recognize spelling errors like “collage” instead of “college.” Take time to proofread every essay and even let a teacher, counselor, or parent review your essays as well to catch any errors you might have overlooked. It’s a simple step that can do a lot to improve your application.
Not double-checking that all materials have been submitted.
There’s a lot to keep up with when applying to college, and it’s easy for many students to put in a request for a transcript or test scores to be sent to colleges only to forget to follow up on it. Make an effort to ensure that those materials have been sent and that the college received them. This can be as simple as making a phone call, sending an email, or checking your application portal.
Not reading directions.
This is one of the biggest mistakes that students make, and it’s one of the easiest to avoid. Make sure to carefully read every instruction given on the application and make sure you’re providing the correct information. This can be as simple as filling out identifying information wrong, like your home or school information, or providing materials that the college didn’t ask for. For example, if a college says to upload a one-page resume, don’t provide a three, or even two, page document. Colleges have thousands of applications to go through, and when students don’t follow directions or make careless errors it sets them back, and can negatively affect applications.
If horseback riding is the top activity on a student’s application and he or she wrote a supplemental essay about it, it’s not the best idea to write a personal statement about horseback riding, too. Colleges want to get to know applicants, so it’s important to use the essays and other components to let admissions officers learn something new about you. Don’t give information in your essay that’s highlighted throughout the rest of the application. Avoid being redundant and instead give some insight into other aspects of your life.
Waiting until the zero hour to hit ‘submit.’
The Common Application is no stranger to technical difficulties. If students wait until the literal last minute to submit their applications, and there are technical problems, this can be a serious issue. Students can run the risk of missing deadlines or submitting incomplete applications. Aim to submit your applications a few days before the deadline, so that you have time to work out any technical issues, problems with submission, or incomplete materials.
Not asking for help.
Students are encouraged to own the college application process. They should take control and be in charge when applying to college, but it’s ok to seek help when they need it. If you’re struggling or have a question, don’t be afraid to approach your college counselor for help. They’re there to help guide you through the process, so if you’re unable to first find the answer or solution on your own, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. If additional application support is needed, don’t hesitate to seek the guidance of college counselors like the team of experts at IvyWise. Many students choose to supplement the support of their school counselor with the expertise of an independent college counselor. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you need it.
As the regular application deadlines approach, be sure to stay mindful of common application mistakes and ensure that you’re avoiding them. If you need additional application support, contact us today for more information on services for high school seniors.
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