4 Warning Signs Your College Application Will Fail and How to Avoid Them

19 FEB 2017

You have no time or room to learn from your mistakes on college applications. Once you hit submit - that's it. Your destiny is now in the hands of college admissions officers.

You'll have no way of knowing whether your college application is good enough. No way to ease the agonising anxiety that comes with waiting for your college admission results to arrive.

The only thing you can do is start preparing your application now and avoid all the common mistakes.

Mistakes our ex-admissions officers used to see all the time.

To help get you started, here are four warning signs your college application essay is going to fail. Make sure you're avoiding all of them.

Big Mistake 1

Your academic scores are near-perfect, but your application lacks personality.

Fail 1

This is one of the most common mistakes made by hopeful US college applicants.

Often students feel they have to write to what the college admissions officers want, not show them who they are outside of the academic bubble. The first big mistake.

Ultimately, what you’re trying to do is separate yourself from the masses and show the college what your personality can bring to the campus. While academic grades prove you are capable of completing a degree, they don’t share any of your passions, interests, or motivations.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the purpose of you college application is to show off your personality, your initiative and how you'll contribute to making the college a more vibrant and exciting place.

The best sections of your application to display personality are your extracurriculars and your college application essay.

The term extracurriculars is vague, and deliberately so. You could be a debater or a popular video game reviewer, you may have started a company or you may have completed an internship, you may have ran 2 marathons that changed your life or you may have volunteered at an old person home - you get the gist.

Extracurriculars can be any number of achievements. The only thing they have to do is show you dream college a little slice of you!

With your application essay, it’s important to write from a genuine place - even if that advice is a little trite. Trying to write an essay to please someone will never come across as strongly as an essay written in earnest.

You must make sure there is a key message in everything you write, you mustn’t be too cryptic, just honest.

Through your extracurriculars and your essay, you should paint a clear picture of who you are, why you’re applying for the university and what you can bring to campus. Your perfect SAT scores and your high GPA can not penetrate the process like showing off your personality will.

Remember, plenty of people will be submitting applications with grades as good, if not better than yours.

Big Mistake 2

Your confidence is coming off as arrogance

Fail 2

While it’s important to sell yourself and remain genuine, you must tow the line between confidence and arrogance.

Coming off as arrogant, despite your impressive GPA or near-perfect SAT score, will leave a bad taste in the mouth of admissions officers.

Your application is likely to be waitlisted, which is not where you want to be.

The waitlist follows Terminator rules: It only goes one-way and there's no coming back.

In 2014, Stanford waitlisted 659 students with only seven eventually gaining admission.

That’s it, just seven.

The best way to avoid the waitlist into your dream college is to have an expert read over your application before you hit submit. If you know an ex-admissions officer - that's a bonus - but even just a trusted friend or mentor who can give it a good eye over will help.

Big Mistake 3

You've left it too late. No research, no entry!

Fail 3

Preparing early sounds so obvious, but so many applicants fail to do so. In your final year of high school, it’s so easy to forget about college applications until the last minute when all exams are completed.


Take your time to prepare your application and research your dream college.

If you know all of the ins and outs of your perfect school, what they’re looking for in an applicant and what’s expected of you on your application, then crafting your application to meet those expectations becomes a breeze.

If you’re cramming all the requirements in at last minute, you’re booking a one way ticket to reject town!

Start as early as possible. You should be researching your dream college well before your final exams, well before you receive your results and well before you are required to submit.

Hell, it's never soon enough. College application preparation can begin before you even start high school!

Big Mistake 4

You're not getting the right help.

Fail 4

Without throwing any one under the bus, when it comes to college applications, the right help is hard to find.

Often students look to their peers, parents or school career advisors for help and most of the time they know no more than the student themselves!

Getting the right people to look at your application before you submit can be the difference between admission and rejection.

Obviously the best people to get advice from are current admissions officer, but they're hard to come by, so the second best are former admissions officers.

In their time, they'll have seen thousands upon thousands of college applications and know exactly how to stand out, helping you gain admission.

Final Thoughts...

There are many reasons your college application might stand-out, but unfortunately, there are many more that can make your application fall flat.

The best way to improve your application and gain admission into your dream college is to start preparing early, do your research and get help from the right people.

Now you've had a read about the best practices to ensure you don't fail your college application, why not find out some more helpful tips? Contact one of our team for a free consultation service where we can discuss your options?

Getting students placed in the top universities and colleges around the world is our specialty, we've placed thousands of students from all countries. Let's talk.

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