Five Mistakes To Avoid When Completing your College Applications

05/03/20203 minute read
Five Mistakes To Avoid When Completing your College Applications

With application season in full swing, applying to college can be a stressful, time-consuming and frustrating all at the same time.

Even if you plan 3, 6, 12 months ahead of the application due dates, deadlines sneak up, essays require changes and details get missed.

Check out these 5 application no-no’s provided by university admissions officers to ensure you don’t make these mistakes on your college applications to Harvard, MIT, Stanford and other top universities across the US.

1. Not telling your story

Often times, students get too caught up on a specific scene or role model. Instead of spending time detailing what your grandfather wore the day he took you on a fishing trip that changes your perspective on global warming, talk about what it is your grandpa did to change your perspective.

Gary Clark, director of undergraduate admission at UCLA says, “The essay needs to offer new insight into the candidate.”

2. Not letting your voice be heard

By no means should you submit an essay without having an editor look it over (more than twice), but be sure throughout rounds and rounds of editing, your voice remains consistent, vibrant and apparent throughout.

Rick Clark, director of undergraduate admission at Georgia Tech and co-author of The Truth About College Admission: A Family Guide to Getting In and Staying Together says,“Sometimes the best editor is a parent, someone you trust. But students need to watch for when an editor becomes a second author. I tell students that even in your high school you can think of someone who basically has the same grades, classes, and test scores as you do and is just as involved with their activities. The essay is your opportunity to separate yourself, to insert your voice. Don’t let someone rob you of the very thing that we are looking for: that unique, personal voice. I think parents can unintentionally do that.”

3. Being unreachable

Always use one, legal name, i.e. if you’re legal name is Harrison but your nickname is Harry, use Harrison throughout your application. Use only one email account (that you have access to) and one point of contact, i.e. your cell number. Admissions officers often email and call students. Colleges may email you something urgent, so be sure you are checking your cell and email regularly.

4. Asking the wrong teacher for a recommendation

Rick Clark urges students to “ask for recommendations from the teacher who knows you best and can share insight into your growth as a student (maybe you had them in the ninth and 11th grades), your work ethic, endeavor, resilience and character. Students are often tempted to ask the teacher who gave them the best grade, but that information is already on the transcript.”

5. Extracurricular activities

Remember, it’s all about quality not quantity when listing your extracurriculars. Many colleges consider “demonstrated interests” in their admission decision, so it’s important to include clubs, leadership positions, etc. that relate to your major or college that you are applying to.