Some mistakes on college applications are worse than others. Sometimes the most frustrating mistakes are the ones that were so easy to avoid. We’ve rounded up a checklist to make sure you’re set up for success.
Here are the top 10 application miscues that can hurt your chances but, frankly, are easy to avoid.
1. Does any part of your application resemble a text message?
Capitalization, punctuation and complete sentences are your friends. Please use them properly.
2. Do your essays use any words you used a thesaurus to find?
Thesaurus words sound like they came, well, from a thesaurus.
3. Did your parents write any part of the application or essays for you?
It will be obvious if they did.
4. Did you self-report any of your classes or grades incorrectly?
If a college asks you to report this information, don’t even attempt it without your official transcript in hand.
5. Did you make excuses for things that were definitely your fault?
If you told them the “C” you got in Spanish was because of a “personality conflict with your teacher,” you’re making this mistake. You also probably won’t win.
6. Does your essay about why you want to attend the school reference the wrong school?
It’s surprisingly common mistake for students recycling essays from other applications.
7. Are you reusing an essay from another school that doesn’t actually answer this particular prompt?
Revise or start over. Don’t just recycle essays.
8. Did you rely on spell check without a human to back it up?
Spell check doesn’t catch everything. Find a good human editor to double check your work.
9. Are you including extra materials the college didn’t ask you to send?
Did you attach extra letters of recommendation, a resume, a DVD, an art project, a live reptile that you think best represents you, etc.? Unless they ask (and some colleges some do), assume they don’t want it.
10. Did you use light-hearted questions as an opportunity to humble brag?
If the question is: “What’s something you do just for fun?” it might be a bad time to answer: “I sincerely enjoy performing over 100 hours of community service at the hospital”? Everything has its time and place.