Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
With application deadlines around the corner and stress levels running high, it’s possible to miss a pertinent piece of the application puzzle. Here are 10 mistakes students often make, and which you should avoid, as you work through the college application:
1. Research – Failing to dig deeper.In order to pack the right punch in your application, demonstrate that you have researched the school. This includes showcasing learnings from college fairs, university visits, webinars, students, faculty and alumni interactions, and going beyond the website.
2. College Selection - Choosing colleges based on ranking and not fit.You need to identify and evaluate other criteria too. Some may play a larger role than others, so prioritize what’s important to you.Based on the homework conducted and your own profile, identify colleges that are the best match. Remember to ask do you have the standardized test scores, academic background, work history and profile to get into this school and does the college meet your criteria.
3. Application Form - Skimming through the instructions.Review the application instructions thoroughly, especially the necessary requirements and relevant documents for your area of study. Fill each section accurately and completely, re-checking for any errors. If you have any questions or concerns send an email to the appropriate department at the University for clarity.
4. Essays - Not answering the essay question(s). It sounds counterintuitive, almost, but this is one of the most common mistakes students make. Your essay is doomed for failure once you start responding to hypothetical questions, that is, writing what you think the admissions committee wants to hear, instead of articulating a response to the question that has been asked clearly and directly.
5. Letters of Recommendation - Providing limited guidance to recommender(s).Provide the recommender(s) with a set of preparation materials including:
6. Resume – Including only a partial snapshot. The resume needs to showcase not only your academic or professional accomplishments, but personal and community too. Describe each of your accomplishments with strong verbs that clearly demonstrate both the breadth and depth of experience.
7. Social media – Forgetting to de-clutter. Social media can help you enhance your story and make your application credible. Clean up your current social media presence and utilize social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn to be an extension of your college applications, by appropriately posting comments and links to highlight strengths, skills and interests to give targeted schools authentic insight you're your personalities.
8. Taking “safety” schools for granted. Students often do not put in the same level of effort and diligence when applying to “safety” schools as they do their other choices, and thus are surprised when they don’t gain admission. All schools require a strong application that puts forward your strengths and showcases your fit.
9. Editing – Not consistently checking for silly mistakes. Silly mistakes come in many forms, including spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or inputting the wrong word by accident. So edit, edit, edit and edit again. You cannot proofread your work too many times. Print it out and revisit each draft after a couple of days and send it to close friends or family as every eye gravitates toward and catches something different.
10.Submission – waiting until the last minute. Systems can crash, an Internet connection can be weak and technical glitches can occur. Do not wait until the nth hour to upload your application. Give yourself a few days grace period.
I know a number of these issues seem obvious, but they happen too often. So before pressing “submit” check all details one more time and make sure that you are putting the best possible application forward. Good Luck!