Blog by Lisa: Top-5 College Admission Mistakes
Applying to college is a stressful time for any student, so don’t risk sabotaging your hard work by making avoidable mistakes during the process.
Waiting until the last minute to complete your college applications is never a good idea, and procrastinating just increases the likelihood of making more mistakes, including missing critical deadlines. The college application process is a time-compressed period with lots of deadlines. Waiting until the last minute could mean your application is incomplete after the due date. The best advice throughout your college application process is to plan ahead. Treat college deadlines as sacred—and give yourself plenty of time to meet (or beat) them.
2. Failing to demonstrate an interest in the college.
Colleges increasingly take into consideration whether students have directly demonstrated their interest in learning more about them. All universities want to admit students who genuinely know and are passionate to study there, since they are most likely to attend, be active and show great results!
An important piece of demonstrated interest is your answer to the college’s version of the “Why did you choose X university?”. Your essay should be full of specific details about the academic programs and student activities that attract you to the university and how you would contribute to the students’ community. If you haven’t investigated the university thoroughly, your essay will be bland and may even come across as insincere. So make sure to do your research!
For anyone who still thinks perfect grades and exam scores get you into highly selective colleges – think again! What you do outside of the formal classroom—your extracurricular activities—is one of the most important things that separates merely qualified applicants from desirable ones. So please don’t be lazy when you fill out your activities list!
Don’t forget to indicate the year(s) of participation and tell the university your role in each activity, especially if you were a leader. For instance, what knowledge you gained from the experience and how it reflected on your character? Give it some thought!
4. Poor grammar and punctuation: College essays are not text messages!
If you were born and bred in an English-speaking environment, readers will expect you to have a strong command of proper grammar and punctuation. You don’t want to give the reader ANY reasons to put your application in the reject pile, but poor grammar and punctuation will get you there quick – I mean quickly. If English is your second language, try to have a native speaker review your application for glaring errors in grammar, word choice, and punctuation. No one will expect your prose to be perfect, but go the extra mile and have someone review your grammar.
5. No plagiarizing: it must come from you!
Never, never, never copy someone else’s work. Don’t ask or pay someone else to write your essay or parts of it for you. Colleges will likely find out—some even run plagiarism checks—and will reject you or revoke your admission if you’ve already been accepted. And, of course, it’s ethically wrong to plagiarize.
The college admission process is rarely fun. But it can be tolerable and less stressful if you avoid these classic mistakes.