College applicants make mistakes on their applications, and college admission officers can easily identify them because they are made, believe it or not, over and over.
Here are some don’ts for you to avoid so your application doesn’t go into the Do-Not-Admit pile.
1. When making out 8 to 12 application during your very busy senior fall semester, it may seem practical to make one essay count twice. However, many applicants forget to change the name of the college in every place in the essay that was first sent before sending it again. The first line might start out fine: “I have chosen Dartmouth because….”, but applicants can miss something in the middle that might say “…, and the University of Vermont offers the perfect setting for an avid skier like me.” This type of mistakes shows sloppiness, poor proofreading skills, lack of focus, and laziness. It is time consuming, but it is always best to write one essay for each college, especially if it’s the why-do-you-want-to-come-here essay. Each college has its own special features, and you should be writing about those.
2. Every college applicant has dozens of deadlines: the application deadline as well as Early Action/Early Decision deadlines, scholarship deadlines, and financial aid deadlines (for the college, for federal loans, and for state aid). Don’t miss even one deadline, especially financial aid deadlines because financial aid is given on a first-come-first-serve basis. College admission officers actually may start early and have more time to consider applications that come in before their deadline. Applications received after a deadline have little chance to get attention.
3. Failure to connect to your college can ruin your best chance to be admitted. Remember the college is admitting you, not your guidance counselor or your parents. You need to go to the college fair, meet the college representatives, and correspond with them; you need to visit the college campus and meet the professors, coaches, and admissions officers; you need to call admissions with any questions. If you do not correspond and leave it to adults to handle, you miss the chance of making an impression.
4. Not managing the letters of recommendation your application requires can hurt your chances of admission. Letters of recommendation tell more about you than your grades and scores. If you do not ask for letters of recommendation early enough, a teacher will not have the time and energy it takes to write specifically about you. Give them time to consider you and formulate a good letter. Also give them information about you and talk with them about what can be highlighted in your letter. In fact, start early enough with everything needed in your application: your resume, your essays, and filling out the forms. Nothing in your application should be done last-minute.
If you take the time to do a good job on your college application and give others to do a good job for you; and if you meet your deadlines, you should be in good shape to ace this competitive process.