1. Inappropriate e-mail address. Because a lot of colleges communicate via e-mail now, it’s important that you have a professional-sounding e-mail address. [email protected] is probably not how you want to present yourself to admission officers. There are a ton of e-mail programs out there that offer free e-mail accounts (gmail, hotmail, yahoo, etc.). Create your own super secret account that you use only for college communication. Just be sure to check it frequently.
2. Naming the wrong school. It’s HARD keeping track of all of these darn schools. No matter how much research you may have done trying to figure out which schools are right for you, human error can ruin the party in one fell swoop. Make sure to check and double-check that the college you name in your application is the college that will receive the application.
3. Forgetting a section. The application is a looong document with lots of sections to it. Be sure that you don’t miss any questions or required information. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to talk about yourself! Every inch of space on the application is prime real estate.
4. Waiting until the last minute to ask teachers to write letters of recommendation. Yikes! Asking a teacher to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf is a scary thing, no matter how well your teacher knows you. But just know that your teachers are wise and wonderful and want to help you. Be sure to give them as much time as possible to complete your recommendations. More time generally means a better constructed, more polished rec letter. And your teacher will be grateful.
5. Not double-checking deadlines. Deadlines vary! Make sure you know exactly when a college must receive all pieces of your application. A deadline is a deadline is a deadline.
6. Disobeying word limits or character limits. Make sure you read the fine print and all of the directions in an application. Since a lot of colleges use online applications, they often impose a strict character limit (kind of like your Facebook status does). This means that if your essay or response is longer than asked for, it might get chopped off or it might not appear at all. Ruh-roh.
7. Not answering the question. Try to answer the question or address the essay prompt as directly and completely as you can. Don’t lead the college admission officers on a wild goose chase. Make it easy for them to get the information they ask for.
8. Assuming the biographical information part isn’t important. The first questions in the application about where you were born, how many siblings you have, and what your parents do are really important in helping the admission officers figure out who you are. Don’t skimp on the details. Do it up!
9. Leaving information about yourself out. Don’t leave information out simply because you feel it’s not important. It’s better to err on the side of sharing too much, rather than too little. For example, if you make dinner every night for your family, the admission officers want to know about it. If you help your parents with their business (even if you don’t get paid), that’s vital 411.
10. Forgetting to check for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and factual errors. Ouch! Nothing spells “buzz kill” like a misspelled word. How could such a little mistake be such a game changer? Competition is tight. There are thousands of other applicants who have nicely polished applications. You don’t want to be the one who misspelled.
11. Treating your application like your Facebook page or a text message. Beware of being too casual in your college application. It’s important that everything is polished and revised. When you're filling out your application, don't use texting abbreviations and lowercase letters. Beware of rushing your writing and just clicking "send." Completing an application takes time. Be sure to read through it a couple of times before clicking "submit."