Five common mistakes on college applications and how to avoid them
The college application process can be overwhelming for a busy junior or senior. However, in the highly competitive college admission landscape of today, it is still important that students take the process seriously, getting their application package into the best possible shape. “Much of the groundwork for the college admission process begins the moment students start high school - taking challenging courses, getting involved, staying in touch with guidance counselors,” says Susan Sassic, Center Director of the Peachtree City Huntington Learning Center. “However, when the time comes to research colleges and apply, there are many things students can do to strengthen their applications. Just as it is important to present themselves well, students can also increase their chances for admission by avoiding common application pitfalls.”
Sassic lists the following 5 application mistakes - and tips to avoid them:
1. Incorrect details. Your student wouldn’t be the first to fill out multiple college applications at the same time, even using similar essays, but be sure he or she carefully reviews each and every application before sending it off. Naming the University of Texas in an application essay for Boston University is a sloppy mistake that could be avoided by thoroughly reviewing the application.
2. Failing to address a dip in academic performance. Perhaps your student’s normally strong GPA dropped one semester due to a family tragedy, illness or other situation. Maybe he or she was forced to drop a class due to unforeseen circumstances. Major red flags on your student’s transcript should be addressed in the appropriate place on the application (or in a teacher’s recommendation letter). Admissions officers will appreciate important supplemental information about your student’s academic history.
3. An unoriginal application essay. The application is your student’s opportunity to share with an admissions officer who he or she is, what is important to him or her, or perhaps a meaningful turning point in his or her life. Encourage your student to take time with this important component of the overall application. A unique essay written in your student’s own voice could be the part of the application that convinces a college to extend your student admission. Conversely, a generic essay may give an admissions officer the impression that your student did not care enough to write something personal and thoughtful.
4. Failure to follow directions. Your student should never assume all college applications are the same. Encourage him or her to read the application carefully, pay attention to deadlines and make certain before sending that no sections are overlooked or incomplete. Your student should review each and every completed application with care and have you, a teacher or a counselor review as well.
5. Sending incomplete applications. Your student should pay close attention to each college’s application checklist and stay in touch with his or her high school guidance counselor to ensure the completed application is not missing any important pieces. Also, if your student applies online or through the Common Application, be sure he or she informs his or her guidance counselor so that transcripts, letters of recommendation or other materials are sent on time.
The college application process is an intense experience - one that your student may simply wish to get over with. “Parents should encourage their students to get started early, take their time, and most importantly, avoid these common application blunders,” says Sassic. “That effort will put students in the best position possible, and will hopefully gain them those coveted acceptance letters to the schools of their choice.”
For more information, please contact your local Peachtree City Huntington Learning Center at 770-632-7336.