10 Common Application Mistakes to Avoid
In 2019, Approximately 19.9 Million U.S. Students Were Enrolled In College…
As large as that number is, that’s still only a fraction of the amount of students who submitted college applications. Every year, high school seniors are busy trying to stay on top of classes, extracurricular activities, leadership roles, and most importantly, college applications.
So, with the amount of students who are denied admission to college, what are the common mistakes these students are making?
At WeAdmit, we’ve researched the many common college application mistakes students make every year. Understanding what students focus too much on and what they don’t emphasize enough could give you a fresh perspective on your own college applications.
Keep reading to find out what the top ten common application mistakes are and how to avoid them!
What You’ll Find In This Article:
- The Challenges of the College Application Process
- The Top 10 Mistakes Students Make on College Applications
- Crafting Your Best Application
The Challenges Of The College Application Process
College applications seem to come at an inconvenient time for high school students. Busy students manage to juggle multiple priorities at once, but eventually, senior year’s distractions can easily pull your focus away from your college applications. Whether you wait too long to get started or don’t have access to the proper resources, college application mistakes are always possible, and the more you can do to prevent them, the better.
You may be a stellar student, but you’re burnt out from all the pressures of high school. It’s healthy to admit that, sometimes, circumstances seem to work against you during college application season. By understanding common distractions that may interfere with your progress on your college applications, you can look out for these roadblocks and deliver an outstanding product to your dream colleges.
The Top 10 Mistakes Students Make On College Applications
College applications are multi-faceted; they contain objective facts about your high school education like grades and scores, and subjective information like your essays, letters of recommendation, and writing supplements.
With all these components to juggle, it’s no wonder that students tend to spend more time on some sections than others. Luckily, by being aware of the most common college application mistakes, you can craft an application that is creative, professional, and worthy of admission.
NOT SEEKING HELP FROM A PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR
Counselors are a vital resource for high school students applying to college. Not only can counselors answer your questions and give you tailored advice in one-on-one sessions, but they can also complete research for you, remind you of deadlines, request letters of recommendation, and send your official transcripts to colleges.
Counselors and their services have helped countless students gain admission into college because they function as a personal college admissions assistant. How can you go wrong with someone dedicated to your success in getting accepted to college?
SPREADING YOURSELF TOO THIN
Don’t forget that working too hard can sometimes reflect poorly on your college application; it may show admission officers that you’re all work and no play, and a big part of having a healthy campus culture is by inviting students that love to have fun too! Be sure to highlight the extracurricular activities that you genuinely enjoy and that look good on an application.
In fact, working too hard can result in a common condition among high school students known as burnout. By creating balance in your schedule and making room for fun activities and a much-needed dose of rest, you’ll be doing yourself a favor. Breaks are necessary, so schedule healthy-sized breaks as you’re completing your application to ensure that you’re coming back to it focused and strong.
NOT SEEKING ADVICE FROM CURRENT COLLEGE STUDENTS
Next to professional counselors, taking the advice of students who have gone before you can save you tons of time and effort. Do some research and find out what current college students learned when they were applying for college; you may find that you can learn from their mistakes too.
Another way you can do this is by utilizing WeAdmit’s College Essay Reviews. In these reviews, we take college application essays that helped current college students gain admission to their top schools, and break them down to find out what they did to give their essay a little extra spark! Plus, our college essay reviews could give you a broader perspective of what a solid essay looks like; taking advantage of these resources could reveal some essay writing mistakes that many students unknowingly make on their applications, and with our tools, you can learn how to avoid them.
NOT WEIGHING YOUR OPTIONS
Too many students randomly choose a handful of colleges without completing sufficient research. Choosing which colleges to apply to is an enormous task within itself; having a basic idea of what you’re looking for in a college will help you choose schools where you have a good chance of gaining acceptance.
The best way to start weighing your options is by considering some of the many factors involved with choosing a college. Some of these factors include in-state or out-of-state, public or private, and how many colleges you should apply to.
A great way to research different colleges quickly is by utilizing WeAdmit’s College Guides. In our college guides, we cover everything you need to know about a college before you apply, including admission requirements, how to apply, campus culture, and career connections:
- What Does It Take To Get Into Harvard?
- What Does It Take To Get Into Columbia?
- What Does It Take To Get Into MIT?
- What Does It Take To Get Into The University of Washington?
NOT GIVING ANY THOUGHT TO MAJOR
Having at least an idea of what you’d like to study can be immensely helpful as you’re completing your applications. One of the biggest parts of college applications is connecting why you belong there, and how you will contribute to their student body. By already knowing which of their academic programs you’re interested in, you can use that as leverage to explain why you chose them, and how they will help you advance in your career.
Many high school students don’t know what they want to major in when they’re applying for college. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be hard; simply consider your likes and dislikes, what you’re passionate about, and what kind of career you see yourself pursuing.
NOT TAKING AP CLASSES
AP classes can do many positive things for you as you’re applying to college. AP classes can raise your GPA, open up a new demographic of college choices, and they look great on any college application. When college admission officers see AP classes on your transcripts, they see how you challenged yourself and worked hard to get excellent grades.
When you receive a high score on your AP exams, it will boost your GPA, and give you more study tools to use as you approach your SATs or ACTs, so make sure to take your AP classes and opportunities seriously.
NOT STARTING EARLY
While most high school students don’t start focusing on college applications until their junior year, it’s never too early to start preparing. Four years go by fast; completing college admission research early and asking yourself some specific questions during your freshman year can give you a vision for how you want to spend your next four years in high school.
Getting an idea about what kind of college you think you’d like to attend and what you’d like to study can help you choose student groups and activities, classes, and summer internships as well.
NOT GIVING YOUR ALL ON YOUR SATS
As you approach graduation, your to-do lists and tasks just seem to keep growing. It’s no wonder that so many students struggle with finding the time to study for their SATs.
College admissions officers learn a lot about their applicants through their college application test scores. They see work ethic, persistence, and dedication to your studies. Whether you take the SAT or the ACT, you should make a practical plan to study for your standardized tests. Enroll in an SAT prep class, invest in good study books, and take advantage of free online practice tests!
Also consider taking SAT Subject Tests; while these are usually not included in application requirements, SAT Subject Tests are a great opportunity to show college admissions officers your strengths and interests.
NOT SPENDING ENOUGH TIME ON YOUR ESSAYS
Sometimes, students will approach their college application essays with a sense of nonchalance; they think “I just have to write my answer to the prompts” or they think “This college admissions office wants honesty and rawness, so why should I spend time editing it?”
While it’s true that most colleges are looking for honesty in their essays, honesty doesn’t excuse poor writing. You’ll want to find a way to combine a professional, well-written essay with honesty and maybe even a little bit of humor. The best way to do this is to get other people to read them, like a trusted counselor, teacher, or friend, and writing them early and coming back to them often to edit them.
When it comes to writing your best college application essays, it’s important to spend time connecting your desires to your college’s goals. Be sure you take the time to do your research, find out what their mission, vision, and values are, and figure out how you fit into their vision. By clearly outlining this, you’ll be submitting an essay that’s intriguing and compelling for admissions officers to read.
NOT READING CLOSELY
One of the most common college application mistakes is rushing. When you don’t take your time, you put yourself at risk of missing important directions and deadlines.
Be sure that you’re starting your college application process slowly; read all the directions, pay attention to exactly what college admissions officers want from you, and, most importantly, make sure you know your deadlines.
One of the most frustrating college application mistakes for students is missing deadlines. Counselors and college admissions websites usually try their hardest to remind you of deadlines through emails and phone calls, but in all the busyness of senior year, it’s easy for certain dates to slip away from student’s memories. Imagine working super hard on your application, only to find that you missed the deadline. Don’t make this mistake and do whatever you have to do to remind yourself of deadlines.
Another way students can overlook important deadlines is by not understanding the difference between early action, early decision, and regular decision. If your application isn’t finished and you wanted to submit it under early action, don’t feel like you have to! Don’t rush the process; you’ll be submitting a sub-par application in a very strict and binding deadline that could bar you from applying again for another year.
While applications submitted early do carry some priority to them, it isn’t worth it if you haven’t spent as much time as you wanted on it.
Note: All of these mistakes and more can be even more confusing if you’re an international student. If you’re an international student applying to U.S. colleges, WeAdmit’s resources are for you as well. We’ve also outlined some common mistakes international students make…
Crafting Your Best Application
If you’re approaching college application season, you’re joining droves of other students who are experiencing the same anticipation, excitement, and maybe even a little anxiety about the whole process.
While applying for college seems daunting, especially as you hear about people receiving rejection letters more and more, don’t let all that negativity fog your head. There are plenty of ways for you to ensure that you’re presenting a polished application that contains every requirement the college admissions office asked for.
Fortunately, WeAdmit’s professional counselors help students every day think about the little nuances of college applications that will catch admissions officers’ eyes. We believe that you can get into your dream college, and we’ll continue to create the best resources and guides for you to use as you complete your applications.
Plus, you can even reach out to our professional counselors for one-on-one counseling sessions, where you can ask questions you have about the process, work with the counselor to edit your college application essays to perfection, and get the personalized advice that will make your application shine!
You Can Master Your College Applications, So Start Preparing Today!
7 Tips: How to write an email to a college admissions office
Emailing a college admissions office is no time for spelling errors or etiquette mistakes - this guide and sample email will keep your college emails professional and on point.
2021-2022 SAT Score Release Dates
Check WeAdmit’s 2021 and 2022 SAT calendar for a full list of test dates and SAT score release dates.