Common College Application Mistakes

August 28, 2021
By AdmissionSight

What are some common college application mistakes?

There’s a lot of common college application mistakes when applying to colleges. At AdmissionSight, we’ve always emphasized the importance of the college applications, particularly when it comes to Ivy League admissions, UC’s and other competitive universities. Treat the college application as if it’s the most important piece of document in your arsenal. We’ll narrow down to the major points we believe are important to consider when it comes to college applications.

  1. The application is incredibly important. At the end of the day you are just a piece of paper to the admissions committee. So despite all your accomplishments and involvement throughout high school, if you fail to capture your experiences in a meaningful manner through the application, then all your efforts are futile. Whether you get in or not depends on the personal statements and application that you put together.
  2. Not applying to all the top tier universities. This one may seem simple, but we can’t tell you how many students we’ve worked with who were rejected from Cornell but got accepted to Yale, was turned down by Duke and Rice but got into Stanford, etc. There are real people who are evaluating your application and candidacy – not robots. More importantly, admissions in America isn’t black and white – it’s a holistic process. If you don’t apply, you have a zero shot at getting in.
  3. Not preparing early enough and understanding what’s at stake. Certainly we’ve worked with seniors who were well accomplished and needed a strong application to help them get that acceptance letter. But many times we’ve met high school seniors who merely have strong GPA and test scores (and nothing else) and who mistakenly believed they had a strong shot at Stanford or Harvard. In this day and age, GPA and test scores only scratch the surface – if you seriously want the best shot at getting in, you need to prepare for regional and national competitions as well as high impact extracurriculars. And these outside opportunities take time to prepare for, even as early as 5th grade!

So there you go – there are certainly many misconceptions when it comes to the college admissions process. If you want the best shot at getting into the top tier universities, these are common mistakes we’ve seen probably 95% of high school students and families make. Those who are well-informed about this process are the ones who truly have a strong shot at getting into a top tier university.

College application mistakes to avoid.

 

Common College Application Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to the college applications, particularly the personal statements, generally speaking these are some of the common mistakes that you should avoid. When it doubt, it may be best to consult college admissions consultants to get an expert opinion on how to approach the college applications and personal statements.

  • Applicants who become excessively boastful or arrogant about one’s accomplishments in responses to essay questions or additional information section
  • Applicants who attempt to blame their poor grades or extreme lack of performance due to some third party factor (family issues, etc) that really has little impact on them. It demonstrates their inability to overcome challenges and obstacles and rise to the occasion.
  • Grammar/spelling mistakes, including poor formatting of the application, that shows lack of attention to detail when filling out perhaps the most important document for college admissions.
  • Humor in the essays that often go wrong and aren’t very funny in the first place. Creativity is valued if approached correctly and in a thoughtful manner that caters to the audience whom will be reading the essays.
  • The hours/week or weeks/year are just excessive to an extent that isn’t humanly possible. This again reinforces the applicant’s exaggeration of their accomplishments. The hours logged for extracurriculars being simply way too high that would make admissions officers question the authenticity of the application

disciplinary action

  • Any disciplinary action that the student may have received that is evident in the transcript or recommendation letters
  • Blatant exaggeration on behalf of the student’s accomplishments to make their accomplishments sound more impressive than they really were
  • Poor recommendation letters that portray negative light on the student’s behalf. Recommendation letters are out of your control, but they are extremely important – be careful who you choose to write your letters.
  • Student is involved in internships that seem to be affiliated with their parent’s or colleagues of the parent’s company
  • Repeated excuses in the application that try to explain away poor grades or test scores that aren’t backed up by enough evidence
  • Poor formatting or shoddy work, including typos, that reflects the student’s lack of attention to detail
  • A college essay about scoring the game winning shot or winning some competition without understanding the lessons drawn from the experience
  • Any disciplinary action that the student may have received that is evident in the transcript or recommendation letters. Whatever your high school counselor puts down in the recommendation letter could certainly go against you, even if those disciplinary records aren’t on your transcript. So we’d be very careful how you tread during your high school career – one of those marks could definitely go against you in admissions, even if you’re a strong candidate. These universities are highly selective and have way too many applicants to choose from, so a red flag like that could be an easy excuse to turn an applicant away.
  • Any falsified information in the application, including recommendation letters

Learn from your mistakes.

Could your application be rescinded?

There are many reasons why your application could possibly be rescinded. Getting your application rescinded is not necessarily the end of the world as you can file a rebuttal for your case. However, it does happen from time to time and it’s important to tread the waters carefully when ending the final semester of your senior year and finishing high school on a strong note.

  • You received some major disciplinary action by your high school, ie, drug use, that led to your expulsion after you received your acceptance from the college
  • Your grades dipped dramatically in the 1st or 2nd semester of your senior year since you received your acceptance letter offer
  • You violated some rules in the application process, ie, lying about credentials that you didn’t have and they found out
  • You applied to several schools early decision and violated the one school early decision policy, for example
  • You committed any act of fraud or misconduct in the application process that led them to rescind your acceptance letter
  • Any disciplinary action that the student may have received that is evident in the transcript or recommendation letters. Whatever your high school counselor puts down in the recommendation letter could certainly go against you, even if those disciplinary records aren’t on your transcript. So we’d be very careful how you tread during your high school career – one of those marks could definitely go against you in admissions, even if you’re a strong candidate. These universities are highly selective and have way too many applicants to choose from, so a red flag like that could be an easy excuse to turn an applicant away.

There’s actually many more red flags that throw off a poorly put together application that doesn’t do justice to reflect your candidacy. We’d try to spend some quality time on the application as that is the most important factor when it comes to college admissions. There are many red flags that could potentially go wrong in the college admissions process and raise the eyebrows of college admissions officers. We could definitely name a few of those above that would be immediate turn-offs on college applications, and so it’s important to take all of these factors into consideration when drafting together your college applications.

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