College Admissions Mistakes to Avoid

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“In your experience, what are the most significant and avoidable mistakes students make throughout the college admissions process?”—Elizabeth R., Omaha, NE

Not Having a Counselor Review Your App and Using Nicknames Bob Tillman, Director of College Placement, Creighton Preparatory School

Rarely have I reviewed an application where I have not found some mistakes: inaccuracies, misinformation, incompleteness, or misspellings. So, students can profit by asking their counselors to review their college applications before they press the submit button. Students can also save themselves and their counselors a lot of trouble by using their formal names on all applications and on ACT/SAT registrations. Every year, I deal with colleges that have created multiple files for the same student. One file for Jimmy has the application and test scores, and another for James has the transcript. Using nicknames creates problems since the school transcript is always with the student's formal name.

Most College Application Mistakes Are Preventable and Usually Due to Procrastination! Megan Dorsey, SAT Prep & College Advisor, College Prep LLC

Pay attention and stay organized so you don’t fall into these traps:  1) Failing to research schools adequately. I’ve known students who arrived on campus to find the university doesn’t offer their desired major or doesn’t have a good campus life. 2)  Missing deadlines, forgetting essential items, or failing to confirm receipt of all application elements. One senior who was admitted to an Ivy League school came to me frustrated, because it was the only university that hadn’t offered him financial aid. The university told me why: He had never submitted any of the required paperwork. 3) Making sloppy errors. Misunderstood questions, poorly written essays, and typos all will undermine your application.

Most Mistakes Are Conceptual, Not Mechanical Jon Boeckenstedt, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Policy & Planning, DePaul University

By far, the biggest mistake is the belief that the perfect college exists.  Let’s be clear: No place is perfect, but fortunately, there are almost certainly lots of places where any particular student will get a great education in a setting where she feels comfortable. The second mistake is ruling out a college based on costs; apply without regard to cost. The third mistake is not choosing a college for a fairly minor reason, such as it rained during the campus visit, you didn’t like the tour guide, or your cab driver said people in town don’t like the college.  Make sure you consider the whole institution, not small parts of it.

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