6 Common Mistakes in College Applications Leading to Failure


2020 turned out to be quite a challenging year for students applying to the most renowned colleges worldwide. For instance, in the US alone, acceptance rates dropped by nearly 5%.

How to survive in this stiff competition, stand out, and get enrolled in your dream college?

Firstly, take care of your college application. It’s not just a collection of life statistics and academic achievements. It’s your ticket to happy student life, and to earn it, you should apply yourself.

Since the admissions process is always extremely competitive, devote time to define your application strengths and pitfalls. Pay special attention to the latter.
Want to know 6 common mistakes that bring one closer to getting rejected?

We’re delighted to share them and some valuable tips with you! Read below.

college application

Source https://www.collegexpress.com/articles-and-advice/admission/blog/11-steps-finalizing-submitting-your-college-apps

Being Late From the Beginning Till the End

The application process is an important and mind-blowing event in learners’ lives. So, no wonder one might miss out or forget about a detail or two during preparation. Also, no one is safe from procrastination, dilly-dallying, and, as a result, postponing such essential steps as:

  • Creating a college target list
  • Researching on the preferable educational establishment
  • Essay proofreading
  • Gathering recommendations
  • Timely submission of the application

All of these may result in being late and reduce the chances of successful and stress-free enrollment. To perform well and in-good-time, avoid the following mistakes.

Choosing Colleges up to the Last Moment

Since your application must be personalized in terms of the target college, too, we recommend not to hesitate with the choice. However, don’t do it hastily, panicking, and ending up with a big batch of options. All in all, it’s your life decision. And spreading yourself too thin is not the best strategy.

In general, most millennials apply up to 10 colleges. You can consider this number for your list, but ensure it includes a balanced ratio of safety, match, and reach schools.

Bonus tip:
To understand the trends in college admissions better, study the number of applicants in early decision statistics. Also, admission and acceptance rates will help to evaluate your chances of getting enrolled.

Last-Minute Requesting for Recommendations

It’s necessary to give your teacher adequate time for writing recommendations. Generalized, poorly written, or vague letters of recommendation can be a lost opportunity to impress admissions officers.

Besides, there are also cases when a teacher no longer works in your school. You need some time to find their contacts to discuss this important point of your application.
So, start developing and collecting recommendations earlier, and feel free to provide specific information about yourself. It’ll make writing their letter easier.

Submitting the Application on the Day It’s Due

Been too busy or procrastinated too much that you barely had a chance to apply in a timely manner?
That’s understandable — however, it’s not the best way to stand out. The point is that admissions officers track when learners send applications. Late submission indicates that students are not serious or just don’t consider the college their first choice. It’s simple as that — you should deliver your college application before the deadline.

Bonus tip:
Start preparation for your admission process early — from the beginning of high school. Get help from your college counselor. They know the insights, will advise you to partake in suitable extracurricular activities and courses, and help outline an action plan.


Source https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/10/magazine/college-admissions-paul-tough.html

Letting Parents to Decide for You

Surely, parents mustn’t take the lead and write the application on your behalf. They should be engaged in the admission process, provide support and guidance.
However, their contribution comes with limits. Schools want to see your personality. It’s time to make a statement, take responsibility, and make serious decisions on your own.

Submitting Non-Personalized College Applications

In most US colleges, the process of evaluation of an applicant is called a “holistic review.” The idea is to focus on the student as a unique person, not emphasizing bare test scores/GPA and thus reducing one’s chances. During this individualized review, admissions officers:

  • Define the ways you can contribute to the educational environment;
  • Pay attention to your soft skills and potential;
  • Consider you as a unique person with diverse experience;
  • Predict your success in college and post-graduation life.

And many students forget to think beyond the numbers while filling out a college application. Some of them avoid writing essays on the topics they find very personal. Instead, applicants prefer to provide general information admissions officers want to hear (as they think). As a result, your college application lacks your passions, interests, thoughts, skills, background — it lacks the real you.

Others try to focus too much on their traumatic experiences, past failures, fears, and regrets. It can come to the point when the application sinks into total negativity. It’s quite an obstacle for admissions officers to see your potential.

Besides, we advise you not to include too much information that doesn’t improve your application. Too many recommendation letters and certificates also won’t contribute to showing yourself up as a unique student and much-needed candidate.

Introduce your personality, present your versatility! You should find a perfect balance describing positives and challenges. Be honest and sincere. Include the most appropriate information about yourself that will 100% advance the application and skyrocket success.


Source https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2020/11/04/how-to-include-scouting-experience-on-a-job-or-college-application

Showing No Interest in the Specific College

Firstly, visit the school website and turn to the requirements called “admissions rubrics.” They are not one-size-fits-all and differ from college to college. Rubrics are widely used to normalize the admissions process and identify applicants genuinely interested in the school.
This “rubric” can serve as a useful guide for you, where you’re most likely to find such components:

  • GPA
  • Test Scores
  • School profile
  • Recommendation Letters
  • List of Extracurricular Activities
  • Essays, etc.

Also, pay attention to whether your goal college needs you to be proficient in Spanish or have a certificate in Graphic Design. Visit the website and find out what must be included and related to your intended major. One can often forget about this option and miss out on an essential requirement or application point.
Will this increase the chances of being accepted? Surely, no.

When You Can’t Explain Why This College

The best opportunity to demonstrate your interest in a particular school is by writing an essay and explaining the reasons for your choice. You’re probably applying to multiple schools. But admissions officers expect some specifics.

In other words, why do you have a passion for this college? What does attract you to the academic program? How can you contribute to the school community?
Creating a universal pattern with generic answers, such as “The building is beautiful, and the sports field is huge,” for applying to 10+ colleges at once won’t do. This formula is easily recognizable and guarantees nothing but failure. Investigate something unique, understand their college culture, feel the vibes of the student community.

Focus on every school separately. Don’t make a college application for Princeton look like the one for Yale.

Bonus tip:
To check if the essay is generic, simply replace the college name with another in the text. Does it still make sense? If yes, try again and be more specific.

Premium tip:
Show your interest in colleges beyond the text. Follow their social media pages and “like” their posts.


Source https://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/opinion/sunday/bruni-how-to-choose-a-college.html

Underestimating Minor Issues with the Text

Application essays are generally about 500-650 words. Of course, these numbers can vary. But usually, you have only about 600 words and a few minutes of reading your essay by admissions officers for you to get enrolled. And any missing comma can be a stumbling block to your acceptance.
Admission officers read hundreds of applications and pick out those applicants who care about submitting a flawless document. Simple mistakes with punctuation and capitalization or typos can ruin your chances.

So, proofreading and editing are vital stages for creating an application essay that stands out. Some candidates skip this step by even hardly using special software. Such services as Grammarly and ProWritingAid are beneficial for grammar, spelling, and syntax check. However, don’t rely on them fully — proofreading your application goes beyond that.

Go over the document and avoid such issues:

  • Repetition of the word and ideas — beating over the bush;
  • Overusing adjectives to reach the word count;
  • Accidentally writing wrong school names;
  • Too frequent use of the personal pronoun “I”;
  • The illogical and inconsistent flow of ideas.

No one will expect your text to be a world literature masterpiece. Still, proofreading and having another pair of eyes to review can help.

Not Spending Time for Yourself

Most likely, you feel fatigued and may need some rest. It’s quite an eventful period in your life with an overwhelming workload for you.
Sometimes, it’s better to take a break and find time for yourself. Do what you like the most and fill your days with positive moments! This way, you’ll turn to the admissions process with renewed vigor.

The Takeaways?

Usually, a college application is a combination of factors. And not all of them will be under your control due to various reasons. However, there are some winning points you can pay close attention to.

Keep in check and try to avoid the mistakes we have discussed in your college application. We believe that soon, you’ll be one of those lucky students and get the long-awaited “Congratulations!” letter from your dream college.

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Published by
Rebecca Jenkins
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Rebecca has been a freelance writer since 2010. She travels often and is constantly learning something new. Also, Rebecca is a true enthusiast of social sciences, especially of psychology. She gladly shares her experience of enjoying life and finding inspiration across the US and abroad.
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