Top 10 college application mistakes

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If you’re a high school senior hoping to attend a college or university next fall, there’s a good chance it’s crunch time for you. Application deadlines or priority deadlines are looming, and you’re rushing (hopefully not too frantically…see No. 2) to get them all turned in. Here’s two handfuls of common mistakes to avoid in your haste…

10. Having mom and dad do it for you.  It’s OK to get some advice from your parents, but neither one of them should be filling out applications or writing essays for you. Colleges want to hear from YOU, not mom and dad. We know you’re busy, but you’re not that busy. (Just wait until you get to college—then you’ll realize how good you had it!)

9. Using your “clever” e-mail address and/or not checking it.  Listen up This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , we know you love the pop star, but that won’t win over most college admissions counselors. And whatever you put down as your e-mail, check it often. There may be pertinent information from your top choice waiting in your inbox.

8. Writing illegibly.  If your name, address, phone number and e-mail look more like hieroglyphics than standard English, the admissions office has no way of contacting you (whatever it guesses that your name might be).

7. Using the wrong college’s name in your essay.  Believe it or not, this happens more than you’d think. Admissions offices realize you may be re-using similar essays for similar prompts, but when you copy & paste, be sure to double check you’re using the correct college’s name.

6. Misspelling words and committing grammatical errors.  This is an easy one. Just proofread everything carefully before submitting or have someone do it for you, and you should be fine.

5. Forgetting your signature.  If an application calls for a signature, chances are the admissions office cannot process your application until they have that. Thus, if you forget your John Hancock, your application will most likely be put on hold.

4. Not sending your transcripts and test scores.  Again, in almost all cases, schools are going to need to see both your high school transcript and standardized test scores. Failure to submit these in support of your application will result in a lengthy wait for a decision.

3. Not answering optional questions.  Even though it may say optional, a university would not put a question or prompt on an application if they didn’t want students to complete that portion. Anything of the sort is an opportunity for you to separate yourself from the rest.

2. Waiting until last minute.  An admissions office is a whirlwind of a place—busy, busy, busy. Waiting until the absolute last second to turn in your application isn’t going to help your chances.

1. Lying!  If an admissions counselor discovers you’ve been untruthful in any way on your application, you can just about kiss your chances of acceptance goodbye.

Dave Floyd is an Admissions Counselor at Waynesburg University, whose travel territory includes Westmoreland County, Eastern Pennsylvania and the Northeast states. He is also a 2012 Waynesburg alumnus.

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