Many decisions cause stress for teenagers during the college admissions process, from deciding between applying early or regular decision to figuring out a topic for the perfect admissions essay.
During such a stressful time, students may make obvious mistakes that could end up crushing their college dreams.
Business Insider talked to Abby Siegel, a college-entrance consultant with 19 years of experience, who shared the eight most common mistakes college applicants make.
1. Using generic reasons for choosing a college. Students shouldn’t say they want to go to a particular school because of classroom size or teacher-student ratios. That answer is too generic because there are plenty of colleges with small classroom sizes. They should really investigate something unique they like about the school and express that in the admissions essay.
2. Forgetting to proofread. Students should proofread their applications and essays. They should ask another adult — teacher, parent, or guidance counselor — to proofread them as well.
3. Missing the opportunity to fully explain extracurricular activities. The activity section of the Common Application is limited with only a certain amount of characters allowed. Students shouldn’t miss the opportunity to talk about all of their extracurricular activities despite this limitation. They should utilise the “additional information” section to finish anything that didn’t fit in the activity section.
4. Sending in low test scores even if the school doesn’t require them. Not all schools require you to send standardised test scores; many are test optional now.
Additionally, some schools require you to send every test score (for example, if you took the SAT multiple times), but some do not.
If you performed very well on your standardised tests, it’s certainly beneficial to send your scores in. But if you have very low test scores, it’s beneficial to make sure you know the requirements for each school before applying. It may make sense to hold back your scores from your application.
5. Applying on the day the application is due. It is highly recommended that students send in their applications prior to the deadline. Colleges track when students send applications, and it reflects negatively on students when they send in their applications the day they’re due. Siegel says that applying on the day your application is due may indicate to admissions officers that you are lazy, or that the school you are applying to isn’t your first choice.
6. Neglecting to show an interest in the college beyond the application. Colleges have started to look in other areas to prove the demonstrated interest of applicants, including looking at students’ social media pages. They notice when students “like” their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter and Instagram.
7. Requesting teacher recommendations at the last minute. Students should give adequate time for teacher recommendations. Siegel recommends asking a teacher in spring of a student’s junior year, and then following up as soon as school starts senior year.
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