During the college admission process, there are many decisions that cause stress for teenagers, from choosing between applying early or following the regular schedule, to identifying a topic for the perfect admissions essay. During this very stressful time, students might make obvious mistakes that could end up crushing their college dreams.
Brian Giroux, one of the best college consultants and co-founder of our Capital College Consulting Institution, shares a guide to the US college admissions process, as well as the best ways to avoid the most common mistakes that college applicants make.
3 Important Rules to Follow When Applying to College
1. Colleges do not ask for information they do not find useful.
Colleges would not normally ask about what you see in their school. If they do, you must provide them with them useful, relevant information. Now that they have read your practical answer, they would most likely accept you.
2. Each essay is an opportunity to go the extra mile.
Successful college applications always stand out from the thousands of others that the school receives. The essay will give you the chance to do research on the school that often goes beyond a good look at the website.
3. Bring the school into your world.
“Do not tell them, show them.” This is the first rule of excellent essay writing. Start by showing them your world, and then explain to them how your world and the school can work wonderfully together. Discuss the programs that set them apart from other colleges, but do not get overly dramatic.
12 Common Mistakes College Applicants Make
1. Writing generic essays
Writing essays with the intention of just changing the college name for each version must be avoided. You can make a difference on the margin if you demonstrate true interest and care. This is crucial if you are applying to a university that only admits under 20% of applicants.
2. Not proofreading applications
College applications and essays must be proofread by an adult (the parent, guidance counselor or teacher). This will help make sure that all entries are grammatically correct and appropriate.
3. Submitting lengthy resumes
College applicants must not submit a three-page resume. You are doing the wrong thing if you are submitting a resume instead of just filling out the activity portion of the application.
4. Not following directions
Before doing anything else, always read the given instructions. Boarding school consultants say that there are still American students submitting their applications in a portal marked for international students. Clearly, they have not read and followed instructions properly.
5. Waiting until the last minute
Most students submit their application forms on the date of the deadline, assuming that everything was transmitted and received on time. Although some colleges give several days’ grace period, most universities expect you to confirm that your application has already been received and that it’s complete before the deadline.
6. Repeating Yourself
Every part of your essay must focus on a new idea instead of rehashing the same old thought. For instance, you told the school about how you’re living with your extended family and how significant they are in your life. The next paragraph must not be about your grandparents as the persons you admire most. Instead, tell them something new, such as what your dreams are or what you hope to become.
7. Asking obvious questions
You must focus on asking insightful questions when visiting colleges. Also, avoid asking about numbers, such as average GPA and test scores. Asking thoughtful questions often wows college admissions officers, rather than making overly simple queries.
8. Overemphasizing extracurricular activities
Experts recommend demonstrating the personal relevance of chosen extracurricular activities as well as focusing on quality over quantity. Most colleges want to know where an applicant’s passions lie. Moreover, genuine interests tend not to appear instantly in senior year.
9. Not looking into class requirements
Always make sure to take all the required classes before graduation from your high school. It would be very disappointing to review an application of a student who would otherwise be competitive for an admission and eventually realize that he is ineligible since he has not completed all required courses.
10. Requesting recommendations from teachers at the last minute
Teacher recommendations can contribute positively to your college application. Make sure to give your teacher adequate time to prepare them. It is recommended that you ask your teacher in spring or during your junior year, and then following up when the school commences senior year.
11. Not showing interest in the college beyond the application
Some colleges are looking for proof demonstrating the interest of applicants through their social media pages. So if you really want to get accepted in a certain university, you should follow them on Instagram and Twitter or “like” and “share” their Facebook page.
12. Parents are taking the lead
Some parents can be annoying – most colleges get that. Often, they do not hold this against the student, provided that he is playing a role in the process. Families must be involved in the application process; however, the student must take the lead, not his parents or guardians.
Your senior year must be one of your fondest memories and relished times. Although the college application process is frightening, it can easily be managed. Be aware of the common mistakes that college applicants commit and take advantage of the different strategies to ease the stress. Most importantly, always keep a smile in your face as you aim and work to get from where you are now to where you want to be.