Director of International Admission,
Franklin & Marshall College,
I know that this is obvious, but you would be amazed at the number of times students do not proof read what they have written in the application. The errors can be anything from common misspellings to mentioning that their #1 school favorite is not the name of the school they are applying to. While these types of mistakes by themselves are not usually going to make the difference of whether or not they are accepted to a particular school, if that kind of carelessness is found throughout the application, it can make a difference.
Assistant Director, International Student Services
New York (www.plattsburgh.edu)
Students often forget that the application for a college or university is like an application for employment. This is often a huge financial investment for the student and the student’s family so being casual when filling out application forms is not appropriate. I see students using email addresses with silly names such as “firstname.lastname@example.org” or using language that they use on facebook like “lol” (laugh out loud) or “ttyl” (talk to you later). This is only appropriate when writing friends or people that know students well. It can be damaging to an application if an admissions officer sees this language when considering hundreds or thousands of other qualified applicants. I also see students mixing up the name of my school with the name of another school. I encourage students to read the application instructions very carefully and contact an admissions officer if there are any questions about how to complete the application.
Our number one goal is to make sure students have the tools necessary to successfully complete the application process. It is up to the student, however, to succeed in being admitted. The best way to do that is to take the application process seriously.
Assistant Dean of Admissions,
St Olaf College,
I would advise students to write essays that reveal what they value in their lives or share some of definitive moment that formed their identity. The essay is my favorite part of the application because it is the one places where students can be creative while sharing their ideas or background with the admissions office.
International Admission Officer,
Chapman University, Orange,
The most common mistake I see are students not using their full name as it appears on their passport on all documents submitted; application, SAT scores, TOEFL, etc. It is very difficult for our process to match a student’s documents if the names on all documents are not the same. In addition, most universities take the name as it appears on their application for the I-20 visa forms, so when a student does not use their official name, that i-20 then is wrong and cannot be used.
Another common mistake is when students do not complete all the questions asked on a page or form in the application. If we are asking it, then we expect it to be answered. Lastly it is important that a current e-mail address is maintained with all school’s a student applied to as that is the primary form of communication about application status and other matters in regards to an application.
Director of International Education,
The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth,
Always be honest in completing an application. Be sure that it is neat, complete and submitted by deadline. Keep in touch with the admissions officer at the university when questions arise or if deadlines cannot be met for a valid reason.
The author is an independent admissions counsellor and can be contacted by email at email@example.com. He also runs www.YouCanWriteNow.com, a blog assisting students write college application essays