3 Common College Application Mistakes You’re Probably Making

Mar 19, 2021

Once you have completed your high school education, you must enthusiastically plan to narrow down a list of your favorite colleges based on your interest and majors.

After certain times it gets stressful for a student while applying for colleges and preparing for entrance exams. It is essential to be very careful when filling the college admission application. A minor error or just a silly mistake can disrupt your opportunity to get into your dream college. 

Ideally, there is no one path to getting admitted to a particular school. Similarly, there is no single reason applicants get rejected. Generally, it is because of various factors, not all of which are in the applicant’s hands.

Although, applicants make many common mistakes that can be easily avoided by planning and being mindful of the information you are giving to the college/admission committee.

The mistakes or “red flags” might get your application rejected if you are not careful. 

3 College Application Mistakes that You are Probably Making

1. Not mentioning your necessary personal details: Context is the key.

Context is vital in the admissions process. Applicants from low socio-economic backgrounds or whose parents did not attend college have different measuring criteria than the affluent applicants. The latter has had many opportunities for personal and academic growth and exploration.

But context is much more inconsequential than socio-economic situation alone. Someone might have a learning disability or is physically handicap, or a parent has an addiction problem that has destroyed the students’ life. You are an ethnic minority in your context or the applicant pool for the college you are applying to.

Understand and reflect on your situation and try to see it from an objective perspective: What is your community? What kind of home life do you have? Then, let colleges know without any hesitation. Help the admissions committee to imagine you in your context, in a whole way as possible. Applicants who leave out this crucial personal backstory often lose out in the admissions game.

2. Lack of Vision and Self Confidence

One thing that would reject your application pretty quickly is when an applicant would say he wants to study at a specific college to get a good job upon graduation. 

Not everyone is destined to become an astronaut or a Nobel-prize-winning author or the United States president, but you definitely won’t get there. You need a vision and self-confidence to reach your full potential and achieve something. 

Remember, schools read applications contextually—for students going to a premier college and getting a high-paying, the white-collar job is ambitious. The admission committee knows this and adjusts their thinking accordingly. However, it’s easier to admit someone who has a compelling vision for his future will impress the reader that he will do something great with his education.

3. Scrappy activities list: You are what you do!

Many students are in the delusion that perfect grades and SAT scores will get them in the top colleges in the US; please get out of the illusion. What you do outside of the formal classroom—your extracurricular activities—is crucial to separate qualified applicants from desirable ones. So remember to fill out your activities list!

Mention the year(s) of participation, calculate the number of hours per week, and tell the school your role in each activity, mostly if you were a leader. Also, explain any unknown actions. Don’t forget to leave out something important to you because you think the admissions committee doesn’t care about your composting hobby. And, finally, do not submit a resumé instead of completing the activities list!


Finally, remember that sometimes denial isn’t your fault. There are often institutional priorities at play, such as a college looking for students from a specific geographic area, demographic group, or a different area of significant interest.

Usually, colleges have relationships with high schools where they have accepted students who have decided not to attend a particular college. If this happens, again and again, the college may be less likely to take students from that specific school, understanding that many students may choose a different college instead.

Do not blame it on yourself because there is nothing you can do about it, but the other mistake on this list should be avoided at all costs.


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