Applying for college is exciting, but can also feel like a daunting feat. Sometimes students miss out on critical components of the application, or simply need a better approach and timeline to complete the process. Let’s cover some of the most basic yet easy mistakes prospective college students tend to make on these applications. 

Writing a too-generic personal essay

A personal essay or statement is your chance to show the admissions officers who you really are. Give them some clear context of your life experiences to work with as they make their decision. Your essay should be as unique as you are. Share your perspective, your dreams, and your passion. 

Your tone in this essay is a delicate balancing act. Steer clear of being cliche, and be careful of sensitive topics, such as highly political or religious motives. You don’t need to confess your sins in this essay, but you also don’t want to exaggerate your experiences. Demonstrate your values, but don’t focus too heavily on just one. Help them see what makes you unique, but don’t make the essay entirely about you—share about the leaders, mentors, and teachers in your life who have made an impact on you. If you need some extra direction, check out these 6 steps to writing a personal statement

Minimizing or exaggerating descriptions of extracurriculars

Detailing your extracurriculars through high school gives additional insight for the admissions board to understand who you are. Don’t be modest here—list all the activities you’ve been involved in, the hours per week you committed to it, and any significant achievements associated with those activities. 

But first, a word of caution: don’t exaggerate or appear too well-rounded. If your weekly activity hours add up to an impossible amount, the reader will question your honesty. And if you have a hand in every type of activity available, they’ll wonder where your passion is. It’s okay to have varying interests, but colleges also want to see that you have specific hobbies or talents that you can capitalize on. 

Lacking completeness and accuracy

Before you send in your application, be sure you’ve completed all the required fields and included all the needed documents. Many schools include financial aid applications in the admissions process, so ensure these are completed if your school requires them at this time. Or they may want to know of any scholarships or other financial aid you’ve already won, so see if you need to include this info, as well. (And if you’re still looking for scholarships to apply to, check out these easy scholarships from Bold and Wisegeek). 

Completing your application inaccurately is just about as bad as not completing it at all. Be sure you read and follow directions precisely. Proofread and edit—and have a parent, or other adult proofread too—till you have a refined finished product. Don’t just copy and paste answers and essays from one application to another. Instead, customize your responses to the specific school you are applying to. And finally, submit as early before the deadline as you can. 

On your own, it could be easy to miss these common mistakes. But you’re no ordinary student. Follow these tips to avoid these types of blunders, and you’ll stand out from the crowd of other applicants. Good luck!

This article was contributed by Tiffany Park and the editorial team at WiseGeek. Please check out the amazing content they regularly put out at https://www.wisegeek.com/.

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