Weekly College Column

More application mistakes to avoid

Hopefully, you’re winding down your application process. But if you still have applications to go, now is not the time to slow down or get sloppy. Below are several common mistakes that students continue to make despite admonitions from college admissions officers, guidance counselors, and yes, even parents!

1. Not taking your social media presence seriously.

Common wisdom states that if you don’t want your grandmother to see something, don’t post it. Your grandmother in this case is the college admissions office. Yes, many colleges do check Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. If you have posted something that is questionable, delete it. Colleges don’t typically spend a lot of time on the social media of their applicants, but frequently receive “tips” from parents or other students. I think it’s sad that the competitive nature of college admissions has led to this, but it’s our reality. Since applicants don’t typically have the opportunity for an interview or multiple “get-to-know-you” sessions, they review the information they’ve received.  Why ruin your chances before you’ve even applied?” If you’ve worked hard in high school and on your application, go the extra step of removing questionable content online.

2. Missing out on financial aid opportunities.

The FAFSA is just the first step when it comes to college funding. There are under-recognized savings opportunities, such as niche scholarships and in-state tuition reciprocity for some out-of-state applicants. You need to do your homework to tease out the best financial options for you. Take control and make sure you submit a complete and candid representation of your financial situation and your academic potential.

3. Making assumptions about the Common App

You’re all familiar with the adage “Don’t Assume – it makes an ASS of U and ME.” Unfortunately, too many students think that once they have filled out the Common App, they just point and click at the schools of interest, and they’re done. WRONG! Yes, you can apply to many schools via the Common App, but most schools require additional essays or materials.  That’s not something you want to find out at the eleventh hour. Create an application checklist that itemizes what each college requires and its optional materials. A wide range of colleges now offers students the opportunity to submit a resume.

4. Getting sloppy with cut and paste.

This is why you shouldn’t leave your essays and applications to the last minute. It seems so easy to copy and paste the “Why this college?” essay from one school to another, however, that is the antithesis of what colleges are looking for. They want to know why you want to go to their college and so that essay really requires personalization. Of course, then there are the students who blindly copy and paste the entire essay even when it mentions the name of the school in the essay. That’s an easy “no” from an admissions office.

Take a deep breath. For most of you, the process will be over in just over a month and that’s why it’s important to put your best effort in now. There will be plenty of time to relax during the waiting game.

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to: lee@bierercollegeconsulting.comwww.bierercollegeconsulting.com





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