Common Application Mistakes to Avoid

Common College Application Mistakes to Avoid

Applying to colleges can be a very stressful process. You have to remember what each school requires and their deadlines. Sometimes, even the smallest mistakes can have big consequences. Below are the most common mistakes we see students make while they are navigating the college application process.

Application Mistake #1: Incorrect Information

Very seldom do students make major mistakes on their applications. However, small mistakes can complicate the process as much as large mistakes. This is the case when students submit incorrect information such as the wrong social security number, date of birth, type of application, term of application, or intended major. It is also very important that when you apply to college you use your legal name. Often students will list a nickname instead of their legal name (e.g. listing “Will” instead of “William). Any of these mistakes can cause a delay in your application because the school may not be able to match your transcripts and/or test scores to your application. 

Application Mistake #2: Not Proof-Reading

It never fails, each year I receive at least one email, essay or personal statement that references the wrong college. “I am so excited to be considered for the University of Central Ohio!” Well that’s great, but you have emailed the University of North Florida. We know that students are applying to multiple schools and will often use the same essay for different applications. However, we expect that students are at least taking the time to proof-read (or have someone else proof-read) your correspondence before you send it.

Listing the incorrect school is not the only problem with failing to proof-read. We see many instances of poor grammar, misspelled words, and heavy use of slang. You need to remember that you are corresponding with an institution of higher learning, not your best friend. Every email, letter, essay, and phone call should be professional in manner. Otherwise, a college may decide to give the scholarship or admissions spot to a student who knows that the word “I” is always capitalized.

Application Mistake # 3: Not Following Instructions or Adhering to Deadlines

If an application is supposed to be filled out a certain way or if an essay is supposed to have a specific format, you need to make sure you are adhering to those instructions. In some instances, a school may decide not to process your application or pass you over for a scholarship, simply because you cannot follow directions.

You also need to make sure that you meet the posted deadline. What this means is that you need to follow up to make sure your documents have been received prior to the deadline. It does not help to call the day after to see if everything got to where it needed to go, because it is too late at that point. Many deadlines are “hard” deadlines, meaning that if you do not meet them, you will not be considered. No exceptions.  

Application Mistake #4: Not Following Up on Submitted Documents

You should never assume that because you have sent something, or requested something to be sent, that the school actually received it. Most school will try to inform you of missing documents, but ultimately, it is your responsibility to check on the status of your documents (before the deadline). We receive phone calls from students asking why it has been months since they applied and haven’t heard anything. A simple phone call or a quick glance on the school’s website could have allowed the student to receive a decision in a timelier manner.

Watching out for these common mistakes can take the stress out of the application process and help you receive an admissions decision in a timely manner. If you have questions regarding an application to the University of North Florida our admissions coordinators are on hand to help Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Call (904) 620-5555 or e-mail

Good luck with your applications!

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