Biggest Mistakes Students Make in the Admissions Process

“What is the biggest mistake students make in the admissions process?”

This question was recently posted by an Independent College Counselor on one of the online forums that I follow. It received 53 replies from admissions officers and the answers will surprise you.

Of course, many mentioned the importance of context–explaining your circumstances, especially if there are financial difficulties or other personal hardships. But, hands down, the biggest pet peeve is how students communicate.

These days, students are so used to texting that they never learn how to use the basic tools of business communication like email and phone calls. Yet, these skills are absolutely necessary for everything from internships to summer jobs to college apps. But, don’t take my word for it. Take theirs!

According to admissions officers, these are some of the typical mistakes that students make:

  • Not using or checking their email, especially when colleges are sending information about their application status.
  • Using a high school email account that will expire when they graduate.
  • Multiple email accounts. Students should create one account and use it when they inquire, when they apply, and when they register.
  • Emails with nicknames or funny phrases like
  • Not using/checking their assigned college email once they’ve been accepted. 
  • Not having voicemail set up. Believe it or not, there are some instances when a college might need to contact you for additional information.
  • Letting parents fill out the application or contact the college on their behalf.
  • Not visiting the school (or at least taking a virtual tour) or meeting the local rep if they come to your school.
  • Being afraid to say “no.” It is very important for students to clearly communicate when they are no longer interested. That simple courtesy allows the college to stop spending time (and resources) reaching out to uninterested students and also opens up space for students who are.

Special thanks to Ashley Allen Seeley for posting the original question and sparking a very interesting conversation!

Thanks for sharing!

Author: Alison

Alison Cotter helps individuals tell their story. Whether it's a college application essay or a personal memoir, Alison guides her clients through the process of finding their story and getting it on paper.

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