Most Common College Application And Research Mistakes

Some students just go for the closest university. They can offer insight into what a university is really like, too!

Updated June 14, 2023 · 1 Min Read is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

Take our quiz and we'll do the homework for you! Compare your school matches and apply to your top choice today.

Getting Accepted: Common College Application and Research Mistakes

From starting the process too late to sending in sloppy work, here are the most common mistakes students and parents make when it comes to researching and applying to colleges.

Prospective college student survey (1)

College search progress: Percentage of participants

Haven’t started searching for colleges 24%
Have started search 38%
Have decided on college(s) but not applied 24%
Have applied to at least one college 14%
The top factor in admission decisions continues to be the academic rigor of students’ high school courses. (2)
[statbox title="Average acceptance rate at a four-year college" subtitle="(2)" content="64.7%"] [statbox title="Percentage of college applicants who were accepted into their top-choice school" subtitle="(3)" content="76.7%"]

Research Blunders

Search for programs that match your interests, ask questions and avoid these typical research mistakes. (4)

Pleasing Mom and Dad
Don’t just look for schools your parents want you to attend. Make sure and check out the schools you’re into, too!
Only Looking Local
Some students just go for the closest university. Check out schools around the nation—or even world—to find a school that matches your program needs and intended major.
Not Reaching Out to Alumni
Recent alumni, or even current students, are invaluable. They can offer insight into what a university is really like.
Ignoring Statistics
You may really want to attend the same school as your friend. But if you find out that school has a very low graduation or job placement rate, you may want to think again.

Application Errors

Your application is a time for you to shine. Don’t dull your chances and avoid these common mistakes. (4)

Waiting Until the Last Minute
Missing an application deadline could mean missing out on important scholarship packages or early approval status.
Not Proofreading
The application process can be a long one, so it may be tempting to press that “Submit” button as soon as you see it. But make sure to go back and proofread your app at least once.
Writing a Generic Essay
Many schools want to hear specifics about why you would be a good fit for their program. Sending them a one-size-fits-all essay doesn’t make you stand out as a candidate. It makes you look lazy.
Lying About Grades or Extracurricular Activities
Just don’t do it. Colleges require high school transcripts, so they’ll definitely find out and nix your application right away.



Online College Resources

Helping you prepare and gain the most out of your educational experience.