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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)
Average acceptance rate at a four-year college
Percentage of college applicants who were accepted into their top-choice school
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.
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.
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