Make no mistake

Counselors offer advice for avoiding common problems on college applications
Thursday, December 11, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:39 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It’s the time of year when high school seniors across the country are sending in their college applications — mistakes and all.

Kim Girse, college and career counselor for Rock Bridge High School, said that some of the most frequent mistakes prospective college students make are in grammar, spelling and legibility.

“I compare it to writing a resume,” Girse said. “Spelling and grammar mistakes just make it look bad.”

Ann Landes, a guidance director for Hickman High School, said that most of the mistakes she sees are minor, such as not signing the application. But when it comes to college essays, she said, students need to consider what is being requested.

“You can’t just write one essay and expect that it will work for every school,” Landes said.

Here are some suggestions to help college applicants prevent common mistakes on their applications. The suggestions are compiled from guidance and admissions officers by ACT, an organization that produces a major college admissions exam.

1. Make sure to check your spelling and grammar. Misspellings or misuse of words show that the applicant doesn’t care enough to double-check.

2. If the application is sent online, confirm that the college or university received it.

3. Don’t forget to sign the application.

4. Read forms carefully. For example, if the application wants to know the county you are from, the United States isn’t the answer.

5. Don’t list extracurricular activities that you’re not involved in. The college or university might check with your high school.

6. Make sure to have your guidance counselor review your applications. This way your counselor can make sure there are no mistakes.

7. Write legibly. Remember, first impressions count.

8. Use an e-mail address that colleges won’t laugh at. Even if your friends think the address funny, it doesn’t mean the admissions committee will.

9. If you put an e-mail address on an application, check your e-mail account regularly. You don’t want to miss any important information.

10. Do not let your mom or dad fill out your application. Those who review it can usually tell the difference and will send the application back to the student, Girse said.

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