Applying for colleges can be overwhelming, frustrating, redundant, and mind numbing, and that is putting it lightly. Anyone who has gone through the grueling application process likely has a plethora of stories to share about their experience, and those who have yet to begin the process likely have little idea about what lies ahead of them.
Depending on how many colleges you are applying to, the experience can vary, and it may be a relatively simple process for a lucky few, but let’s say you are applying to five colleges. That is five multi-page questionnaires, five admission essays about why education is important to you or some related run-of-the-mill topic, five confusingly high application fees, five schools to send recommendation letters to, and any other part of the application process that will leave you feeling utterly helpless and vulnerable upon submission. With the long list of application requirements that most colleges require, there is significant room for error.
My personal experiences varied between undergraduate college applications and graduate college applications. My memories of undergraduate applications weren’t as painful, likely because I had my parents help. My graduate school application process though aligned well with the nightmare experiences that many often hear about. I will say now though, before delving into my embarrassing errors and terrible experience and scaring off potential college applicants from the process all together, I did get into graduate school, and it was well worth the exhausting application process.
Now, when you are paying hundreds of dollars to send an application, it really is worth it to check, double, triple and quadruple check each part of your application before submitting it. That being said, when you have spent hours upon hours on the application process, you tend to get lazy, creating more room for embarrassing errors.
My first large error involved a GRE Subject Test. Not every graduate program requires these, but all of mine did. However, I underestimated the preparation time it would take, and as a result, I scored poorly…very poorly. This was not the error though. The error was having the score sent to all seven schools BEFORE personally seeing the score. So, hypothetically, let’s say I scored in the 8th percentile. Each of the schools I applied to received this horrible score and probably wondered why in the world I would send such a score. I felt like I was being on the ball, having the score sent as early as possible, but in reality it was probably the reason that I didn’t get into most of the schools on my list.
My second major error came with the statements of purpose, which are admission letters stating why you would like to attend the school you are applying to. I was proud of one letter in particular, so I decided to save myself some time and use it for another school, but simply change the school name. Well, when it came time to send the letter via e-mail, I attached the wrong letter, and the University read a letter that discussed my wish to attend a completely different University. In case you were all wondering, this does not look good.
I made plenty of small errors throughout the application process, and I was very fortunate to end up getting into my second choice school, but those two big mistakes stuck with me. Like I said, it is easy to get lazy. The process can be draining,but simply follow these simple tips:
- SLOW DOWN
- Don’t let your nerves get the best of you
- Pay attention to details
- Re-read your application materials
- Don’t get careless
Your education is important, and you won’t regret that extra attention. It will certainly pay off in the end.