College students usually like to give high school students a lot of advice because, suddenly, when you’ve graduated high school, you know every piece of the college admissions process. No one can make a specific recipe for what should be done, because only the applicant knows the details of his or her application and story. But here are some general advices on what you should definitely avoid.
1. Lie on Your Application
This one is pretty much common sense (I hope). You should never lie on your application. You should not write essays about a life experience you didn’t have. You should not get a friend to pretend to be a teacher and write you a recommendation. You most definitely should not falsify your grades. Every part of your application should be truthful and representative of who you are. Admissions officers read thousands of applications each season. They can usually pinpoint the liars. And when they do, you will be in lots of trouble. If your self-reported grades are not representative of your transcript, your acceptance can be rescinded. As my Dean of Admissions said, “I brought you into this university, therefore I can take you right back out.”
2. Appeal Directly to an Admissions Officer in Your Essay
This is agreed upon by most as a bad idea. It’s like a candidate up for election that directly tells people to vote for him or her. You don’t do that. Give reasons on why you should be accepted and how you could add to the college’s community or whatever they ask you. But don’t address an admissions officer to ask to be accepted. It’s unprofessional, and kind of cheesy.
3. Drop the Wrong Name
This is also common sense, but an easy careless mistake. In any form of communication with the admissions office (especially your essay), make sure you’re addressing the college you’re addressing. I once addressed Princeton as Stanford in an email and they were kind enough to disregard it, but it definitely isn’t advised. It shows that you don’t care enough about the college to proofread an essay or an email. It’s easy enough to catch the mistake, so don’t make it!
4. Have a Safety School Attitude
What this means is that you shouldn’t be overly confident about your chances. Confidence is good, but if you’re too arrogant, you’re more likely to be lax about your application to that college, and you may not get in. Make sure your safety schools are actual safety schools. www.safetyschool.org is not a safety school, no matter how much Harvard likes to think it is. Everyone has different safety schools, so make sure you know yours.
5. Have Your Parents Bombard You and/or Admissions
It’s bad if you’re stressed because your parents are demanding you apply to 98 of the first 100 colleges on the rankings. It’s even worse
if admissions officers are stressed because your parents are demanding them to accept you. Make sure you tell your parents how you’re going to handle the admissions process and make sure they understand why they really should not call the admissions office everyday. They’re human too. They get annoyed. Your application already depends heavily on chance (i.e. whether your admissions officer had coffee before reading your essay–check out this article). You don’t want to add any preventable negative associations with your name.
By no means is this an exhaustive list. But it’s a start. Stay away from these, and you’ll have a much better chance at making it into the college of your choice!