Application Mistakes

Parent College Coach Tip #70: Don’t Make These Fatal Application Mistakes

The college application is the place for your teen to put their best foot forward. It’s what colleges use to get to know your teen and find out if they want them to be a part of their college community.

It’s crucial for your student to market herself to the colleges; and that marketing means putting her best foot forward.

RELATED: Advice for Middle School Parents

Following are some application mistakes your teen should avoid when completing the college application:

  1. Not knowing what “prepared” means—The worst trait your teen can have during this process is procrastination. It will show in the application if they wait until the last minute to write their essay or ask for a recommendation letter that had to be rushed. Remember our motto: Preparation Prevents Panic!
  2. Just being yourself—You want to make sure that your teen shows their BEST self, not their WORST self (immature, spontaneous, impulsive, overly blunt). It will come across in the application and the essay and turn admissions officers off.
  3. Nothing turns you on—Your teen needs to find their passion and focus on that. There’s no room for mediocrity or complacency in the admissions process.
  4. Not  understanding leadership—Encourage your teen to show the college that they have something to contribute in the essay or the interview. It’s a quality they look for when they are perusing those “average” applications.
  5. Seeming  like a “threat”Appearing aggressive or competitive in the essay will send up red flags. If your teen appears to always want to be number one and not a team player, it communicates that they can’t fit in to the student body.
  6. Social insensitivity—Criticizing someone’s race, religion or sexual preference in a college essay or interview is an absolute no-no. All colleges are looking for diversity. Your teen needs to show they will contribute and embrace this philosophy.
  7. Dependence—If there is too much parent involvement in the application process, colleges will assume that this will continue and make them question your teen’s ability to function well independently of their parents.
  8. Going negative—Encourage your teen to stay positive in the essay and positive in the interview. Negativity makes a strong impression and it’s not the one you want them to remember.
  9. Exclusivity—Don’t appear to be a snob. College is about building bridges and exploring all types of cultures and social classes. If your teen acts like they are better than everyone else, it’s hard to justify placing that type of student into a diverse campus.
  10. Wasting your special qualifications—If your teen is a seasoned videographer, let the college know. If your teen knows how to run their own business, this is the time to blow that horn.
  11. Not learning from rough times—We all have those times when we make mistakes, mess up, and struggle. If the college can see that your teen has learned from those times, they will see their potential as a problem solver and an overcomer.
  12. Sitting there waiting—A wait list or deferral letter is a request for more information. It’s up to your teen to show them more of their best self. The ones that wait and do nothing will be at the bottom of the list.
Parents – Want more Parent tips? GET THEM HERE!

Check out my guide for parents: Parents Countdown to College Crash Course

Want to talk with Suzanne one-to-one?

suzanne arrow


Click the arrow to learn how!

Don’t forget to read all of the Scholarship Mom Tips here.