College Application Checklist

The 5 Most Common College Application Mistakes… And How To Avoid Them

The college application process is a lot to handle. Often times it can overwhelm high school kids. But it is clearly an extremely important step in the college planning process, which is why I’ve developed this College Application Checklist for you.

College Application Mistake #1: Failure to follow directions. This one seems pretty straightforward. But I can’t tell you how many times my team and I have reviewed applications for kids who provided unnecessary information. Or even worse, they miss a deadline. The trick is that just about every application is different in some way. Make sure you and your student are aware of this fact and complete each application with care. Have a friend or counselor review it. (You’re going to hear me repeat this key point a lot.)

College Application Mistake #2: A weak application essay. This is your child’s chance to really stand out in a crowd. High test scores, good grades, and plenty of activities are a dime a dozen at elite schools. The essay is what can set you apart. Make sure the essay is unique. The easy way to do that is to have it written in your child’s own voice. And by own voice I mean sharing something that is both personal and thoughtful about them.

College Application Mistake #3: Sending an incomplete application. The only thing worse than the wrong information is missing information. This comes across as sloppy, and conveys the notion that your student doesn’t care. Get it reviewed!

College Application Mistake #4: Questionable remarks and photos of themselves on social media websites. For Twitter teens and generation Facebook, this can be an admission killer. For all the popularity that social media has gained, it has its downsides. Just about anyone can learn more about you by looking online. This can help or it can hurt your kid’s admission chances. Curse words, inappropriate comments, and illicit photos that admission officers find on the internet connected to your child can crush the chances for acceptance faster than Usain Bolt in the 100 meter dash.

Make sure Facebook, MySpace, and other internet information about your child is clean of any questionable content.

College Application Mistake #5: Include any and all information. If for some reason your child had a drop in academic performance one semester because of some family tragedy, illness, or other situation, admission officers are going to want to know what happened. You’re better off addressing it right up front in the application, which can be done in either the appropriate space provided on the application or in a teacher’s recommendation letter.

*Publisher’s College Application Checklist Note: Make sure to have at least one or two people (a guidance counselor, teacher, friend, or parent) look over your application to see if you’ve missed anything. The little things can really hurt your chances for admission. Having a proofreader or two helps to eliminate those little mistakes. After all, spellchecker is not enough – just because something is spelled right doesn’t mean it makes sense.

To your successful college search,

Scott Weingold
Publisher, College Made Simple

P.S. Here’s a link to more college funding reports from our web site.

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News,, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.