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Seven Ways Students Applying to College Screw Up Badly

Sep 16, 2008
Most students applying to college have worked hard to get good grades in challenging courses and earn solid ACT or SAT scores. That's why it's sad to see so many of them make mistakes big enough to hurt their chances of getting into their colleges of choice.

We're about to look at seven mistakes college applicants make. Some are hard to believe...at least hard for me to believe...but I've witnessed all of them. And, I've seen all of them contribute to students being denied admission to a college, university, and/or graduate school.

1. Would you believe that students sometimes wear t-shirts with off color...even obscene...messages? Believe it...it's true.

2. An otherwise exceptional candidate killed her chance of being admitted to a doctoral program when an influential admissions committee member was offended by the "provocative" outfit she wore to her admissions interview.

3. Do you know anybody with an email address their mother or clergyman might find offensive? Save them a possible college denial by telling them they'll need another email address when applying to college. Trust me; providing a college with a potentially offensive email address is not as uncommon as you might guess.

4. All to often, students reveal too many and/or too serious personal issues and problems in their essays.

5. All too often, students' voicemail messages are tasteless, inane, or both. Do you think an admissions counselor who may have 10 students to call wants to spend 60 seconds listening to jokes or music before he/she can leave a message?

6. I know of students who have been denied admission, at least in part, because they were "no shows" for scheduled campus admissions appointments.

7. I know of a student who took a call in the middle of an admissions interview. Guess what kind of admissions decision she got?

These seven mistakes do not comprise a comprehensive list of college applicants' serious errors. But, they are a good demonstration of how seriously they can, and sometimes do, hurt themselves.

In the college admissions process, everything counts. Good manners, maturity, and apparent good judgement may help compensate for small shortfalls in other areas. Conversely, good grades and test scores may be partially or fully offset by boorishness, bad manners, and/or immaturity.
About the Author
Dr. Casper Poodel is a veteran professional educator who contributes information to websites which assist students in selecting an appropriate online college and earning an online degree appropriate for their career goals.
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