The 6 Most Common Mistakes Students Are Making on their College Apps

Between the various forms, transcripts, main essays, supplemental essays, short answers, recommendation letters, and fees, there are a lot of different parts to your various college applications. In other words, there is a lot of room for error. In the many rounds of college admissions we’ve helped students through, these are the six most common mistakes students are making on their college applications.

Not properly utilizing the “Activities” section

This section might seem pretty basic, but it’s one of the most important sections of your entire application. That means it’s a good idea for students to make sure it’s pretty dang flawless. Many students don’t list their activities in an effective way, or don’t make a big impression with their descriptions. At our College Admissions Workshop, we focus on this section and ensure that it’s done right.

Making basic grammatical, punctuation, and capitalization mistakes

Maybe it’s because we’re so spoiled with tools like autocorrect, but apparently we’ve forgotten how important it is to use proper capitalization, punctuation, and so forth. It’s true – we constantly see basic mistakes like names and street addresses beginning with lowercase letters. It’s so important to double-check your application in its entirety to make sure you haven’t accidentally made one of these silly little errors.

Not double-checking and correcting formatting issues

When you write your answers in one application and paste them into CommonApp or ApplyTexas, there are often formatting issues. We’re talking strange spaces, special characters, and line breaks coming out of nowhere! One mistake we see often is simply that the student hasn’t double-checked and fixed these various formatting issues, which obviously makes the application stand out in all the wrong ways.

Not replacing school names in their essays

Have you ever received a text that wasn’t meant for you? Submitting an essay to UT Austin talking about Rice is pretty much the academic equivalent. If you’re applying to several schools, you’ll likely repurpose one essay for all of your applications. It’s crucial that you check, double-check, and maybe even triple-check that you’ve replaced the school name in each essay so that the right school is getting the right essay. We’ve seen it happen and it’s not a good look!

Missing various deadlines

Between deadlines for various applications, scholarships, financial aid, and so on… well, there are a lot of dates to keep up with. We often see students struggling to keep up with them, or even missing them entirely. After all, senior year is busy enough! This is yet another reason why our College Admissions Workshop can be such a lifesaver – it’s much easier to meet all those deadlines when your applications are done and dusted before the school year even begins.

Procrastinating their recommendation letter requests

In the whirlwind of college admissions, we often see students waiting too long to ask teachers for recommendation letters. That’s a huge no-no. Not only are teachers massively busy, they often get asked to write recommendation letters for several students. That said, they need time! Don’t wait until a week before a deadline to ask for your letter.

While these are the mistakes we see repeatedly, they certainly aren’t the only ones applicants are liable to make. That’s why the benefits of working with seasoned pros through the application process can’t be overstated! Email us at, and ask about our one-on-one college coaching. Our expert coaches and editors will ensure you haven’t made any of these listed or unlisted mistakes, and you can submit your applications with total confidence!