It’s the last week in October, which means that high school seniors are scrambling to finish their college applications in time for November 1 deadlines.  In their hurry to submit applications, students often forget the most important thing: proofreading!  Below is a picture of one of my student’s applications.  Fortunately for him, I proofread his application (as I do for all of my students) and caught his mistake.

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In case you’re wondering, he meant to write “Dean’s List”.

My student and I both had a good laugh about this, but so would an admissions officer if my student had submitted his application this way.  In fact, admissions officers love to share stories about students whose applications are rife with typos and misspelled words, or, worse yet, whose essays mention the names of other colleges.  That’s probably the biggest mistake you can make, and it happens numerous times at numerous colleges every year.

I recently heard a high school counselor advise students not to put a college’s name in an essay, as a means of preventing such a mix-up.  But many applications ask students to write an essay explaining why they’re interested in that college, and it’s nearly impossible to do that without mentioning the college’s name.  My advice is that you DON’T copy and paste one such essay from one application to another.  Instead, write a different essay from scratch for each school.  Not only will you be less likely to commit the faux pas of using the wrong college’s name, you also will ensure that you’re offering specific, unique reasons why you want to attend that school.

In addition to proofreading applications yourself, it never hurts to have someone else look over them.  Whether it’s your parent, your high school counselor, or an independent consultant, another set of eyes may catch mistakes that you overlooked.

So, in conclusion, I’ll say it again (because I really can’t stress it enough): PROOFREAD your applications!