Our Collegewise counselors are in the heart of college
application season with our seniors. And while we'll certainly help to
ensure that our applicants don't make spelling errors or mistakenly write,
"I love Duke so much, my internal organs actually ache," in an essay
being sent to NYU, there are other mistakes seniors should avoid that might not
be quite so obvious. So this month, we're sharing five things seniors
should never do when applying to college.
1. Don't use an embarrassing email address.
We've seen students list some pretty questionable email addresses on college
applications. And by "questionable," we mean that we felt
compelled to ask, "Do you email your mother from that email address?" We're not suggesting that admissions officers make decisions
based on whether or not they like your email address. But that doesn't
mean it's a good idea to run the risk. It's fine to have an email address
with a little personality and verve. Videogamer@email.com is fine.
Britlitreader@email.com might even score you some likeability points. And
we're fairly certain that firstname.lastname@example.org would at the very least go
over well with schools in the Boston
area. But if it's an email address you'd hide from your parents, get a
different one (a different address, not a different parent) to use just for
2. Don't answer your cell phone unless the conditions
Imagine your cell phone rings while you're in a car with your friends, music
blaring at top volume, your friends viciously taunting you for making a poor
ringtone choice, and the voice you hear on the phone says, "Hi, this is James, your Harvard interviewer, calling
to schedule our interview. But, um, this sounds like it might be a bad
time for you."
We don't know about you, but that's not a scenario in which we'd be able to put
our best phone foot forward. For the next few months, consider answering
unidentified calls only when you are in a quiet place and able to talk.
Otherwise, let the call go to voicemail. If you get a voicemail from a
college rep, collect your thoughts, find a quiet place, and call back within
10-15 minutes. And while you're at it, you might want to make sure your
outgoing voicemail is something you'd be comfortable with a college
3. Don't be afraid to show some humility.
One way to stand out when you're applying to college is to be comfortable
admitting what you don't know, or what you aren't good at, or what you didn't
do right. Colleges don't expect you to be perfect, but few people are
mature and confident enough to admit their weaknesses. So if a college
asks you if you've ever been disciplined, and you, in fact, did get suspended
from school for doing something stupid when you were a freshman, admit you made
a stupid decision when you were fifteen. If you got a "D" in
it was all your fault, don't make excuses; tell them you didn't study as much
as you should have and you've never let it happen again. The mistakes
have been made already. It's better to own up to them than to make
excuses or just hope the colleges won't care or notice. And if you're
still not sure whether or not to mention something, check with your high school
4. Don't be intimidated–in fact, be confident!
Getting into college is a lot like dating–confidence is more attractive than
sheer desperation. Be yourself and be proud of who you are. That
means you should feel free to admit that you and your friends willingly spend
your lunches solving math problem sets, or that you love being on the cross
country team even though you were the slowest runner in the league, or that you
are the only member of the football team who also plays the tuba (and loves
it). The most successful students in the college application process are
the ones who are proud, confident and comfortable with who they are. So
when filling out your applications, look for opportunities to show flashes of
the real you. Colleges will love the opportunity to get to know you
5. Don't give everyone in cyberspace access to your Facebook
(or any other social networking site's) page.
Admissions officers are not that much older than you are. They don't just
know about Facebook; they're on Facebook. And they know how to use
it. We're not suggesting admissions officers have the time or inclination
to look up every applicant. But it has certainly happened before.
So unless you want the pictures and comments on your page to do the talking for
you, familiarize yourself with the "private" function so that only
your friends can see your profile.