Ten ways seniors can still ruin your college applications

We're getting close to the end of college application season.  And unfortunately, the mad rush to finish can lead some seniors to making some big mistakes.  So here are some things to avoid.

And just to clarify, these are things you should not do.

1. If you send an email to an admissions office, completely ignore the standard rules of English grammar, capitalization and punctuation.

When you email each other, you and your friends might not care about anything other than just getting the basic point across. But colleges do. Emails devoid of things like punctuation and correct grammar make admissions officers wonder if you were too lazy to use them, or if you just didn't know how.  Both are equally bad.  

2. Do something goofy with your application.

What's goofy?  Sending a box of cookies to the admissions office with a note that says, "There's more where these came from if you admit me!"  That's goofy.  Seriously.  Don't do that (or anything like that).

3. Don't thank people who helped you, like your high school counselor or your teachers who wrote your letters of recommendation.

It's not unusual for a college to contact your counselor or one of your recommendation writers if they have a question about something that was unclear on your application.  If that were to happen, what final impression have you left on those people?  You wouldn't want your teacher to be thinking, "He's the kid who asked me to write his letter ten days before the deadline, gave me no supporting materials, and never bothered to say thank-you."  Be nice.  Say "Thank you."  Maybe even buy them a little gift.

4. Don't call the colleges to make sure they received all your application materials.  Just assume it all got there.

Testing agencies, teachers, counselors–a lot of people besides yourself are responsible for sending parts of your applications to colleges.  And colleges are absolutely inundated with materials at this time of year.  It's easy for something to get lost in the shuffle.  So follow up and make sure they've received everything for your applications. 

5. Stop studying and let your grades drop (Just hope that colleges won't notice).

A lot of colleges will ask to see your first semester grades before they admit you.  And I've yet to find a college who won't ask for your second semester grades before they let an admitted student become a freshman on their campus.  So don't let your senior celebration start too early.

6. Recycle an essay from another application but forget to switch out the college's name.

This is like phoning a girl to ask her to go out with you and calling her the wrong name.  It's not going to go over well.  And it happens a lot (the application mistake, I mean). 

7. Post some questionable pictures of yourself on your Facebook page.  And make it public for all the world to see.

Admissions officers have Facebook pages, too.  And they know how to use them.  So, no party pics.  No photos of you making obscene or lewd gestures at the camera.  No blog entries detailing things that you wouldn't want colleges to know about.  The internet is public (it is the world wide web, after all).  So keep  your content clean, and keep everything private so that only your friends can find your profile. 

8. Let your parents get way too involved.

Over-involved "helicopter parents" who fill out applications, help write essays, and call the admissions office repeatedly inadvertently paint a picture of a college applicant who can't/won't do things for himself.  I'm not suggesting that parents have to stay out of everything college-related.  Be a supporter.  Answer questions.  Maybe even help impose some organization.  But this should still be your kid's process. 

9.  Bend the truth as much as possible.

When you sign a college application, you are signing a document in which you are claiming that everything, to the best of your knowledge, is true and accurate.  You should never, ever sign a document that says that unless you feel comfortable that it's accurate.  So if you've bent the truth anywhere on your application, bend it back and be straight.  No college admissions officer in America will fight to admit you if you lie on your application, even a little bit.

10.  Don't bother checking your email regularly.

It's not unusual for colleges to communicate via email.  So check your email once a day, at least.  If you created a separate email address for your college applications (a good idea if your email address is sexypartyguy@email.com), don't forget that once you list it, you also need to check it.