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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

5 Common Application Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

College application season is upon us!

Yes, we know it is difficult to keep your unbridled excitement in check, but we ask that you do refrain from whooping—it scares the Admission Counselors (they're rather twitchy this time of year).

Though AVID and AP classes and general experience have no doubt made you an expert already, we at Marymount California University thought it might be helpful to let you know about five common application mistakes we see almost daily...and the best way to avoid them.

So, yeah. Here they are.

1. Optional doesn't really mean optional. 

I mean, according to the dictionary it does, but in the world of College Admission, "optional" can be roughly translated as "we're not going to demand that you do this, but we didn't list it on the application because we like the sound of our keyboard." The more "complete" your application, the easier our decision becomes.This goes for both credentials you send us, and questions on the application itself.

P.S. "Highly recommended" is tantamount to an "iceberg warning" during early 20th century cross-Atlantic sea travel. Ignore at your own risk.

2. I didn't (or did) apply because of the application fee (or lack thereof).

Application fees, like all fees, are no fun. We don't like charging them. You don't like paying them. But, often, they're a necessary evil that allows us to do fun stuff like host our application online and feed the poor soul who is standing behind the booth at your local college fair. Still, they shouldn't make or break your decision.

  • If  you can't afford the fee at a school you really like...ask for a fee waiver. Easy peasy. You can get them from your high school counselor, the College Board, and often from the college itself.
  • If you are applying to a school simply because it's free...make sure you actually are interested in something other than the free-ness. It doesn't do anybody any favors to send an application you never intend to actually complete. 

3. I over-thought the essay, and now I've conveyed the sense that I am an ascetic monk with an abundant fondness for cliche metaphors. 

The essay should be the least stressful part of the whole process. Just pick a story that shows something you like about yourself (within the topic, if there is one), and write it in your own voice. It doesn't have to be the next great American novel—we're just looking for a way to get to know your interests and personality. Make it fun, and if you're worried about your writing skills, have your teacher or counselor help you edit it.

If you're stuck on the topic, check out our list of things we don't enjoy reading about.

4. Duck Dynasty is on tonight. I will therefore put off my application for several months. 

Nothing is more stressful than hail-Mary-ing your application at the penultimate moment. It's always better to apply early. Always.


5. I am panicking. I'm not going to get into my schools and  I hate this and this is stupid and I hate this stupid hatefulness of hate! *Hyperventilate*

Yeah, it's a big decision and a time of transition, and that is a perfect recipe for stress. We remember. But it's our job as Admission Professionals to make the process as easy as possible, and also to make sure that you get into the right college. Yes, that is really our goal. We want to help you. So don't be afraid to ask us for help; it's our favorite thing ever.

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