Choosing a school because of your friends
As tempting as it may be, it’s best not to base your selection on where your friends are going. Keeping your eyes on your own goals, look at programs, faculties, support services, resources and location as the key deciding factors. Remember, attending university means spreading your own wings, and part of the new experience is to make new friends and meet new people. Friends have to start leading separate lives at some point, whether they move away to advance their careers, buy a house or start a family. Besides, true friends maintain their relationships no matter how far the distance!
Not checking grammar and spelling when applying
Make sure you perform a spell and grammar check for all your documents — though pressing the button on your computer is not enough. Carefully proofread your documents after a good night’s sleep and get help from a trusted older sibling, friend or parent when editing. A fresh pair of eyes always sees more. Editing involves more than correcting a spelling or placing a hidden comma, by the way. It also means checking the word count to omit unnecessary verbiage and thinking through the best possible organization of your materials.
Getting others to write your personal statements and forms
I suggested above having others check your work when it’s done, but allowing older siblings, cousins, friends or your parents to write your personal statement, for example, is dishonest and definitely a mistake. The document is called a personal statement for a reason. Supplementary applications and supplementary information forms offer an opportunity for you to showcase your leadership and communication skills to universities when they decide on admissions. Believe me: admission committees can tell when the statements are written by upper-year students (veterans versus potential candidates), and they won’t appreciate it.
Making false claims
Incorrect grades and information on applications have severe consequences. Sometimes students have to write a letter to explain why the grades were incorrect. False information also leads to the dismissal of applications. If you have an interview, for example, and have fudged your volunteer experience, trips taken, books read or anything else, the truth may very well surface in conversation and get you into trouble. You probably have enough amazing things in your life to give a good impression without lying, so best steer clear of dishonest claims.
Wrong university name
After lots of reading and thinking, you have finally narrowed your selection and decided to apply to your top five universities. You start composing your required documents. Preparing documentation for several universities, you eventually find yourself in autopilot mode, paying less and less particular attention. Believe me, I know how easy it is to mix up the documents and end up with the incorrect university name on a document — and it looks really bad, potentially jeopardizing your application. So take breaks while preparing your documents and, if possible, focus on one university per day.
The wrong email or mailing address
This common mistake happens more often than you think. I am guilty of it, so double-check the addresses, especially the email one. This is a minor error with big consequences, so make sure the application goes where it needs to. And: hit the send button. I have had messages that I composed and then forgot to send, leaving them happily sitting in my draft folder doing nothing. So make it a habit to check the status of the email in your sent folder. If you have sent documents via snail mail, you can follow up with the university to make sure it received your documents.
You get an offer but your grades drop during the second term of grade twelve
You work tirelessly the entire year and finally get an offer from your favoured university. Suddenly you feel comfortable, let loose and all the effort you have been putting into ensuring you find an acceptance letter in your mailbox vanishes, making your grades slide. Universities have the right to revoke their offers. So don’t get comfortable until final exams are over!
That’s it for today. Have questions or thoughts? Comment below or contact me at @yorkustudents. Till next time!