First let's take a look at common application requirements.
College Application Requirements
- High School Transcripts. Colleges require high schools to submit official transcripts outlining your coursework and grades. Challenge yourself throughout your high school career and work hard to keep your grades up.
- SAT & ACT scores. Research average scores at colleges to find out where yours fit in. Your test scores should be consistent with your grades. Some colleges don't require students to take the SAT or ACT. If this is the case, only submit your scores if you think they will help your application.
- Essays. Your college essay demonstrates your writing ability and tells the reader something about you that may not be evident on your admission application. Read tips on writing your essay.
- Letters of recommendation. Request letters of recommendation from teachers who know you and the quality of your work. Limit recommendations from other adults to school administrators, supervisors or coaches.
- Activities, leadership and initiative. A long-term commitment to activities that demonstrate initiative and leadership are important to many colleges. Involvement in sports, student government or other activities shows your individuality.
- Community service. A steady commitment to a public service organization is more valuable than a short-time volunteer position.
- Part-time jobs or internships. Job experience and/or internships help demonstrate your work ethic and maturity.
- Awards. If you have received honors or awards, you'll want to make sure admissions officers know about it.
Avoid these College Application Mistakes
Wouldn't it be a shame if the college application of a brilliant, deserving student didn't make it in the final cut because certain credentials and civic accomplishments were not properly noted? Wouldn't it be even worse if it never made it due to a spelling or grammatical error?
Below is a list of common mistakes you must avoid when filling out a college application:
- Misspellings: Ask an English teacher or highly educated friend or family member to edit your college application prior to submission. Misspellings are unacceptable.
- Grammatical errors: Once again, have someone revise your college application for you. The more revisions, the better.
- Lack of leadership examples: Mention every club, any volunteering you've done, every church play you've participated in, fundraising events, etc.
- Bad Handwriting: There is a reason why some college applications must be handwritten, and you will be rejected if it isn't legible or clearly and professionally written.
Let the Student Do the Legwork
Although many parents mean well when helping their child apply for college, too much parental involvement in the process can be a big problem.
Parents need to remain objectively-interested in the process because they can be critical resources in helping the child plan a timeline to ensure prompt submission of applications, in identifying strengths and weaknesses of particular schools, and in helping the child determine which college would best fit their needs. Parental involvement will ensure that a child remains practical and grounded during the decision process.
However, parents must keep in mind that a college should be judging a student on that student's merits, not your own. Students must show their ability to think, problem solve, and communicate in their college applications. If you are doing the work on the applications, the student's true self may not shine through.