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Dangerous Mistakes Students Make During the Application Process

Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, a local or an international student, an applicant to the United States or Canadian institutions, you will want to make sure you avoid these dire mistakes students so often make during the application process which severely cost them.

1. Waiting until the last minute to start or submit an application.

Procrastination is indeed the thief of time! If you are applying to schools in the USA especially, you will want to make sure that all your application materials are submitted by the stated deadline as you may not be given the opportunity to turn it in afterwards. Once you decide on studying abroad, you should dedicate at least 3 months towards putting together a stellar application. Starting early will definitely save you the headache of cramming everything together at the last moment.

2. Providing last minute notifications to potential recommenders.

For most schools, especially the ones where you are targeting a scholarship, you would most definitely be required to provide at least 2 professional recommendation letters. As a sign of courtesy, you will want to give enough notification to your recommenders so they are able to write a good and strong recommendation letter on your behalf. Actually, once you decide to begin the application process, you should have a list of potential recommenders on file and reach out to them immediately. There may be some recommenders who may end up disappointing you, hence the reason you must give them your own deadline, aside of the school's deadline. By doing this, you avoid finding yourself in a sticky situation in the event things don't pan out in your direction. (Our article on this particular topic was featured on the website of World Education Services and you will want to check it out here.)

3. Applying exclusively to only the "well - known" schools.

Yes, we get it! It's always been your dream to attend an "Ivy League" and now the time is here, you're solely committed to applying to these schools. While the decision is yours to make at the end of the day, it is important to realize that there is intense competition in these schools, especially at the undergraduate level. As such, although you may be ranked the best student from your most recent institution attended, you will very much be disappointed to learn your application to some of these 'well - known' schools was unsuccessful. The good news is, there are so many other good schools, which may not be as popular as the "Ivy Leagues", but also offer great opportunities to students, many of who have gone on to be nationally recognized in their respective fields of expertise.

4. Shying away from sending applications to certain schools because of the high cost of application fees.

Can you recall that time you were about to apply to a certain school, but then, you came across the cost of the application fee and suddenly became disinterested in applying? Don't let the cost of application fees discourage you from sending those applications just yet! It's quite understandable how high the cost of application fees can be, but until you explore and maximize all your opportunities on securing an application fee waiver, do not throw in the towel! Often times, schools issue out fee waivers for applicants during various times of the application season and as such, you must be on the lookout for these waiver codes, especially in your email. By subscribing to a schools mailing list, attending one of their virtual fairs or webinars, visiting their campus or simply by asking for a fee waiver, you just may end up hitting the jackpot and saving some money.

5. Submitting an application without having it reviewed by another person.

No matter how good of a student you think you are, you can never be sure that you've got all your grammar and punctuations right, especially in your personal statement. As such, you need to have another eye review your resume before hitting the submit button. You could ask friends who've successfully been through the process or even your teachers or recommenders to give your application a look. As always, you will want to make sure they have enough time to honor your request and so, early notification will be required on your part.

6. Falsifying information on your application.

Falsifying information on your application could lead to severe consequences such as termination from the school in the event your lie is eventually found out. It could also impact admissions decision as well as lead to other consequences such as how much aid you are offered from a school depending on how you respond to the financial aid questionnaire. In as much as you want your application to look perfect, you need to try as much as possible to present an application that represents you as the individual. For undergraduate students, you may think falsifying information of your rather great financial need may lead to a better chance of an admission offer, when in reality, it may actually hurt your chances of getting any substantial financial aid from the school in the event you are offered an admission. In all honesty, if a school really wants you and you are also a good match for the school you are applying to, there will be no need to falsify any statement on your application.

7. Applying to schools without doing research.

Research cannot be over emphasized especially when it comes to searching for which schools to apply to. What may work for one individual may personally not work for you, and as such, you must spend some time researching the schools you intend to apply to in order to gauge if it may be a good fit for you. Some students often make the mistake of applying to certain schools based on the fact that a friend attended there or purposely because of the school's prestige, which may not always end up working well for them. Searching for a school should be a moment of self - introspection. It's important to know what you want in a school and then, apply to a school which has the potential of fitting your needs. While you can always transfer out to a different institution if you find yourself in a school that ends up not being a good fit, you honestly wouldn't want to have to go through the application process again.

8. Ignoring the admission requirements of institutions.

Each institution has it's own admission requirements, most of which are usually stated explicitly on their website to guide prospective applicants. While some schools may require an official transcript of academic records from a school official to make an admission decision, others will be willing to accept a copy from students. It's important to note that there are certain programs in some schools that will require students to have met certain grades in their course subjects or obtained a minimum standardized test score in order for their application to be reviewed by their admissions team. In order to save not only your time, but also any money which may be spent on application fees or other related application cost, make sure you are able to meet or have met all the school's admission requirements stated online before you even decide to start an application. While some schools may give you the opportunity of providing additional materials to improve upon your application, others will flat out respond with a rejection letter. In your own interest, apply to schools where you are confident of meeting all their admission requirements.

9. Applying to schools without factoring in the financial cost of the school's tuition and fees.

Getting an international education is not cheap! The good news however is, there are some schools and certain organizations which support the education of foreign students through scholarships, grants, etc. as posted here. If your plan is to fund your education through some type of external assistance, it is important to be prudent about the schools you apply to. Certain schools like Carnegie Mellon clearly state on their website that they do not offer financial aid to undergraduate international students, while Amherst College meets the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students, including international students. Having this type of information at the back of your head will assist greatly in making an informed decision when deciding on which schools to apply to, hence, the reason for research. Instead of applying to schools that are noted for not giving much money to foreign students and later figuring out how to support your education upon acceptance, it may be more advantageous for you to apply to schools which usually have generous funding packages for all of its students.

Now you are aware of some of the mistakes to avoid during the application process as a prospective student, we hope you proceed with caution.

If you need assistance with your college or graduate school application, send an email to


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