5 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid During the College Application Process

Applying for college can be a wild waiting game for high school seniors preparing for their next stage in life. The application process is chalked full of anxiety-inducing interviews, strict deadlines, and sleepless nights as teens strive to balance dozens of applications with day-to-day school and home responsibilities. Although filled with trials and tribulations, there are ways to get out of the application process mostly unscathed.

College Application

Avoid the doom and gloom associated with the college application process by knowing which details are essential versus those not worth fretting over. Many seniors lose precious time and sleep obsessing over perfection. When it comes to entrance letters, personal essays, and academic resumes, highlighting your strengths and passions is far more important than striving for perfection. As you work your way through applications after application, make sure to avoid these five rookie mistakes and ensure smooth sailing into University life.

Overlooking your less-than-stellar GPA and applying to a competitive university anyway

Prestigious colleges are often glamorized and highly-sought-after by high school seniors. Although big-name schools come with recognition and unique experiences, they also tend to have low acceptance rates. It is vital to have a mix of safety, reach, and match schools to implement a realistic application approach, evade unnecessary costs, and avoid wasting valuable time.

When researching, keep in mind general acceptance rates are not the end-all-be-all of potential success. Pinpoint your unique odds by calculating GPA, test scores, and school-specific rates. For example, Penn state acceptance rates are competitive yet attainable, meaning admission is feasible for students who prepare adequately and match score requirements.

Rushing the process

Many high school seniors make the critical mistake of starting the application process too late in the game. Procrastinating leads to a rushed application, often filled with needless mistakes and avoidable anxiety. College deadlines are time-sensitive and stringent. Avoid rushed applications and sub-par entrance essays by creating a detailed plan early in your senior year and checking off to-do items little by little to remain calm, collected, and ready for success.

Too many or too few considerations

Although senior year can be stressful as you plan your way into a successful future, it’s also exhilarating for teens who have been dreaming of college life for years. Because of this enthusiasm, teens often become overzealous and apply for too many colleges, subsequently complicating the application process. On the flip-side, students feeling overwhelmed often consider too few institutions, slashing their odds of acceptance. Creating a list of balanced options enables future college attendees to shoot for the stars while creating a soft cushion of clouds to catch any denied applications.

Unorganized planning

The key to most college success stories is thoughtful, detailed planning. Beyond school considerations, high school seniors should keep track of individual school’s deadlines, test score requirements, and application fees to minimize bumps in the road to university. Keep important information organized by inputting data into an easily-accessible spreadsheet that is consistently updated and reviewed.

Slacking of senior year

One of the most critical mistakes budding college attendees make is giving in to senioritis. It can be tempting for seniors—specifically ones who have maintained near-perfect scores—to slack and relax during their final year of school. While it is important to cherish and enjoy your last moments before adulthood, it is also imperative to future success to stay focused and finish strong. Avoid procrastinating to keep on top of important deadlines and due dates to ensure a smooth transition into college life.


Applying for college can be a daunting task for high school seniors. Guarantee future success and an unforgettable college experience by bypassing simple, avoidable application faux-pas.

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