Many international students make avoidable mistakes that prevent them from getting into the university that best fits their needs. In this article, we list some of the mistakes that students always seem to make in the application process. The application process is fairly simple. It starts with the student making his university list to taking the standardized test requirement, starting the application and finally submitting it with the required documents.
The following lists the main areas where students fail to make the right steps:
1- The first mistake that students do is the false reasoning used when choosing the right university.
Students have to realize that there are over 9000+ institute for higher education in the US and going to a top 100 schools is a great opportunity. That being said, students must mix their list with the right number of safety, match and reach schools. The student must search deep into the school’s background in order to see if it is a great fit for him/her. A great example would be someone who applies to CalTech without knowing of its rigorous coursework. Another example would be a student who applies to Cornell without having the ability to survive through the harsh cold winter. In the end, schools like Harvard, Stanford and MIT are under "dream schools" regardless of how good your resume is. The student must take that into account when he/she is waiting for the decision.
2- The second step of the application process is finishing up the standardized testing requirements.
Students who focus equally on SAT and ACT tend to not to perform their best in each exam. The same thing applies to TOEFL and IELTS. The student must figure out which test suits him/her the best before being fully committed to taking it. It’s worthwhile to note that standardized tests are essential to foreign students because it is difficult for the admission office to determine how strong the student's educational background is. The student must do his/her best in Standardized tests in order to have the strongest possible application. This must be done without cheating and plagiarizing because these acts would terminate the student’s chances of getting accepted into a US university. When taking tests, the students should aim to minimize the times that he/she takes the tests. For example, a 2000+ score on the SAT might be looked down upon if the student took the test more than 6 times. Again, it is essential that the student adheres to the tests rules, for a simple violation might terminate those scores.
3- As the student is finishing up the standardized testing requirement, he/she is beginning the process of securing the required documents which are mainly transcripts, letters of recommendation, financial aid documents, and standardized test scores.
Since most international students are not familiar with the American application process, a lot of students tend to mess up on this step. They ask their teachers very late or their teachers don’t complete the letters in a timely manner. Another mistake that students do is failing to get the proper authentication for their documents or sending their score after the deadline. The student is advised to ask his/her teachers very early in the process, give samples of well written letters of recommendation and follow up with the teacher to make sure it is submitted on time. If the student is using the Common App, it is better for him/her to ask his/her teacher to fill up the needed documents online. This would not only save the student the trouble of sending them via mail but also the trouble of missing mailed documents.
Another common mistake that students do is failing to complete the school report in the Common App. This is one of the most important documents as it is the way for the admission office to better understand the applicant's educational background and the types of opportunities he/she had in high school. The student must also make sure that his/her letters of recommendation are unique and specific to him/her. Many teachers fail to offer a comprehensive review of the student. They give a positive yet bland recommendation. This can be avoided by asking experienced teachers who truly care about the student. Also, some universities require special rules for the standardized testing requirement. The student must aim to follow these rules in order to have a complete application. Finally, the student might be asked to mail the official documents after he/she is accepted. The student should send the required documents with the proper level of authentication.
4- The final step is filling out the application.
This includes essays and personal information. In the personal information, it is imperative that the student provides accurate information about himself/herself. One type of mistake that students usually commit is that they don’t provide a real perspective of their passions in the extracurricular activities and honors section. In some scholarship programs, the student has the option of letting a third party submit his/her application. In that case, the student must be 100% sure of the completeness of his/her application. It’s also worthwhile to note
there were cases where students paid for the application fee without actually submitting a full application. When the student starts to write his/her essays, he/she should start as early as possible. Many students procrastinate on the essays to the last possible moment, as one admission officer tells it “it is really easy to see a rushed essay.”
Students must try their best to balance writing the essays with other tasks in the application process. Another mistake that students do while writing the essay is to not proofreading them. Even though the main purpose of the essay is not to test the applicant’s grammar, simple mistakes in the essay would definitely undermine its value. The student should aim to get many reviews on his/her essays from qualified individuals in order to receive proper feedback.
In the end, the student should try his best to avoid these mistakes as there quite avoidable while applying to US universities. The common mistakes that students do are merely a result of the lack of proper background in the application process.