Embarking on the college admissions journey can feel daunting, but with the right guidance and support, you can navigate the process smoothly and successfully. At AcceptU, we’ve seen – and helped to correct – countless students who make mistakes on their Common Application, hindering their chances of acceptance. Here are some of the most frequent blunders to avoid:

  1. Procrastinating: Waiting until the last minute to start your Common App can lead to rushed submissions and overlooked details. Begin early to ensure a polished application.
  1. Ignoring Instructions: Carefully read and follow all instructions provided by the Common App and individual colleges. Overlooking these guidelines can result in errors and missed opportunities.
  1. Forgetting to Proofread: Typos and grammatical errors can detract from your application’s professionalism. Take the time to thoroughly proofread each section before submitting.
  1. Underestimating Essay Importance: Your essays offer a glimpse into your personality and aspirations. Don’t underestimate their importance in conveying your unique story and interests.
  1. Missing Deadlines: Mark important deadlines on your calendar and submit your application well before the due date to avoid last-minute stress and potential technical issues.
  1. Inaccurate Information: Double-check all information provided on your application for accuracy, including test scores, GPA and extracurricular activities.
  1. Not Customizing for Each College: Tailor your application to each college’s specific requirements and values. A generic application may fail to highlight why you’re a perfect fit for that particular institution.
  1. Overlooking Activities Section: Use the activities section to showcase your involvement and achievements outside the classroom. Be thorough and provide context for each activity.
  1. Ignoring Optional Components: Take advantage of optional components like additional essays or portfolio submissions to further demonstrate your qualifications and interests.
  1. Lack of Follow-Up: Ensure all required materials, such as recommendation letters and transcripts, are submitted on time. Follow up with recommenders to confirm that they’ve completed their tasks.


By avoiding these common mistakes and seeking guidance, you can present a strong and compelling Common Application that enhances your chances of admission to your dream college. At AcceptU, our team of former college admissions officers is here to support you, every step of the way.

About the author
Marc Zawel

As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.

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