The Biggest Mistakes to Avoid on Your College Application

« Back  |  

Thousands of high school students from across the country will be filling out college applications over the next couple months. If you’re one of them it probably means that you’ve already visited all the campuses, taken all the tests and checked all the extracurricular activities off your list. The only thing standing between you and the school of your dreams is…(insert dramatic music here), the application process. It has to be one of the most daunting and stressful processes that any senior will go through. So, how do you make your college application stand out amongst so many other students? The stress of that question will lead many applicants to throw everything (including the kitchen sink) at their applications.

Steve LeMenager, who worked in the admissions office of Princeton University for 24 years, helps to shed some light on how to avoid costly mistakes on your college application.

LeMenager explains that “more is not better.” Applicants think that if they can include every detail of their life in their application and essay, (i.e. volunteer opportunities, family history, Science Club and every award or recognition they’ve ever received) that it will stack the scales in their favor. In reality, all that leads to is information overload—for the admissions advisor and for you.

Admissions departments aren’t looking for potential students to reinvent their resumes in the essay and try and cure world hunger. They want to see authenticity, elegance, and thoughtfulness. Ultimately they want to get a glimpse into a small episode of your life where they can get to know you a little more. They want to understand how you would fit within their learning environment.

It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality and authenticity.

From the college application to the essay, LeMenager explains more of these common mistakes and how to avoid them. Hear the rest of his advice by watching his full video interview with Business Insider.

Biggest College Application Mistakes


Looking for ways to better prepare for college? Taking a college course online while you’re still in high school is one way to get there. Learn more about the benefits of taking concurrent enrollment courses.