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Most Common Mistakes in College Applications Leading to Failure

Most college application mistakes cause college applicants around the world to be rejected year after year how to prevent this? You need to know that even if a refusal came from the university, this is not the “end of the world”. It is often possible to remedy the situation. But there are also exceptions. I say this not to intimidate but to motivate for a more serious approach to admission organization and to avoid common mistakes in college applications.

– The best way to correct a mistake is to avoid it –

To understand this topic more deeply, I studied a lot of materials and even did a little research on common college application mistakes.

From my observations, there are a little less than twenty typical mistakes. In 70-80% of cases, the top universities in the world send a refusal (passing exams and quotas so far, we do not take into consideration). And I want to consider them in detail to save you, my dear readers, from wasting time, money, and nerves, this article will help you to understand more deeply.

Now we’re getting started! 11 or 12? What is your choice? 

College application mistakes

  • #1 You didn’t understand the admission requirements

Let’s take a look at this mistake with a specific example. Suppose our applicant is from the CIS. Citizens of the CIS have the right to conditionally enter a classical university in Austria for humanitarian, technical, and creative specialties immediately after school (after 11 years of study).

Here the keyword is “CONDITIONAL” because two conditions must be met: To pass German at the preparatory courses if it is below the C1 level and additional specialized subjects (Ergänzungsprüfungen), depending on the chosen specialty. This is a prerequisite. In other words, you can apply with an elementary level of German (min. A2), but language proficiency will still be checked at the end of the course, and if the level is insufficient, you will not be able to start studying at the university.

Austrians complete secondary education for 12 years, and in most CIS countries for 11 years. Let’s do a little math with you. Therefore, the citizenship rule gives you the opportunity to “finish your studies” for at least one year. Often this year is just used in order to tighten the language to the desired level. In other words, to enter certain Austrian universities, you need a full 12-year education or 11 years of secondary school in the CIS + 1 year of preparatory courses.

A lot of people are interested in how old they graduate from school in the United States. For those who are close to this topic, the following information will be useful.

Starting at 5-6 years old and having studied consistently in elementary, middle, and high school for 12 years, the average American receives a certificate at 17-18 years old. To avoid college application mistakes, please be very attentive to all the details and rules you will be dealing with.

If you try to work around this condition, a refusal is likely to come.

Most Common Mistakes in College Applications Leading to Failure
Learn the exact Common Mistakes in College Applications
  • #2 Deadlines?! Did not take into account the change in the requirements of the university

One of the most annoying application mistakes. Preparation for admission and the admission process can take from 3 to 12 months. During this time, the university may change the requirements or conditions for admission. This is why it is essential to regularly check the university website’s criteria. The most frequent changes:

  • the deadlines for submission of documents have changed;
  • introduced an entrance test;
  • introduced additional online registration for the test;
  • the method of application has changed.

For example, starting in 2016 at the Main University of Vienna, the application can only be submitted online. To do this, on the university U: Space platform, you need to create an account and upload all the necessary documents. And if you skip the mandatory online registration, you can lose a whole year.

Another example: entering an Austrian university, starting in 2019, is possible only if you have a language certificate at the A2 level, at least. Until 2019, it was possible to enroll without a language certificate.

New article on admission to an Austrian university in 2019 after changes in university legislation here. 

  • #3 Am I going right? The wrong university or city of the study was chosen

Think well about how interested you are in a given country, city, and knowledge profile.

For example, suppose you do not speak English perfectly, and you want to go to college in London. In that case, I advise you first to strengthen the foundation – learn a foreign language and get a decent level, confirmed by certificates.

Be careful, and I do not advise you to forget certificates since you need documents and knowledge, without which teaching can turn into torment. Choosing an incorrect college is a common application mistake.

  • #4 Citizenship rule… An incomplete package of documents was submitted to the university

The requirements for EU citizens and citizens of other countries are different. But many people miss this point. So, citizens of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, and other CIS countries need to check the requirements for the package of documents on the websites of universities (requirements in the section “Ausländische Studierende,” “Drittstaatsangehörige” “Internationale Studierende,” etc.)

In most controversial cases, the citizenship rule works.

If your dream is to study full-time at a university in the United States

You will generally need a student visa. There are two categories of nonimmigrant visas for individuals wishing to study in the United States. These visas are widely known as F and M visas.

To enter the F-1 or M-1 visa category, you face the following criteria:

• First is that you should be enrolled in an “academic” educational program or language training program;

• Second, your school must be approved by the Immigration Student and Visitor Program;

• Third – you must be enrolled in the full-time college of your choice;

• Fourth – you must be fluent in English or be enrolled in an English language course;

• Fifth, you must have sufficient funds in your account to support the entire course;

• Sixth – you need to have a permanent residence abroad.

F-1 student visa

The F-1 (Academic Student) visa lets you go to the United States as a full-time student at any accredited academic institution and also in a language training program.

You need to be enrolled in a course of study that ends with a diploma, degree, or certificate, and your school must be authorized by the US government to accept international students.

Student visa M-1

The M-1 (Professional Education Student) visa category includes those students who are studying in all non-academic programs other than language training.

  • #5 Check the documents, please! Documents without certification

Bureaucracy in many countries is very strong. And precisely because of the lack of certification of documents, dozens of applicants are refused every year. Here are the most typical situations:

an apostille on a document on education (certificate, diploma) is not on the original, but on a copy (CIS countries); only an apostille was affixed, but full diplomatic legalization was needed (Canada, Egypt, Algeria, Qatar, etc.). It would seem a trifle, but it entails unpleasant consequences.

Often applicants make faults in basic and vital information like spelling errors, providing incomplete contact information without cross-checking, and mismatching names/data on different documents, which leads to scrapping out or rejecting the application in total. Re-checking the application before submitting or sending it over to the college is extremely important! It will save you from common college application mistakes, and you will not need to think about how to fix them after. 

How often do students ask google what to do to fix this or that mistake on the college application? The best way to fix a mistake is to avoid it! So please be attentive. 

  • #6 Not necessary to do everything in advance. Incorrect certification of documents

For example, suppose you want to enroll in one of the Austrian universities. In that case, you should consider that Austrian universities prefer translations of “their” sworn translators, and some universities make it a strict requirement.

Such translations do not need to be legalized, and universities, shall we say, trust them more.

If you translate documents at home, it is advisable to be certified by a sworn court translator in Austria or at home.

Respect the requirements of the educational institutions that you choose and strictly follow all the instructions, carefully read all the conditions for the paperwork, mainly if the educational institution is located in another country with which you are not very familiar with the culture to prevent the most common college application mistakes.

  • #7 Keep order! Documents are folded inaccurately or in the wrong order

This is perhaps one of the most annoying failures. This may even sound like a joke, but please pay attention. For example, if you have chosen a college in Austria, Austrians are meticulous and take order very seriously. 

Especially with regard to the order of the documents. They are very picky and conscientious about trifles and details. However, everything should be in order and, as they say, laid out on the shelves, do not ignore this fact.

If the documents are submitted carelessly or in the wrong order, it is often perceived as disrespectful in Austrian universities and may be refused.

  • #8 Where do you live? The address of residence is incorrect

Another offensive and by no means a rare mistake. Every year, several people who enter universities incorrectly indicate their residence address. As a result, the original invitation from the university does not come with all the ensuing consequences.

Admission to a higher education institution will require a lot of strength from you, both mental and physical, as a result of which you may even become distracted. Do not neglect the help of teachers. Ask someone knowledgeable to check all of your documentation for clerical errors or mistakes so as not to admit the possibility of rejection from the acceptance committee due to ridiculous mistakes.

  • #9 HEY, what is your level? Language level requirements are not met

One of the most controversial common mistakes on the college application. The fact is that the requirements may differ depending on the program. Sometimes, even for programs taught in German, it is crucial to attach a certificate of knowledge of English at the B2.2 / C1 level. Examples of such programs:

  • Bioinformatics;
  • Economic informatics;
  • Anthropology;
  • Economy;
  • Earth sciences;
  • Classical philology, etc.

For programs taught in English, a certificate is required. Is always. But certification requirements may differ depending on the agenda. In comparison, the requirements for most programs in English are as follows:

  • TOEFL: Online: Minimum score must be 87;
  • Academic IELTS: the minimum overall score must be 6.5;
  • Cambridge English First Level (FCE) Certificate – C grade or higher (minimum score is 160);
  • Cambridge Certificate of English Advanced Level (CAE): Level B2;
  • Language Center of the University of Vienna: certificate level B2 / 2;

The requirements for a certificate for management, economics, and statistics programs are higher:

  • TOEFL on the Internet: must be at least 95 points;
  • Academic IELTS: total group score: 7;
  • Cambridge English – Advanced: C grade or higher (minimum 180 points);
  • Cambridge English – the level of proficiency must be at the level: class C or higher;
  • Language Center of the University of Vienna: certificate level C1 / 3;
  • #10 One signature – one year. Essential, isn’t it? I forgot to sign an application or a questionnaire.

This type of college application mistake seems ridiculous, completely insignificant, and somehow unimportant. Still, it is also taken into account with all the severity of the approach to the documentation, so be careful.

Well, does this happen?! It turns out that it happens. Without a signature, neither the application to the university nor the application form for a residence permit is invalid. You can ask how to fix this mistake. Can you send a special mail with explanations? New correct documents… but all this can be a waste of time, sometimes up to a whole year. 

  • #11 The road to fail. You are afraid to show why You Fit Excellent

 To enroll in any university, you must understand the campus culture and notice how valuable you can be to this college and what undeniably significant contribution you can make. It can be also a mistake in your common app essay, for example. If you fail to communicate how you will interact with the community, and what you can bring to a positive, practical, and even unique social or cultural investment, the admissions office will be able to question your candidacy.

Also, you may read an article on how to write a supplemental essay to be prepared and ready for future steps.

For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology values and respects practical students who love math and science; Swarthmore appreciates candidates who are passionate about learning. Stanford students are often involved in community activities. Do not be afraid to talk about your plans and intentions engagingly. This will be a plus.

You need to express yourself and not be shy to speak loud about your talents, and I am sure you have got many of them by now! 

Sincerely believe in your success! Fingers crossed, go ahead!

So, what are the most common college application mistakes?

In this article, we looked at the most common mistakes that cause college applicants worldwide to be rejected year after year or even have to wait a whole year. 

Some of the errors are funny, some are implicit, and some you need to know to avoid. 

Of course, this is not the entire list. But these are the main ones, which account for up to 80% of refusals (excluding the results of the admission campaign, competition, quotas, etc.)

The best preparation to apply to a college of your choice is to develop a strategy for your admission step by step carefully. List wisely and thoroughly the key steps to building your action plan.

And remember that you are not alone, especially in this digital age of technology and communication. To find out as much information as possible, ask, read reviews, and be interested in the experience of those who are already studying at the college you like. There are many communities now ready to come to your aid. 

One of the communities that I can advise you, guys, from my experience is college express. It is a community of over 5 million students! Can you imagine this? How many new friends from different parts of the world you can get, how much advice on common app mistakes you can get, and advice on how to avoid them? “Collegexpress” has a lot to help you find the right college, learn the school information you need, and find the perfect one.

I hope this article was helpful to you. And in addition – catch just such a magic table by College Board.

College Application Checklist:

  1.  Create a list of wanted colleges;
  2.  Get the application;
  3.  Make notes of the regular and early application deadlines;
  4.  Find out if the admission test is needed;
  5.  Take the admission test and all other recommended tests;
  6.  Request recommended letters;
  7.  Write a draft of your initial essay;
  8.  Check grammar and spelling;
  9.  Revise your essay twice;
  10.  Subtract your version;
  11.  Give your essay to a teacher or professor to read;
  12.  College campus interview;
  13.  Try to interview alumni;
  14.  Write down the deadlines for priority and regular financial assistance;
  15.  Complete college application;
  16.  Make copies of your college application;
  17.  Pay the application fee;
  18.  Sign, check twice,v, and then send your college application;
  19.  Confirm receipt of application materials;
  20.  Send any additional documents, if needed;
  21.  Monitor the receipt of the letter from the college commission office;
  22.  Monitor the receipt of the letter of financial assistance;
  23.  Check the deadline to accept the deposit and send the deposit;
  24.  Accept the offer of financial assistance;
  25.  Send letters to colleges you will not be attending.
Most Common Mistakes in College Applications Leading to Failure
At Writing Metier you will find out how to avoid Common App Mistakes and even order your own

Start developing your admission strategy today, and the results will not be long in coming. You can get a common app writing assistance to make sure that all work will be done properly and why don’t you get professional help? It works.

Find out as much helpful information as possible, study, make your plan and start doing everything in advance. Is the main is to avoid making common mistakes on a college application when entering college? Then, you can become one of the few to whom fate smiled in the form of a presentation – receiving the long-awaited letter “Congratulations. You are admitted!” 


Vitalii Anufriiev

I'm just trying to be helpful at this Blog and inspire students to push their limits. Also, I'm a Co-Founder at Writing Metier and a great influencer.

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