Countdown to College: Don’t make these applications mistakes

An important college application deadline, Nov. 1, is almost upon us and the stress in many homes with high school seniors is almost palpable.

Here are some tips to make the last part of the application process run a little more smoothly:

Don’t procrastinate. Nov. 1 is the most common deadline for colleges and universities that offer Early Decision (binding) and Early Action (non-binding) admissions programs. Procrastinators need to be aware that in the last few days before the deadline many college computer servers will be on overload and have been known to shut down entirely.

This could mean that if you wait until the last minute to submit your application that it won’t get in on time.

You should also note that colleges are aware of the date and time you file your application; so some may construe your procrastination as being either lazy or disinterested.

Don’t be generic. Use your essays to set yourself apart from the masses. Don’t tell the college admissions office what you think they want to hear (how prestigious their school is, how beautiful the campus is, etc.) demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and share why each college is a good fit for you academically and socially. You should specifically address the courses you are looking forward to taking and how you see yourself getting involved in campus life (clubs, activities, etc.).

Don’t rush at the end. Oftentimes students are so eager to hit “submit” that they fail to proof their essays and the activities sufficiently. Submitting an activity list that says you are a “Candy Stripper” instead of a “Candy Striper” may cause some good-natured teasing at one college, but the failure to proofread may doom your application at another school.

Don’t be a stealth applicant. Colleges are engaged in social media. If you are interested in a school, let them know; “like” their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter and Instagram. Make sure you let them know if you visit their campus, if an admissions representative comes to your school or if you meet them at a college fair. It’s also important to note that some colleges are looking at students’ social media pages as well, so clean them up.

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to:;

College Application Week

Nov. 2-6 - sponsored by College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC).

CFNC offers free service to North Carolina parents and students on planning, applying and paying for college from trusted experts. You can access assistance at the toll-free number 866.866.CFNC and from the online resource, Many colleges in North Carolina will offer free applications during College Application week.