College Admission Mistakes:High school student head profile containing lighbulb "idea" lightbulb with big red X over it

That’s Not Brilliant: College Admission Mistakes

Big college admission mistakes many high school students make when applying to universities

Avoid them to increase your chances of getting admitted to your top choice school

When you decide to complete only your Early Application and wait to see what happens in December before you write your other ten over winter break…That’s Not Brilliant!

When you select English as your major and tell your interviewer that your favorite books of all time are: The Wolf of Wall Street and Batman, vol 3. That’s Not Brilliant!

When you determine that your writing is so exceptional that you can craft your entire personal statement as a flashback or a stream of consciousness (unless you’re writing for U Chicago!)…That’s Not Brilliant! Flashback writing is very difficult to pull off.

When you’re an average pianist and you decide to send in an arts supplement or recording of yourself playing Rachmaninov No. 3…That’s Not Brilliant! (Do you really want to be the guy whose recording they play at the “after Admission Decision party” when all the admission officers are a little tipsy?)

When you send the Office six to ten recommendations (and all of them say what a smart, talented girl you are), just in case Admissions didn’t read the previous five…That’s Not Brilliant!

When it’s junior year and you take a long, hard look at your resumé and decide what you really need on there is a nonprofit…and then you create one…That’s Not Brilliant! (Do you really think admission officers were born yesterday?)

When you assume that taking the SAT for a fourth time might really enhance your chances for admission to Princeton…That’s Not Brilliant!

When you stalk your regional admission officer to such an extent that you discover when her birthday is and then send her a dozen roses…That’s Not Brilliant! (That’s creepy).

When you write update emails to your admission officer every two weeks, and your only update is…“Just wanted to let you know that X University is still my number one choice.” That’s Not Brilliant!

When you join six after-school clubs in six different fields of interest, just to have lots of entries on your resume…That’s Not Brilliant! That’s Activity Bombing.

When you consistently grub for grade changes on exams and papers from a HS teacher, and then ask that teacher to write your college recommendation…That’s Not Brilliant!

When your mom calls Admissions to ask all the questions you should be asking—and you let her! That’s Not Brilliant!

When you have signed in to a college visit welcome-book and you leave in the middle of the info-session…That’s Not Brilliant.

When your dad asks the questions during a college tour for a college you really want to attend…That’s not brilliant.

When you insult a sector of the population (like corporations or Wall Street) in your essay, just because you’re young and idealistic…That’s Not Brilliant! First of all, you don’t know who is reading your essay. Maybe they started their careers on Wall Street, or their parents are finance professionals. Regardless of how glib, well-researched or heartfelt your essay, you could be insulting someone. Try to remember, the people who are endowing your scholarship could have made their livelihoods in the very professions you’re berating. If you do feel deeply about a particular issue, then please write about it in an insightful, sensitive and scholarly way—but do not make your Admission Office readers uncomfortable by reading it.

When you decide to use your essay as a partisan political platform and decimate the opposing party…That’s Not Brilliant!

When you receive that Early Acceptance at your top school, and decide to make up for all the missed years of partying by not bothering with homework or studying for exams between January and May. That’s Not Brilliant! Don’t find out why.

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