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5 College Application Mistakes Admissions Committees Hate

Check out the top five mistakes parents knowingly allow their child to make in the college admissions process that can lead to an AUTOMATIC REJECTION.

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Applying to colleges your child has NO business applying to

Colleges already have an increase of over 100% in applications in the last seven years. Why? Because students seem to think that just because the Common App came out in the last ten years, that they can go ahead and apply to every college with a click of the button. Let me tell you why this is a bad idea. First, with each application there is at least a $50-75 fee. On top of that, almost 80% of colleges have supplemental essays. Every school your child applies to should literally feel like a marriage proposal. As in, they should all feel uniquely like they are the NUMBER ONE CHOICE instead of a slapped together application OR a "click of the button."

Let me pose this differently. Would you apply to a job that you have NO business applying to? As in, you don't have the years of experience, credentials expected, and know that you will most probably get rejected? Students don't realize that they will most probably be put in an automatic reject pile. Look, if your child can't handle the academic rigor at the school based on their high school grades and GPA, why would the school take them? Unless you want to hire hundreds of hours of tutors and spend thousands of dollars while they are in college, stop thinking your child should get into a college they won't be able to handle.

Insider Tip: Look at what your child excels at, what types of grades they make, and look for colleges that are a good fit verses the name brand college.


Clean Up Your Child's Social Media Presence

No, I’m not referring to just the content. What I’m referring to are emails such as or College applications are your child's chance to woo admissions committees with their professionalism, and there is nothing professional about 2hot4u or comeatmebro299. Think about it this way: if your child doesn't take themselves seriously, why should they? Try to create an email as close to their first and last name as possible, such as This new and improved email will serve them well for future job searches, too.

And here is one other thing: I have unfortunately found some incredibly embarrassing content online of students I have worked with. Videos that are etched in my mind that I can never forget. Google your child from SOMEONE ELSE'S computer and see what pops up. Trust me, colleges will google your child. Make sure it is clean - no drugs, no alcohol, nothing inappropriate.

There's nothing more frustrating than working with a student, printing out a sheet that is mortifying, and asking them, "What is this?" Colleges will be searching - they have teams for that.

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Parent's OVER involvement

Sometimes a question will arise during the admissions process, and you’ll need to call or email the admissions office for clarification. Or perhaps you simply want to confirm that the office has received your child's application. In any case, if you need to reach out to the school, have your kid do it themselves. If mom is doing all the talking, the admissions committee will start to wonder if your child is really interested in attending their school, or if they are applying there only because you want them to.

Remember: showing genuine interest in the school is key to making your child's application stand out. And, if you nag the college a ton, they will most probably reject your child.


Choosing the wrong person to write your letters of recommendation

Some people choose higher-ups like the dean or principal thinking this will carry more weight in the admissions decision. But unless the dean or principal knows you personally, you risk receiving a very generic recommendation letter. I recommend asking a present/former teacher who knows you well and can tie in your skills to the specific program you're applying to. For instance, if you’re applying to a pre-med program, it would be wise to ask your AP Biology teacher who also happens to be your soccer coach. She can talk about your keen aptitude for medical science, as well as how dedicated you are to everything you do, whether in the lab or on the soccer field. Doesn’t that sound so much better than “Jane is a dedicated student who has attended my institution for four years?” I think so.

Insider Tip: Getting an additional recommendation letter can be extremely beneficial - especially if they are an alumni of the school or a large donor. Trust me, it can work. So, look through your network, and see who might be able to help shine light on your child that has AUTHORITY at that school already.

Forgetting to change the name of the school

Virtually all colleges will ask your child to write an essay on why you chose them, what you can offer the school, why you would be a good fit for the school, or some combination of the three. I like to call it the "Why us?" essay. Some students make the mistake of sending one generic essay out to all X colleges they’re applying to, and then forget to change the name of the school. If you’re applying to Harvard University but your whole essay talks about how well you’d fit in at Columbia University, the admissions people aren’t going to be very impressed.  Actually, your child will just get a FLAT out rejection. What this mistake says is that their school really doesn't matter to you– it's just another name on your list of colleges to apply to. And that’s not very flattering.

Insider Tip: When you get to the end of the road, print out EVERY SINGLE application before your child submits and double check every single essay.

Now here’s the best part: you can avoid all of these mistakes by simply starting the application process early (i.e. several months in advance - NOW if you are a junior year parent). If you do, you will have time to ask someone to proofread your essay, create a professional email account, decide who could write you the best recommendation letters, and have your child call the admissions office. Start early, and time will be on your side. These are some of the largest mistakes I have personally seen over the past decade working with thousands of students.