5 Ways to Kill Your College Application

Over the past few weeks I’ve done several radio shows on getting into college and surviving while you’re there. I’ve also written a few columns on the insane amount of money a college education can cost these days. In today’s guest post, Paul Stephen has some great advice on simple mistakes that can torpedo your child’s chances of getting into the college of his or her choice.

Admissions officers have to wade through sometimes thousands of applications. Unless you are an “auto-admit” or “auto-reject”, you will likely be placed in the “maybe” pile (the destination for most applicants). From there, every page of your application will be copied and circulated through various members of the admissions committee. One misstep and your application could get tossed into the “reject” pile. Here are five common complaints boasted by college admissions officers everywhere; learn what they are and ways to avoid making them on your own college application.

1. Using an inappropriate email address on your application. If you don’t have an email address that ends with .edu, create an email account that only contains your first and last name @xxxx.xxx. Don’t use nicknames like jessonfire6969@gmail.com, or sexychicshs420@hotmail.com, for example. The admissions committee does know what those numbers mean and they won’t be impressed. Even if your email doesn’t contain inappropriate innuendos, it still looks unprofessional to send a serious email to an admissions committee with catlover1999@youremail.com.

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Me and You Are on the Same Page

Dear Mr. Dad: When I was in elementary school, there was a much greater emphasis on English grammar and usage. I remember diagramming sentences and memorizing spelling rules. Does anyone do that anymore? My third grader—who goes to a very expensive private school—comes home with notes from his teacher (or school newsletters) that frequently contain grammar and spelling mistakes. I’m worried that our kids are going to come out of school completely illiterate. Is there any hope?

A: Depends on what you mean by hope. The English language is a living, growing thing—just think of all the new words and ways of using them that have crept into our dictionaries over the past few years: Green and friend are now verbs (as in “greening your home” and “I’m going to friend you”). And five years ago, had you ever heard of webinar, ecotourism, emoticon, netbook, or notspot? We’re never going to be able to stop our language from evolving—and I think that’s a good thing. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make an attempt to at least use it properly. People (and by “people” I mean “plenty of native English speakers”) make dozens of usage errors. Some are kind of entertaining, but others can actually distort what’s being said. Here are a few of the ones that drive me batty.
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