7 College Admission Do's and Don'ts

By Upasana Gupta - March 05, 2013

The whole process of application and seeking admission into college can be a daunting task for any student. Especially when every college has it's unique requirement and criteria for selecting candidates for admission. Here are few admission do's and don'ts, which can help prospective college students be better prepared to understand and handle the college admission process.

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1. Do focus on getting good grades: A key factor admission officers look into while selecting a candidate for college is their grades. " A student's transcript is highly correlated to his or her success in college," says Phil Betz, director of admissions at Monmouth College, a private, liberal arts institution located in Illinois. "It speaks of their ability to choose rigorous courses and do well after high school."

2. Do pay attention to deadlines: Different parts of a college admission application may have different deadlines. Students should be aware of this and mail required documents much ahead of the given deadlines and always arrange for proof of delivery.

3. Do plan to get applications in early: Some schools have rolling admissions, in these cases, spots are taken as applications arrive and are accepted, so it's especially important to get a student's application in as early as possible.

4. Do proofread: Students should always practice to proofread their application forms. Typos, misspellings and other errors can easily lower their chances of getting admission. It is also a good idea to fill-out practice copies before filling out the original form.

5. Do schedule a campus visit: Students should try to schedule their college admission interview and look into spending the weekend on campus by requesting the admissions office. Most schools sponsor an overnight program for prospective students. "Students should invest in a personal face-to-face meeting on campus and view the college search process like they are trying to land their dream job," says Betz. Summer however, is not a good time to schedule a campus visit because class sessions are not regular and many faculty and department heads are on vacation.

6. Do invest time in writing, editing, and rewriting college essays: Students should try and learn to express their thoughts and ideas and have at least one other person proofread their final drafts. For more advice on essays, students should consult teachers or their guidance counselors.

7. Do engage in social media: Students engaging with the admission staff on Facebook, Twitter helps in networking and building rapport. Colleges generally post application deadlines, event dates, virtual tours of the campus and forums to ask questions on social media sites. At Monmouth College, Betz often engages his current students on social media sites to respond to queries posted by prospective students to foster interaction and relationship building. " Facebook is an instant, authentic and free vehicle to share our story with prospective students," says Betz.


1. Don't leave everything to last minute: Plan ahead so that there is plenty of time to work on the application essays, standardized tests, letters of recommendation and more. Students should leave enough time for parents and teachers to assist in the process without feeling the need to rush.

2. Don't stress if exam scores are not great: However, students should plan on retaking standardized tests like SAT or ACT and attempt to perform better.

( View our exam section to get updated information on standardized college entrance tests.)

3. Don't assume that college tuition will be high in a private college or university: Students should always wait to receive their financial -aid awards before making a decision on the cost. "Don't assume you will pay the ticket price of a private school," Betz says. "We constantly battle with cost. Students who are patient through the financial aid process are often surprised at the affordability of a private college education." He further adds that although the college ticket prices have gone up in private institutions, the actual cost of college for a freshman after financial aid has remained the same for some instutions such as Monmouth College.

4. Don't take shortcuts on the essay. Don't let someone else write or rewrite it: Applicants should also not try to include all of their accomplishments in the essay such that it reads like a laundry list of activities. Instead, they must take this opportunity to showcase original thoughts and ideas on the topic which helps in revealing their character and personality. Also, they should attempt to answer each and every aspect of the essay question within the character/word limit provided.

5. Don't apply for early decision program: Especially, for students who are undecided about their choice of colleges. Early decision or action programs make sense only if students are 100 percent sure of the college they want to attend.

6. Don't allow grades to fall: Many colleges will ask to see at least some of the student's senior grades before making an admissions decision. " In our selection process, we give a lot of emphasis to good GPA's," Betz says. It is therefore, significant for applicants to work hard and keep grades high.

7. Don't take your social media presence for granted: Prospective college students might think that their applications are the only factor in determining admission into college. However, their social media profiles could also influence whether or not they will be accepted into the schools they have applied for. Students need to be aware of how their actions online can hinder their chances of getting into college. If a student is irresponsible online they run the risk that the college they apply to will place some of their metrics on that profile.

(Also, read our college admission time-table; undergraduate and graduate FAQs.)