Colleges are sure to find your international baccalaureate degree impressive – but not if you call it an "international bachelorette" on your application. That's a spell-check-induced gaffe cited by deans of admission at more than a couple schools.
What are some other mistakes that drive college admissions staffers crazy – and sometimes send the applicant straight to the rejection pile? U.S. News asked pros from around the country to weigh in on what they'd strongly rather you not do. Here are some of the highlights.
[Get additional tips and advice on applying to college.]
Director of undergraduate admissions, Clemson University
Neglecting to read directions: We have a place on our application that is marked clearly for international students. But we have gotten applications from American students who have not read that, and where it asks, "Do you have a visa?" they say yes.
And when it asks what kind, we're expecting to see an F1 or a J2, something administered by [the government]. In one case we got Bank of America. And where we asked for the number of the visa, we got the credit card number. We were not impressed.
Vice president for enrollment management, Butler University
Letting parents take the lead: It doesn't tell us that a student is interested if we get 15 phone calls from Mom. Some parents are annoying – we get that. We try not to hold it against the student, as long as he or she has played a role in the process. We want families involved. But the student needs to take the lead.
Leigh A. Weisenburger
Dean of admission and financial aid, Bates College
Submitting a lengthy resume: At my stage in my career, I shouldn't have a three-page resume. So no 17-year-old should be submitting a three-page resume.
I know many college counselors encourage students to write one as a process to help the kid recognize all she's accomplished, but we don't need to see it if you've filled out the application properly. It just rubs me the wrong way when students submit a resume rather than filling out the activity portion of the application.
Dean of admissions and financial aid, Oberlin College
Hitting submit without proofreading: Using spell-check isn't enough – you have to proofread. Julie Taymor, who wrote and directed "The Lion King," is a graduate of Oberlin, and we had a student who was really passionate about [Taymor's] work and wrote a really well-done essay about it. But she neglected to proof it, and throughout she referred to the musical as "The Loin King."
She didn't get in. It wasn't just because of that; it didn't help, though. It was a really good essay, but that just put the pause button on it.
[See 10 tips for writing the college application essay.]
Director of undergraduate admissions, Washington University in St. Louis
Waiting until the last minute: Many students who submit on the date of the deadline assume that everything transmitted and was received. But sometimes things are lost in cyberspace.