Everyone knows that sinking feeling when you realize you made a mistake on something important. But there aren’t many things in life as important as the college you attend, which is why a goof-up on your application can feel like the end of the world, especially if it’s your dream school..
Fortunately, a mistake on your application isn’t the end of the world. If you just realized you made a blunder on your application, follow the steps below to handle the problem gracefully and minimize the negative impact.
Start by taking a deep breath and calming down so you can think through this rationally. Take it from us: no matter how low you might feel right now, you aren’t the first person to make a mistake on your college application, and you certainly won’t be the last.
- Evaluate the mistake
College application mistakes come in two sizes: serious errors, like using the wrong college name or submitting the wrong essay, and minor mistakes, like typos and punctuation mistakes. Before you decide how to handle the issue, figure out whether it’s a serious problem that could undermine your entire application, or something small that Admissions staff might not even notice.
- Decide on your next step
If the mistake is minor, then let it go and do nothing. Admissions counselors frequently see small typos and slip-ups on applications. They won’t automatically reject you over a missed comma or an errant quotation mark. Many students at the school you applied to made small mistakes on their applications. The person reviewing your application might not even notice the error, so there’s no reason to point out the mistake and risk making yourself seem careless.
If you made a major mistake, then it’s time for action. Start by getting in touch with the Admissions department. Try to find the email address or phone number of the specific person reviewing your application so that you can alert them to the error. Be apologetic, succinct, and clear, so that you aren’t wasting their time because of your error. Ask them if you can submit a corrected application, or at least fix the part where you messed up. Some colleges will let you submit an updated essay if you included the wrong one.
College Confidential suggests using a bit of humor to address the situation and ease the tension, but don’t turn into a joke writer. If nothing funny about the situation comes to you immediately, focus on explaining the mistake as clearly, simply, and rationally as possible. Use this chance to show the Admissions counselors that you can handle a difficult situation in a mature, responsible way.
- Learn from what happened
Whether the school you applied to lets you correct the error or not, use this as a learning experience for the future, especially if you’ll be filling out more applications. Complete your paperwork early and review it multiple times, then have at least one other person look at it. Try to find someone who is a skilled proofreader.
If you respond properly and handle the situation well, a mistake on your application probably won’t prevent you from getting into college.