When applying online, exercise caution and plan well in advance to avoid errors.

During the 1980s and for most of the 1990s the application processes to get into colleges were entirely different from what we need to do today. Students had to mail pre-application requests so that the colleges could provide them with application forms which in turn had to be filled and submitted via mail or in person. With the turn of the 21st century, the application form went digital. However, registering for examinations online has its own set of problems. Here are some of the major mistakes committed by students while filling out the application form:

Read instructions

One of the most common mistakes students often commit is — not reading the instructions carefully. Students tend to superficially follow the instructions in the application forms. Although the purposes of an application form are the same, irrespective of the college in question, the series of questions asked will always vary and many establishments never expect the same answers. All organisations expect their candidates to read the instructions thoroughly before filling in the application.

Providing wrong information in the application is another common mistake students’ commit. When it comes to writing their first, middle and surname, students are often confused as to what goes where. Stick to word limit

Essays are one of the biggest determinants of admission into a university. There are a couple of major mistakes candidates are inclined to make while writing their essays. The relevance of the essay with the given question is of primary importance. Students tend to digress from the topic and exceed the word limit assigned to each question. Most essays address extracurricular activities that interest the applicant in order to understand whether the student is a well-rounded individual or not. Therefore, the purpose is lost if the written essay talks about meaningless activities. The kind of language used should be formal and the tone, soft. Many students use informal language which is frowned upon. Not uploading the essay in the format requested by the institution is one of the biggest and the most common mistake.

Many colleges use a common application; however, they have their own supplementary questions. Quite a number of candidates tend to forget to answer them, and this will reflect on the probability of gaining admission.

Letters and documents

Most universities require a recommendation letter from the candidates’ teachers or counsellors with respect to their courses. A badly written recommendation letter might affect the admission prospects. Many candidates do not inform the teacher or counsellor about the course and university clearly and at times wait till the last minute to get the recommendations, and this could affect the quality of the letter. Another area where candidates go wrong is the submission of documents along with the application. Two things need to be kept in mind while submitting supporting documents. Students should make sure that they submit the right documents to the right university and that too within the stipulated deadline.

Students consider application forms to be similar to their coursework and tend to put it off for another day. Procrastination usually leads to poorly filled-in application forms. A student who finishes the application and mails/uploads the same as soon as possible usually makes fewer errors.

It is advisable to start applying to colleges/institutes/universities as soon as the application form is issued, which is a normally a good two months before the deadline. Some countries offer early admissions and their deadlines vary. It is essential for students to remember the individual deadlines for each college/university/institute. While many common errors occur in the case of traditional applications, there are some mistakes that are unique to modern online application. For instance, clicking on the wrong option and finalising it without re-checking, forgetting to save the application while logging out, not having a formal email address are some errors that often occur.

The golden rule when it comes to filling in application forms — do only as you are asked to.

The author is the CEO and Founder of Univariety.