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What if I made a mistake on my college application?

If you’re a high school senior applying to college, January is usually a nice change of pace from the busy fall season, when you were likely scrambling to submit all your applications on time. Now, you’re hopefully just waiting for schools to release their admissions decisions. But what if you somehow realize that you made a mistake on one (or all) of your applications? Step one is to stay calm and assess the situation. What was the mistake and how significant was it? What you’ll do to address it (if anything) depends on the type of error.

Don't sweat the small stuff

If the mistake was something simple, like a typo in your activities list, it’s best not to draw attention to it. And don’t panic- while you should absolutely strive to avoid typos, a minor one may even go unnoticed entirely. Even if the application reader does spot the mistake, schools realize that applicants are human and mistakes happen; they are usually not judged too harshly, especially if it’s just one small error.


Be proactive with more major errors

On the other hand, if it is something substantive, you should contact the schools to which you applied to correct the mistake. If you applied through the Common Application, you are unable to make changes once you’ve already officially submitted your applications, which means you’ll have to contact the schools directly. For example, if you need to submit a corrected version of your essay, you can email the admissions office directly and attach your updated essay. Be sure to include your full name and application ID or date of birth and explain that you noticed an error in your essay and would like the admissions committee to consider your corrected version instead. Be brief in your explanation, apologize for the error, and thank them for their consideration. Usually, admissions officers will make a point to look at the most updated information provided to them, especially if they haven’t reviewed the file yet in the first place.


It should be noted that the University of California system of schools, which has its own application platform, allows students to log back into the system to make changes to several sections. If the error is in one of these sections, you should go ahead and make the correction. However, there are some portions of the application which require applicants to contact the UC Application Center.


Also, consider that depending on the error, it may be able to be corrected by your guidance counselor- they can resubmit any school-related documents, such as the school report (which is submitted with the counselor’s recommendation). If the error was significant and reflects poorly on you, your counselor can also contact the school simply to vouch for you further as an applicant. Regardless, it’s a good idea to keep your high school counselor informed of the situation.


At some point, it's out of your hands

Ultimately, how much the error will affect the admissions decision will depend on the nature of the error and the particular admissions officer and school. Once appropriate action has been taken to correct any errors, do your best to relax. You can feel good knowing that you did the right thing and that in all likelihood, it will not ruin your chances at admission. If you'd like to know in advance that your application is error-free, one of the best things you can do is work with an Admissions Consultant, like those on our team. Contact us for assistance!