Perhaps it’s because the stakes seem so high and they are so desperate to get into a favorite school, but the stress of the college admission process seems to lead some students to do things that are really not in their interest.
Sending eight recommendations when a college asks for two will likely annoy admissions officers who already have too much to read. In addition, you are communicating that you can’t follow directions, can’t count, or have so little confidence in your application that you have to try to pump it up with as many letters as possible.
Calling or emailing your admissions officer every week to let her know how much you want to attend the college is not the way to demonstrate interest in the school. Desperation is no more appealing in a prospective student than it is in a potential date.
Applying to college is like applying for a job in many ways. Any questions about judgment or integrity can mean the end of your application. You may be tempted to exaggerate or even lie about your accomplishments, but it is best to present yourself honestly. If an application raises some question or concern, someone will investigate. A student who claims to have won an award or done community service for an organization that doesn’t sound familiar may find that award or organization being Googled in the admissions office.
In order to be taken seriously, you need to communicate in a professional manner. That means no texting an admissions officer as if she’s your BFF. An email address that seems funny to a student could be offensive to an adult. While interviews are not usually a major factor in college admission decisions, you don’t want to be remembered for getting (and even worse, taking) four phone calls during the meeting.
Of course, students aren’t the only ones who can sink a college application. Parents who call and ask questions that should come from the student are not doing their child any favor. Even worse is the parent who pretends to be the student on the phone. Then there are the parents who insist on going into the interview and speaking for the student.
Annoying an admissions officer might not be reason for a denial, but if you’re applying to selective colleges, you don’t want to stand out for negative reasons. A student’s judgment and maturity can factor into admission decisions, so make sure your actions are communicating the most positive message about you.