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How Your Study Abroad College Application Form Should Not Look Like?

Posted on Jul 14, 2018
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Application Form

Nothing can be as stressful as a blank application form with a myriad instructions, details, and documentation. Add to that the stress of creating a winner application makes the whole process look daunting. By now, you may already be familiar with all that’s expected of you in filling out your application form. But do you know what a completed application form should NOT look like? Here are 10 red flags to keep in mind.

1. Complete to the Last Detail Without Errors or Missing Info.
From the mundane information such as your name, address, and other details to the more intricate details such as your academic objectives, the application form needs a volley of information about you. You are expected to fill out all the information as accurately and neatly as possible. Whatever information you provide has to be correct, valid, and uncontestable. Dont give ambiguous or incomplete information. To ensure neatness of work, do a dry-run on a dummy application form. If you dont understand the instructions, or need clarity, it is better to approach the college authorities for further assistance.

2. Don’t Skip the Application Fees or Any Other Ancillary Payments
Colleges dont like to receive application forms that have missing elements. There is no gainsaying that your application form without the fee or fee waiver documents are a turn-off for any admissions department. You dont want to project yourself as a careless, poorly organized student. If you are using the Common Application system, you will be alerted before you hit Send. But dont wait for automation to take care of your mistakes. It is a good idea to keep a checklist handy. Double check to ensure that you have taken care of all the aspects including sending out your application fees.

3. The Tricky Part of Sending Tests Scores and Transcripts
Some colleges have a separate standardized test submission deadline, which may be different to the application deadline. If that is the case, dont miss out on sending your test scores on time. For the GMAT, you have the option to preview your GMAT scores before deciding whether to accept or cancel your scores. Your test fee usually includes five free score reports. Make sure to send in the correct scores of the relevant tests. Most colleges may ask you to provide official grade certificates for the course you studied at undergraduate or graduate level. Ensure that there have been no discrepancies in reporting your marks. Check the reports for errors, and inform your school authorities immediately if you notice an error in transcripts. These transcripts form the backbone of your application, as they are official documents from your school authorities.

4. What Your Essays and Recommendation Letters Should Not Look Like
Your essays and recommendation letters communicate who you really are. Missing out on important details is suicidal. Make sure that your essays and recommendation letters speak of the real you, and not some fictitious person. Reflect on what makes you a unique individual, with a unique skill set and learning abilities. Dont sound run-of-the-mill in your attempt to buff your essay to sound like a wannabe. Remember that admissions officers receive tons of essays that sound worldly wise. You dont want to sound self-absorbed and detached from the real world. Recommendation letters are viewpoints of another person about you. These letters hold more weightage, as the person who recommended you adds a new dimension to your personality. Be selective in whom you choose to get your recommendation letters from. In particular, your mentors should have worked in close contact with you to be able to provide a fair evaluation. Dont forget to follow up on your recommenders to ensure that they upload their evaluation before the deadline. If they are unable to meet your requirements, consider looking for another recommender, who can do so.

5. All Documentation Should Meet the University Standards.
Universities give specific and detailed guidelines on how they need the documentation work done. Whether it is your resume, financial aid, bank statements, income tax documents, visa, or others, you have to follow the prescribed format. Are the bank details complete? Do your financial statements adhere to international format? Are your financial records satisfactory? Do you see any potential loopholes in your documents? If you are not sure about the documents, get an expert to review the documents. You can ask your bank manager to ensure that all financial documents meet the standards of the international school.

6. The Importance of Clarity and Brevity.
If filling up an application form for a university seems rigorous, imagine how the process is for the admissions department, who have to sift through tons of material coming from different parts of the world. You can make their job easier by sticking to the details asked with complete clarity. Dont get verbose, running into unwarranted details about your life. Focus on showcasing the strongest part of your profile, and leave negative comments out. Answer the questions without being ambiguous. Nobody likes a fence-sitter, so dont be one.

7. Make Your Application Stand Out from the Crowd.
One of the biggest red flags for your application form is the lack of consistency. If your recommendation letters showcase you as an incisive, research-oriented student, your essays, transcripts, and other achievements should also reflect the same. You cant paint two contradicting pictures of yourself. Hence, look out for potential pitfalls in your application profile. Always proofread your application before sending them out. Look out for wrong university name, misspellings, misinterpretation of questions, and unwanted information. Ask a friend or family member to proofread too. If you feel that you are ready to hit Send, save the application, and revisit after a break. Sometimes, you catch an error that escaped your scrutiny earlier.

To protect your application from pitfalls, it is a good idea to create a checklist of important points. Throughout the application form filling stage, keep an eye out for red flags that may affect your chances of getting admission to a good college abroad.