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The #1 Mistakes Students Make When Applying to Colleges from 12 Top College Admissions Experts

I’m so excited to have gotten the best insider tips from 12 amazing college admissions experts during the Dream College Summit. I asked each of the experts the #1 mistake students make when applying to their dream colleges.

Sara Harberson

saraharbersonSara Harberson of saraharberson.com and Admissions Revolution is a former Ivy League Associate Dean of Admissions and nationally recognized expert on elite college admissions.

The #1 mistake is taking an easy course load senior year. Students sometimes think senior year grades don’t matter. Sara dispels this myth emphatically.

 

Stephanie Shyu

founder-headshot-color-correctedStephanie Shyu is a graduate of Duke and UPenn and founder of AdmitSee, a peer-to-peer platform that features real, successful college applications.

Stephanie shared that the #1 mistake students make, which she herself made, is to focus on being well-rounded and appear scattered.

 

Lauren Gaggioli

lauren-gaggioli-300x300Lauren Gaggioli founded Higher Scores Test Prep, an online SAT & ACT prep company and is the host of The College Checklist Podcast.

The #1 mistake students make with the ACT and SAT is taking them cold without prepping. Lauren shared two bonus mistakes — not starting early enough and focusing on speed instead of accuracy when it comes to taking the ACT.

 

Alexis Avila

Alexis Avila is a certified K-12 guidance counselor and full-time private tutor media-headshot-squarewho founded Prepped & Polished and hosts a weekly show, The Prepped & Polished Podcast.

Alexis’s #1 mistake students make when studying for the ACT and SAT is procrastination. He recommends studying for at least 2 months prior to taking the test.

 

Nate Turner

nate-squareNate’s counsel and advice are included on his blog The Raising Supaman Project and in his books Raising Supaman and Stop The Bus. His son’s, Naeem’s, accomplishments include playing soccer on three continents, including in two of Brazil’s top professional academies, and attending Santa Clara University, where he’s studying electrical engineering and computer science and engineering.

The #1 mistake students and parents make when applying to colleges is not applying to enough colleges and not applying to a wide variety of colleges. Naeem applied to 27 universities and got into 24 of those.

 

Ethan Sawyer

Ethan Sawyer, the College Essay Guy, has been helping students tell their stories for more than ethan-sawyer-bio-phototen years. He’s a graduate of Northwestern and UC Irvine.

Ethan’s #1 mistake students make when writing their personal statements is focusing too much on the details instead of the content. Remember: Sacrifice the essay of yesterday for the essay of tomorrow.

 

Ms. Sun

circle477Ms. Sun is a UC admissions expert who has been guiding students to the top UCs since 2006. Ms. Sun created AskMsSun.com to help students navigate the complex UC admissions process.

The #1 mistake students make is talking about someone besides themselves.

Dr. Shirag Shemmassian

Dr. Shirag Shemmassian, founder of Shemmassian Academic Consulting, is a nationally recognized shirag-shemmassian-academic-consultingcollege admissions expert who has helped hundreds of families get into America’s top colleges.

The #1 mistake students and families make when applying to colleges is thinking each portion of the application is separate.

 

Anna Ren

aren-headshotAnna Ren is on a mission to make applying for college as transparent and stress-free as possible for families everywhere. She’s the founder of Elite Advantage Prep and the affordable online college planning course, Prep for Success.

The #1 mistake students make at alumni interviews is not giving detailed answers.

 

Nived Ravikumar

Nived Ravikumar, the Statement Guru, has been helping college and grad school hopefuls make their dreamcollegesummitnivedpersonal statements sparkle.

The #1 mistake students make is to look at what’s been written and try to do their version of it. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of the generic.

 

Neelam Sethi

neelam-sethiNeelam Sethi’s four highly motivated children attended top universities, two at Stanford and two at UC Berkeley. She’s a retired elementary school teacher sharing her best advice to raise motivated children at raisetopkids.com.

The #1 mistake students make when applying to colleges is to underestimate themselves and not highlight all their accomplishments. A bonus mistake she gave was not applying to elite colleges because you think you can’t afford them.

 

Peter Peng

Peter, founder of Young Prodigy and Brown alum, has devoted himself as a full-time SAT/ACT peter-peng-young-prodigy-headshotstrategist and admissions essay consultant.

The #1 mistake students make is taking practice tests every weekend without actually learning the topic they are struggling with.

 

If you want to hear even more insider tips and secrets from these amazing experts and more, get your FREE ticket to the online Dream College Summit, running September 26-30, 2016, and learn from 14 top experts in college admissions, test prep, and the personal statement. As a thank you, you’ll receive my Ultimate Guide to the Common App with your ticket.

 

This post also appears on The Huffington Post.

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