Your elementary school teacher knew best — Many of the biggest college application red flags occur when students forget the 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic .
Read the instructions and follow them.
Read the prompts. Make sure your essays actually address them.
Know your deadlines, especially for early action/decision applications.
Know where to submit your supplementary materials and when they are due (oftentimes they have a different due date and submission portal than your main application).
Read the advice of others online and incorporate their feedback into your apps.
Your writing is a reflection of you.
Don’t make spelling mistakes. Don’t make grammatical mistakes. That’s lazy writing, and lazy writing makes you look like a lazy person.
If you can’t get a teacher or friend to read over your materials, use a service like Grammarly or, at the very least, Microsoft Word’s spell checker.
Here’s a simple editing tip that’s changed my life: After you’re done writing a draft, print out everything you’ve written and make a dot over every word with a pen. This will prevent you from glossing over your words as you edit, and force you to think through every word choice and phrase.
Make sure your numbers add up.
Don’t claim to do more than 100 hours of activities per week (you must sleep and go to school).
If you claim to have accomplished something in your application, provide a number to back it up. “Started a non-profit and helped people” carries less weight than “Started a non-profit that served 20,000 meals over the past 3 years.”