Tips to troubleshoot college application errors


Photo by Sharon Oh

Senior Sharon Oh on Oct. 5 reviewing her college applications before tuning them in to meet November deadlines.

After working on a college application for the entire summer, spending countless hours on the personal and supplemental essays and struggling with additional questions that come with the applications, you finally get to hit submit and send it to your dream college. The burden of finishing your application for months is finally gone. You’re waiting for the email to create a prospective student portal… and then you notice a mistake.

Each college has numerous steps to officially complete the application, which makes it easy to forget one. “Applying to colleges has been pretty stressful. You have to do the common app essay, supplementals, fill out personal information, submit the FAFSA and CSS profile, interviews, submitting SAT and AP scores, request transcripts and letters of recommendation, etc. There are so many parts that make the process stressful,” senior Salma Tagnaouti said.

Set a goal for yourself and say, I’m going to get A, B & C completed by this date. I would always recommend starting early and doing a section a day.”

— Kathleen Carr

Before starting to fill out the applications or getting ready to submit, it is important to familiarize yourself with the process, and take it step-by-step. “First and foremost, students should watch the three-minute video about matching the Common App to their Naviance accounts. This also includes how and where to fill out the FERPA release form (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). A student will not be able to request any documentation until these steps are taken. This video can be found on the first page of the Student Naviance Account. Many of the issues arise because these simple steps have not been followed. You can save a lot of time wasted by taking the three minutes to watch the video. Set a goal for yourself and say, I’m going to get A,B & C completed by this date. I would always recommend starting early and doing a section a day,” college and career counselor Kathleen Carr said.

The first step when you notice a mistake is to remain calm. Nobody’s perfect and it will be OK. The key is to be honest and communicate with the appropriate people. Is the mistake big enough to draw attention to? Was it a misspelling of one organization you are a part of or did you do your grade report wrong?

Next, you can reach out to Carr who has helpful information and can help guide you. “I haven’t made any mistakes on my application but I did email Ms. Carr over the summer about a waiver for an application for college and she responded to me very quickly and was really helpful and nice,” senior Sharon Oh said.

The process may end here or continue depending on the mistake you have made. If you have to keep going, your next step is to likely email the admissions rep for your college. “If you need to change information on a submitted application, you must contact the college’s admissions office directly to ask how they would like you to proceed,” according to the Common App support page.

College websites have pages where you can find the admissions representatives for the area. The admission reps for our area for the following in-state school are as follows: Ryan Clear from the University of Maryland, Melissa Stoker from Towson, and Caitlin Henry from UMBC.

When you craft an email or make a call, be honest and straightforward and do not wait too long to send it. The sooner the better. This is also why it is advised to send your application at least a week before the deadline, so you can work out any errors that may have occurred.