5 easily avoidable mistakes to think about when looking at colleges

Jon Jaworowski
Jon Jaworowski
March 19, 2021

Without a doubt, applying to college is a lot of work. You may be wondering, "What are some mistakes that I should avoid?” Here is a list of five of the most common mistakes that I have seen when my high school friends and I applied to colleges.

1. Applying to every school

The first mistake that I personally made is thinking that I had to apply to every single college that had an admissions counselor talk to me. First of all, this can be very time-consuming, expensive and not beneficial at all in the long run. 

As you may be aware, not all colleges use the same application for admission. If you fill one out for each school, it can become time-consuming because you are constantly re-filling out information, writing different information and spending a lot of time making sure that your application looks good. 

Additionally, it does cost to send your ACT, SAT or PSAT scores to colleges. Some high schools charge their students to send their transcripts to colleges and universities. If you’re applying to a large number of schools, these costs can add up and cost a lot of money.

In the end, you’ll have a list of five or fewer colleges that you actually want to attend, so why spend the money applying to places that you know you don’t want to go to?

2. Following your friends

Another common mistake that I saw among my high school classmates is that people wanted to follow their friend groups. While the college that the friend groups all decide to go to has a good program for what some of them want to study, it probably doesn’t offer the best program, community or fit for all of them.

This could lead to people in the friend group applying and transferring to another school, which could cost them more time and money.

You should base your college decision on your own goals, interests and budget.

3. Procrastinating

High school students tend to wait until the last minute for pretty much anything, but it’s not a good idea for college decisions. I personally started my search for colleges during my sophomore year of high school. 

College searching and filling out applications should not be pushed off until the last minute. Students should start early to make sure that they have enough information about what programs schools offer, costs, scholarships and opportunities for study abroad and research. Putting off finding this information can lead to a false sense of how you feel about the school, and you might find the school you chose isn’t the great fit you thought it was..

Another important thing to consider is how you are seen by the school. The earlier a student connects and makes an impression on an admissions counselor, the more likely they are to be recruited and receive extra scholarships from the school. 

This is extremely important and is one of the most crucial reasons why high school students shouldn’t wait until the last minute to start thinking about college.

4. Not applying for scholarships

No matter where you go to college, higher education is expensive. One way to help combat that cost is to apply for scholarships. Scholarships are offered either through the institution itself or from other sources that can be found in your community.

This is another thing that should be considered sooner rather than later, because there are often deadlines attached to them. Scholarships are one of the most important things to think about when you’re applying for college.

5. Not being yourself

Admissions counselors, coaches, professors and directors want to know you as you. It’s extremely important that you act like yourself in your meetings because it gives the college a sense of what you’re like, and they'll be more open and honest with you the more that they get to know you. 

Additionally, this is important because they may have students from the school reach out to you. They’re going to try to match someone with similar interests as you, so being yourself will allow for better opportunities when they connect you with current students.

Now, I really urge you to follow these tips and be genuine when you are on your college search. Be yourself, be prepared and don’t procrastinate.

Jon Jaworowski
Jon Jaworowski

Jon Jaworowski, Class of 2023, is from Rockford, Ill. He is a vocal music education major and theatre arts minor. Jon is a member of the Augustana Choir, the Augustana Academic Chorus, and the Augustana chapters of NAfME and ACDA.  Jon is also involved in the theatre department at Augustana, and the Spotlight Theatre in Moline, Ill.  Jon also helps manage the Augustana Oratorio Society, works as a social media coordinator for the fine arts department, and is also a music librarian for the choir department.