This week my Ask the Dean mailbag is full of panicked missives from seniors who are freaking out over application errors mistakes that they caught only AFTER they hit the Submit button. All are wondering how much these snafus will torpedo their admission odds and if contacting the colleges to correct the screw-ups will only shine a spotlight on them.
In most cases, my response is Relax. Although, of course, its smart to proofread your apps BEFORE you send them (and a second pair of eyes can really help here, too), small, unintentional application errors are rarely deal-breakers. However, there ARE times when a follow-up is appropriate. So when?
Ignore the garden-variety typos. Everyone on the planet has at some point written its instead of its or here instead of hear or has forgotten to close a quotation or parentheses.
While it wont look great that you wrote recieve instead of receive or that you proclaimed your interest in a psycology major, you really dont want to call more attention to your goof or annoy the admission folks by adding an extra email to their workload. (However, if you misspelled a CRITICAL word, such as business, REPEATEDLY throughout your essay or application, then a brief but humorous correction note would be apt something along the lines of, I know that you have other BUSINESS to attend to, and I should probably mind my own BUSINESS, but I noticed an egregious spelling snafu in my personal statement and felt that despite my current BUSY-NESS and yours, I should add a correction and an apology ).
For other sorts of errors, there can be gray area when deciding whether or not to make a change. For instance, if you said that you volunteered at the soup kitchen for two hours each week, but its really two hours each MONTH, then you ought to send a correction. Some colleges do spot check EC reports. But if you really put in two hours a week up until October when your commitment fell off, then you dont need to amend your initial application.
If you decide that any of your application errors DO require follow-up, you should absolutely do this NO MORE THAN ONCE. Go over your apps with a fine-toothed comb and send corrections via email for only the major mistakes. Never send more than one follow-up message, should you catch even more mistakes later on. There is a difference between showing that you are honest and conscientious versus annoying and obsessive!
I dont have time to respond personally to all the Ask the Dean questions Im getting about application errors. But if you post your concerns here, you may find that other CC members (including actual college officials) may weigh in and let you know if you should be sending a correction to your colleges or simply sitting on your hands and trying not to freak out.