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Correcting application errors after submission … or not

Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone 3063 replies1114 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
edited January 2014 in College Admissions
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, it’s 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 “it’s” instead of “its” or “here” instead of “hear” or has forgotten to close a quotation or parentheses.

While it won’t look great that you wrote “recieve” instead of “receive” or that you proclaimed your interest in a “psycology” major, you really don’t 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 it’s 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 don’t 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 don’t have time to respond personally to all the “Ask the Dean” questions I’m 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.
edited January 2014
1114 replies
Post edited by Sally_Rubenstone on
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Replies to: Correcting application errors after submission … or not

  • placido240placido240 614 replies22 threads- Member
    I have an ask the Dean question, since you may be in the answering mood. For a variety of reasons, it made sense to apply to some colleges using their paper/Common App during the last week in December. These were colleges not previously discussed with the GC (GCs were out, of course, the last week and no one responded to email). Thus, it is necessary to get these on the list and get the paperwork (transcripts, recs, etc.) sorted out for mailing to the colleges this week and next. I am assuming and hoping that the massive to-the-ceilings stack of mail at colleges at this point will make the colleges generally indifferent that the follow-up school stuff is arriving 2 - 4 weeks after their application deadlines (all of which were met). Am I wrong about that indifference?
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  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone 3063 replies1114 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
    placido240--Please stick to the topic at hand. You can copy and paste your "Ask the Dean" question here: Ask The Dean at College Confidential.com - College Confidential and I will be on the lookout for it.

    Meanwhile, proofread your applications, even if they've already been sent, and use THIS thread to ask questions about any errors you may have unearthed.
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  • JbrizzJbrizz 1 replies0 threads New Member
    Hi, I applied ED to Cornell Hotel School and made a few mistakes on my essay and activities section of my common app (submitted everything already). I talked in my essay about how when I sat in on a class there they gave out food and put it in the cup holder of my seat but there was actually not a cup holder (I could have sworn there was, but apparently they just handed it out). Is that a really bad error? I also used the past tense for all of my common app activities and restated my positions in the description (e.g. Team captain and said I was named team captain senior year as part of my activity description). Also feel like I used boring verbs such as helped, organized etc. Any serious issues there?
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  • kgoodwin18kgoodwin18 187 replies8 threads Junior Member
    These are not so much errors as they are...omissions. For example...

    1) I received the Bryn Mawr President's Book Award, as well as the Swarthmore College Book Award. I was also a Junior Marshal at my school. However, I didn't include any of these things in the Academic Honors/Achievement sections because I didn't know how to classify them (or, at least the book awards). I simply forgot about Junior Marshal.

    2) My freshman and sophomore year, my magnet program required me to have at least 20 hours of community service each year. However, I'm at a new school now and though I've continued doing my community service VOLUNTARILY, I've only included my recent volunteer work. All in all, I had about 30-35 hours of community service that I didn't include from freshman and sophomore year on my common app. And since I can't remember, the specific agencies I volunteered at back then, I might have to find my magnet director and ask him/her if they've saved my records.

    So, basically, is it work sending in an Additional Information page to include all these things? I feel like all these hours and accolades are important and could sway my admissions decision if it came down to it.
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  • HatesScreenNamesHatesScreenNames 6 replies4 threads New Member
    I mistakenly put for one of my minor EC's that I participated for 20 hr/wk for 3 wks instead of 3 hrs/wk for 20 wks... Does anyone think I should contact the schools?
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  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone 3063 replies1114 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
    kgoodwin18--Rather than submitting these awards and events as application errors or omissions, simply send your colleges a resume that includes them. I'm a big fan of what I call the "annotated activities list." This is sort of like a resume on steroids ... i.e., it includes brief explanations (a sentence or so) of your various endeavors. You don't need to provide this sort of explanation for EVERY item on the list ... only for those that aren't self-explanatory or where you have put in atypical effort that might not be obvious from the listing alone. (This can also be a handy place to toss in a touch of humor here and there.)

    The two book awards are impressive and colleges should see them. The "Junior Marshal" is a good example of an entry that requires a brief explanation because many admission folks won't know what you mean.
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  • kgoodwin18kgoodwin18 187 replies8 threads Junior Member
    That's a good idea! Thanks Sally_Rubenstone. Just one more question: I actually think I have the organizations where I volunteered in the 9th and 10th grade. I just don't have the hours. Do you think this would be okay with colleges?
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  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone 3063 replies1114 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
    kgoodwin18--A ballpark estimate of the hours is all that colleges want. You should be able to remember if you volunteered a couple hours a week or a couple hours a month, etc. If your hours were variable, just average them out.

    HatesScreenNames--If your "20-hour per week" activity took place during the school year, admission officials will probably figure out that you made a mistake. Unless this was a very recent activity or unless you find OTHER mistakes on your applications that should be corrected, too, you can let this one go.
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  • HatesScreenNamesHatesScreenNames 6 replies4 threads New Member
    Thank you, Sally! The activity was during the school year, and it was a peer tutoring group that I formed, so I thought they'd figure it out... But thanks, I was getting a little paranoid ;)
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  • kgoodwin18kgoodwin18 187 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Would it be a good idea to send in this annotated resume along with my mid-year report to save postage money? Also (sorry for all the questions, but I promise this is the last one), in my middle school years, I was named a Duke TIP Scholar. However, upon entering high school, I've received no other information or news from this program. Could I still include it in my resume.

    OH, just remembered something! I attended Notre Dame's Seminar for African-American Scholars and Windows on Williams, a program for Williams College. I'm applying to both of these schools, they probably have record of these programs. But to other schools, would these things matter? Both programs required an application, essays, test scores, etc. and were selective.
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  • kgoodwin18kgoodwin18 187 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Would it be a good idea to send in this annotated resume along with my mid-year report to save postage money? Also (sorry for all the questions, but I promise this is the last one), in my middle school years, I was named a Duke TIP Scholar. However, upon entering high school, I've received no other information or news from this program. Could I still include it in my resume.

    OH, just remembered something! I attended Notre Dame's Seminar for African-American Scholars and Windows on Williams, a program for Williams College. I'm applying to both of these schools, they probably have record of these programs. But to other schools, would these things matter? Both programs required an application, essays, test scores, etc. and were selective.
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  • xenophiliaxenophilia 60 replies9 threads Junior Member
    I talked about a school's international RELATIONS major when they only have an international STUDIES major. How big of a deal is that? Should I try to fix it?
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  • RedSevenRedSeven 1656 replies9 threads Senior Member
    ^
    I'd argue that that's basically the same thing and can be chalked up to a somewhat minor typo. I wouldn't bother correcting that. They'll know what you mean.
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  • smashedpumpkin65smashedpumpkin65 58 replies5 threads Junior Member
    One of my Common App essay's sentences lacks a phrase. It reads something like: "No longer worried about mistakes, . I found that music, etc. etc."
    It really disrupts the flow of the essay, and kind of leaves a bit of information out. Should I email the admissions with the corrected sentence?
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  • valorianevaloriane 50 replies4 threads Junior Member
    For my common essay, I misspelled the word "available". I have no idea how. I've only sent applications out to a fraction of my colleges, so is it possible to fix this mistake for ones I haven't sent it to yet?


    For my Yale supplement, I wrote "it's" instead of "its" twice. I can't get over it. I was doing all of my essays on Google Docs, and only after I saw them on Microsoft Word yesterday did I realize. My jaw dropped, I have no idea how I allowed such stupid mistakes to slip...
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  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone 3063 replies1114 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
    @kgoodwin18
    Would it be a good idea to send in this annotated resume along with my mid-year report to save postage money?

    Yep
    in my middle school years, I was named a Duke TIP Scholar. However, upon entering high school, I've received no other information or news from this program. Could I still include it in my resume.

    Ordinarily I discourage using middle school endeavors in college resumes, but TIP is a well-respected program and your participation as a middle-schooler does show that you were qualified for--and interested in--this level of academic challenge at a early age. So go ahead and include it under a "Summer Activities" heading but don't devote a lot of space to it (i.e., no annotations ... admission folks will recognize it).
    I attended Notre Dame's Seminar for African-American Scholars and Windows on Williams, a program for Williams College. I'm applying to both of these schools, they probably have record of these programs. But to other schools, would these things matter? Both programs required an application, essays, test scores, etc. and were selective.

    These programs are basically recruitment events for the sponsoring colleges. Even though OTHER colleges realize that you're applying elsewhere, there's no need to rub it in their faces. So I suggest that you customize your resume for Williams and ND. Include their programs on their respective resumes but don't share the info with other schools. (However, if you do end up sharing it, no biggie.)
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  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone 3063 replies1114 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
    I talked about a school's international RELATIONS major when they only have an international STUDIES major. How big of a deal is that? Should I try to fix it?

    xenophilia-I agree with RedSeven. In a perfect world you would have caught that small error before you sent the app, but it's no big deal, and to correct it at this point would probably just make you look a bit obsessive. Keep in mind also that, at most colleges, half the admission staff won't know the official name of the program either. ;)
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  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone 3063 replies1114 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
    valoriane--Here are instructions on making changes to the Common App after you've already submitted it.

    From the Common App instructions:
    Application Versions

    The Common Application should generally be completed once, with identical copies sent to all colleges. You should create a new version if you wish to correct an error discovered after submission or provide new information not available when you first submitted the application. It is not necessary to "customize" your Common Application for individual colleges. Individual college supplements and supplemental essay questions should be used to provide special information to different colleges. Below are the steps necessary to create an alternate version.

    Step1: You must submit the Common Application to at least one institution first. You cannot create an alternate version until this has occurred.

    Step 2: You must log out of the application then go to this special URL:
    https://www.commonapp.org/CommonApp/Default.aspx?allowcopy=true

    and login using your existing User Name and Password.

    Step 3: Upon login you will be taken to the 'Common Application' page, where you will see information about the application you have already submitted. The ability to create an alternate version of your submitted Common Application is now activated, and you should click on the ‘Replicate’ link to make an alternate version of your submitted application. When this is complete, a second version will be visible on your screen and a special drop down list will appear in the upper right corner of your application. You can use this drop down to move between application versions.

    All data from your original version of your Common Application will be transferred to your alternate version, with the exception of any documents that you uploaded. You may edit any of this information before you submit it to another institution.

    You only need to go to the special URL the first time you create an alternative version. Thereafter, additional application versions can be made by going to the ‘Common Application’ section within your original Common Application and using the ‘Replicate’ link. You may make up to 10 versions, including the original version. You only need your original User Name and Password to access all versions.

    When you create the first alternate version of your application you will see a simple confirmation message. If you create any additional alternate versions of your application you will need to complete two affirmation statements then click the 'OK' button. You may also click the 'Cancel' button to not create the new alternate version.

    You will have a separate My Colleges page for each application version. Each institution can only be on the My Colleges list of one application version, and you can have a total of 20 institutions across all versions.

    You can move an institution from one version to a different version at any time prior to submitting the Common App to that institution by selecting the college on the My Colleges page and clicking on the "Move College" button.

    Depending on exactly where in your app you misspelled "available," a new version may not be worth the hassle.

    Re your Yale snafu ... not ideal but not a deal-breaker either. Don't worry about it.
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  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone 3063 replies1114 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
    smashedpumpkin65--

    I don't see enough of the essay here to evaluate the extent of your error. Maybe you can add more, or perhaps another CC member gets what you're saying and can advise.
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  • lasopranolasoprano 21 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Hi! I've filled 2 fields wrong in my application.
    1. In the 'Earnings towards' blank, I filled in 'towards coll fees, coll fund, and so on'.
    2. In the Awards section, I meant to write that I was the editor of my school and college English paper, but the description just reads 'Editor - sasad'.

    These were the last 2 changes to my application and I'm guessing they weren't saved, I don't know why.
    Is it worth sending a message to the Admissions Counsellor asking him to please change these fields? Or will he just be peeved?
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