Preparing for College

Spelling Snafu on Application

Question: After submitting an online application to an Ivy League university, I realized that I made about three spelling errors. One of these errors included spelling my name wrong on one form. Will they reject my application because of this? Have my chances of admission decreased dramatically?

While it's never great to make spelling mistakes on an application, you can rest assured that your application--and YOU--won't be rejected just because of this. Your chances of admission have not decreased dramatically. However, since you spelled your name incorrectly on one form, you might have inadvertently screwed up a filing process that could lead to a lost document or the incorrect entry of data. That's not likely, but--depending on where and how you made your error--it's possible.


So, here's what I suggest: Send a cute note (e-mail or otherwise) to the admission office. Make fun of yourself by saying, "Would you ever admit an applicant who can't spell her own name? I hope so! ..." then go on to explain your error (very briefly). You can also point out that you were unfamiliar with the online application format and made a couple other spelling goofs along the way.

You shouldn't make a big deal about this, but--because your misspelled name might confuse some records--it's probably worth the follow-up.

In general, although applications are not shoved into the "Out" pile as soon as a spelling error is spotted, it's wise to proof each submission as carefully as possible. The best way to do this is to print preliminary copies and let someone with a fresh pair of eyes (e.g., parent, sibling, friend) look for mistakes you may have missed. Admission folks tend to be more tolerant of occasional typos than of simple words that the applicant looks like he or she can't spell. (Top contenders in this category include: Definitely, Received, business, psychology). Also remember to capitalize proper nouns like Spanish and French.

As my College Confidential colleague Dave Berry always says, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." So take some extra time to make sure that everything on your next application is spelled correctly.