Whoops! What to Do If You Make an Error on Your College Application


You thought you crossed all your t's and dotted all of your i's to make sure your college application was 100 percent perfect -- but what if you send in a college application and then later realize that you made an error on it? Before you head into a tailspin, realize that everyone makes mistakes, and hopefully, this is a minor one that can be easily remedied.

Evaluate Error Type

Your course of action depends on what kind of error is in your application. If you made a mistake on your college essay, such as a typo or a copy and paste error where a sentence is in the wrong spot, it may be a simpler fix than you think.

In this case, you should be able to contact the college's admissions office and ask if you can resubmit your essay. Errors in essays can still occur even if students try to be as thorough as possible.

“That's why I suggest proofreading by reading all their responses out loud; students should actually say the words out loud rather than just to just reading to themselves," advises Marilyn G. S. Emerson, founder of Emerson Educational Consulting of Manhattan and Scarsdale, N.Y.

However, if your error is a larger mistake or it occurs on a college application to a very selective institution, it may be a little more difficult to correct — but not impossible.

“The more selective the college, the more difficult it may be to correct the error, but most schools want to yield admitted students and will work with the student in the situation," says Kate Coffman, vice president of admission and financial aid at Franklin College. “If a student made an error on an application to Franklin College, I would advise they call or email apologizing for the error and then submit corrected materials. Different schools will handle the error differently."

Large Errors Can Create Issues

A large error might be an oversight or something you forgot, but in some cases, it could be viewed as deceptive, which is more problematic.

“If it is a larger error, like they failed to disclose a disciplinary issue they faced and now realize they should have — that is often something that could prevent admission," notes Coffman.

Contacting the institution as soon as possible to resolve how to correct such an error is imperative, but sometimes you may want to seek a counselor's advice before contacting the institution. It might be helpful in this case to seek out the guidance of a college admission officer for your target school who is responsible for recruiting students in the territory where you live.

“Admission officers are responsible for certain high schools within their territory; build a relationship with that person," recommends Coffman. “That would be the best person in this situation to make aware of the issue and see if they can help you navigate what is the best solution."

If you are unable to reach out to the admission officer who is responsible for the territory where you live, make an appointment with your high school counselor to see if they can assist you in contacting the college and finding out the steps you need to take to try and fix your application error.

Hopefully, your counselor can help work with the college to get the situation resolved. Whatever happens, consider this a lesson learned and try to avoid making whatever error this is on future college applications.