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Articles / Applying to College / I Cheated Myself Out of Community Service Hours on My Applications!

Jan. 18, 2013

I Cheated Myself Out of Community Service Hours on My Applications!

Question: I realized after I submitted my Common App to almost all of my schools that I had accidentally put the number of hours I did PER DAY for an extracurricular instead of per week like I was supposed to. This made my hours go to 1/5 of what they are supposed to be. An example is that I put 8 hrs per week when it should have been 40 hrs per week. How can I go about correcting this, or should I not?

There seems to be a significant difference between the hours you actually served and the hours that you wrote on your application … a difference that might work against you (at least slightly) at decision time, if you don’t correct it.


So I suggest that you send a brief note (either by email or snail mail) to every college to which you’ve already applied. You might want to keep it light and “cute” … e.g., try something like this:

Although I’m acing calculus and English, it seems like I’ve forgotten how to multiply … or maybe I just can’t read! The number of community service hours I recorded on my application was the DAILY total when the application actually asked for the WEEKLY total. So the figures you received are just 20% of what they should be. Sorry for the confusion at a busy time of year for you.

This certainly isn’t a big deal, but it makes sense to provide the colleges with accurate information, given that you spend a lot of time doing community service, which won’t be apparent from your applications without the amendment.

(posted 1/10/2013)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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