ic S/general/checkmark circled Thanks for subscribing! Be on the lookout for our next newsletter.
ic S/general/checkmark circled
Saved to My Favorites. View My Favorites
Articles / Applying to College / I Submitted the Wrong Essay on My Common App

I Submitted the Wrong Essay on My Common App

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Nov. 3, 2020
I Submitted the Wrong Essay on My Common App

Ekaterina Bolovtsova/Pexels

I made a huge mistake and I am not sure what to do. I sent a supplemental essay that was meant for one school to another college. The prompts were basically the same so I confused the two and yesterday was the deadline so I sent them out already through Common App. How do I fix this?

As "huge" as this mistake feels to you right now, take comfort in the fact that thousands of college applicants over the eons are guilty of similar screw-ups, and that admission officials are sympathetic to your situation. You didn't torpedo your acceptance odds with this snafu, but there is some damage control ahead.

It's not clear to "The Dean" if two colleges received another school's essay or just one. (And it's also not clear how you even managed to do this, since most supplemental essays are right in the online application. Perhaps you copied the essay from your files and then pasted it in the wrong place?) But regardless of what caused this mini-crisis, simply send a brief and apologetic email that explains your error, with the proper essay attached, to whichever college — or colleges — received an incorrect essay. Direct your message to the main admission address with a Cc to your regional rep. (This is the staff member who oversees applicants from your high school, and — if you don't know who it is — look on the website or call the admission office.)

College admission officials understand that students must apply to more than one college, and they won't hold it against you for aiming for a competitor school. But if a college that received the wrong essay is actually your first choice, your correction email is a great place to say so!

About the Ask the Dean Column

Sally Rubenstone is a veteran of the college admissions process and is the co-author of three books covering admissions. She worked as a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years and has also served as an independent college counselor, in addition to working as a senior advisor at College Confidential since 2002. If you'd like to submit a question to The Dean please email us at editorial@collegeconfidential.com.

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.

More on Applying to College

See all
typing at computer- karolina-grabowska-6958506-resized

Authentic Voice in College Essays

That’s why you want to use your authentic voice when writing any college essay.

So what’s the problem? A student has shared an ess…


College Interview Prep Tips: Brainstorm, Research, Analyze, Generalize

I recently visited Washington University in Saint Louis and was lucky enough to set up an interview. By speaking with peers of mi…

campus gates

Academic Index Scores: Why They Matter and How They're Calculated

Note: Click here for 10 Summer Programs You Can Still Apply For or keep reading to learn more about academic index scores.

8 Podcasts for Students Going Through the Admissions Process

7 Podcasts for Students Going Through the Admissions Process

Podcasts can offer a wealth of information to busy students, particularly when it comes to the college admissions process. We…


Avoid College Application Regrets: Tips For Getting It Right the First Time

Decision Day occurs each year on May 1st and is the deadline for students to inform the college of their choice of their intent t…

Get a student loan that goes beyond tuition.

Ascent offers cosigned and non-cosigned student loans with exclusive benefits that set students up for success.

Explore Now!
Find Your Scholarship

Want to find money for school that doesn’t need to be paid back? Access insights and advice on how to search and apply for scholarships!

Find Scholarships