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Articles / Applying to College / Spelling Snafu on Application

Aug. 1, 2008

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.

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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