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The "Don't Do" List

posted Dec 16, 2016, 1:35 PM by Nancy Bell
Guest Blog by Jordan Graffis, Owner of Landmark 12 Consulting

Finalize a college list?  Check.  Complete applications? Check.  Proof-read essays?  Check.

With senior year in full swing, many high school students are busy juggling their classes and college admissions requirements.  It’s one of the most stressful times in their young lives.  Many of them are taking challenging coursework to better prepare them for college, actively engaging in extracurriculars for their student resumes, and trying to manage the long list of application deadlines.  The to-do list goes on and on, and many students feel like they can’t check requirements off fast enough.  It quickly becomes overwhelming.

To help during this stressful time, I thought I would provide a “Don’t-Do” list.  It’s a short run-down of the things students don’t need to worry about.

First, don’t sweat the small stuff.  It’s trite but true.  Students get so caught up in trying to earn the top grade, being the best player on the field, and being elected to a top position in their clubs that they aren’t cherishing this very special time in their lives.  True, it’s important to demonstrate work ethic and dedication when applying to college, but it’s easy to go overboard. Try to relax, and don’t take yourself too seriously.  Enjoy high school because the real world is quickly approaching.   

Speaking of grades, teams and clubs… that brings me to my second “don’t-do.”  Don’t fluff up your student resumes with a thousand extracurricular activities, many of which you minimally participated in or don’t care about.  You’re not fooling anyone.  College admissions officers know you’re exaggerating because no one can be actively, passionately involved in that many things.  So list the ones that you’re most proud of; the ones you held leadership roles in or were very involved with; the ones that best represent who you are.

And speaking of those admission officers, here’s my third “don’t do: Don’t bombard them with calls and emails.  Often times, that “urgent” question you have isn’t really that urgent, and if you took some time to really think about it, or research it, before picking up the phone, you could probably come up with the answer yourself.  Also, there’s a reason that the FAQ section exists on colleges’ websites.  Always check that first before potentially setting yourself apart from other applicants in a not-so-flattering way.

Finally, the last two “don’t-do’s” are actually “to-do’s”.  (I just couldn’t help myself.  I love a good to-do list):  Don’t forget to proof-read your applications and don’t wait until the last minute to start on essays.  With those applications, it’s easy to get into a rhythm, since you’re filling out so many, but it’s also easy to make mistakes.  You want that application to be the best representation of who you are…so always proof-read.

As for the essays, they’re a great way to show the “real” you.  They are your chance to set yourself apart from other applicants… in a good way.  So make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to brainstorm ideas, write several drafts, and of course, proof-read. Essays always take students longer than they thought they would.  So consider yourself warned.  Also, it could be argued that this part of the application is one of the most important, so give it the attention it deserves.

Still feeling overwhelmed (especially since I just gave you two extra to-do’s)?  Don’t stress.  Landmark 12 Consulting can help with everything listed above.  We’ll even manage your to-do (and your don’t-do) list.  That way, you’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Hey, it’s trite but true.

To get help with your college application process, call Jordan Graffis at (843) 901-2545 or visit