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Mistakes you've made on your applications


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Surely I'm not the only one who has made a cringe-worthy mistake on their application? Many, many glasses of vodka have been dedicated to the dumb mistakes I've made throughout the application process; I thought it might be therapeutic for us all to gather in a circle and share our woes.

Mistake 1: I applied for a fellowship that I haven't gotten (and probably won't). And I listed it under "national awards" on my CV with the word "pending" next to it, per my professor's suggestion. It's not pending. That makes it sound like I've gotten it and am just waiting for the check to be written! It's going to look like either I lied or I'm incompetent. Gah!

Mistake 2: Find the error: "Professor So-and-so has assured me that I am an excellent fit for [group], and after visiting his lab, I am agree." Yes. Yes I am.

Mistake 3: In my SOP I mentioned that I would be continuing to work with the professors I worked with over the summer. The day after submitting my applications, they informed me that this would no longer be necessary. 

 

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Stop reading your application materials, people! You are torturing yourselves and there is nothing to gain. Typos and small mistakes (like basically ALL the things everybody has listed here) will NOT

I accidentally mailed a random receipt along with my SOP letter to the chair. He emailed me and asked what the receipt's purpose was. Thoroughly embarrassed.

@wongjcz Hello, I would like submit my application for a Pdf in social welfare.... as you can see, I've already received my .docx degree from Microsoft, and am currently working on getting my JPE

Everything was perfect...except the writing example. What a piece of crap. I didn't have a writing sample from my UG program, so I wrote one for the applications. It was the most forced, well researched, piece of crap and it's such an important part of the applications. After I sent it, I noticed that I left a foot note labeled (cite source). WTH!?! I'm already counting myself out for those programs, but we shall see.

One application needed a shorter writing sample, so I broke down the longer piece of crap. I took a different approach to the research without having to rewrite everything. My new writing sample is AMAZING. I could quite easily make this second essay longer, and it is perfectly focused for the programs that I am applying to attend...but it's too late. The applications are in except for this last one. It's my second choice so it wouldn't be bad to get accepted to only that program.

I just try not to think about it too much.

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  1. In all but one of my programs, you receive two degrees (a masters and an educational specialist degree). In the personal statement to a college that offers just the master's I accidentally said that I'd get an educational specialist degree because I was so used to dual degrees. Blah
  2. Accidentally said "that" instead of "than"
  3. Some colleges have it so the application to the school is due earlier than the departmental application. I called one college, spoke to them, and I swear they said I had until 1/1 to turn things in. My GRE scores got there 12/30, the application was due 12/1, so honestly I have no idea if they will just throw my application out or not.
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I used "Additionally" as a transition two times in a row in my first choice SOP, as in "Additionally, I performed research on A, B, C. Additionally, I believe I would be a great fit..." 

*Cries*

I did send them an updated SOP mentioning another professor I wanted to work with (he replied to an email after I submitted my applications...he's not directly in the department, but is affiliated faculty and seemed positive about my research and said he would "be on my committee")...in the updated version, I took out the second "additionally"...but I'm not sure if doing that will help/hurt. :-/

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Stop reading your application materials, people! You are torturing yourselves and there is nothing to gain. Typos and small mistakes (like basically ALL the things everybody has listed here) will NOT get your application dismissed. It's about the overall impression, not one missed citation or typo or repeating "additionally" twice. More generally, I know exactly zero people who don't cringe when reading old text of theirs. If you read old stuff, you WILL find things you dislike. Everyone does. Your view of your writing is just so skewed, I promise you no one else sees the things you do or ascribes them nearly as much importance. You should only look at your materials if/when it is relevant--when prepping for interviews/visits. 

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28 minutes ago, fuzzylogician said:

Stop reading your application materials, people! You are torturing yourselves and there is nothing to gain. Typos and small mistakes (like basically ALL the things everybody has listed here) will NOT get your application dismissed. It's about the overall impression, not one missed citation or typo or repeating "additionally" twice. More generally, I know exactly zero people who don't cringe when reading old text of theirs. If you read old stuff, you WILL find things you dislike. Everyone does. Your view of your writing is just so skewed, I promise you no one else sees the things you do or ascribes them nearly as much importance. You should only look at your materials if/when it is relevant--when prepping for interviews/visits. 

I understand this sentiment, but I also like to hear about other applicants who have made mistakes...I think it provides a welcome counterpoint to a lot of the ridiculously competitive profiles that are listed on this site. :)

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I'm with @nevermind. (By the way, I am Dishsoap, I just didn't like my Facebook connected to this account). Reading through some of the profiles on this site can be depressing, and it's good to know that we are not the only small fish in the ocean.

 

I haven't read through my applications since they've been submitted just for the sake of looking over them. The "I am agree" one I found because I was using that portion of my SoP for another application and I had copied and pasted (and fixed) it. 

The rest of them I didn't know were mistakes at the time.

 

But yes, I also echo that sentiment. DO NOT READ OVER YOUR SUBMITTED APPLICATIONS.

 

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I don't think we're disagreeing as much as you seem to, but I do think you're going about it wrong. You look at anyone's CV and all that's listed are the successes. You see the conference they got into, not the one(s) they were rejected from, the journal they published in, not the ones that rejected the work or the misery of making several rounds of extensive revisions leading up to the final acceptance/rejection decision, the fellowship/award they got but not the rejection from 7 others and from that one the previous three years in a row, etc. Comparing yourself to people's "ridiculously competitive profiles" as you put it is just as productive as agonizing over a missed comma in your SOP. You're welcome to your conversation, of course, but I don't think this is the best way to have it. I have said on this site (and in real life) multiple times that we would all benefit from talking about our failures and presenting/perceiving a better image of ourselves/others, but this needs to come with the understanding that everyone has gone through failures, everyone has blemishes/problems in their past, and everyone sees that in themselves more than in others. Even the most successful people you might think of have their weaknesses and hard times, they just might not share them. I understand that seeing people only talk about their strengths makes you feel insecure because you know both about your strengths and your weaknesses, and maybe you give the latter more emphasis. So, talking about that is useful, if only to see that everybody else feels the same. That said, the conversation should be broader than overreactions to mistakes in your SOP, because in the grand scheme of things, no one (or two, or three) mistake(s) will be the end all of your application, it's about a much broader picture. This is what I'm objecting to--certainly not to talking about the issue in general.

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  • 2 weeks later...

In my very first line on my CV, I had a typo in the title of my Senior Honors Thesis. It was the center of the first line, right under my name. I saw it when downloading my CV to send to a professor as an example for her class, after I had submitted it to all schools I applied to. I had to step out into the hallway to compose myself because I thought they were going to deny me for being careless

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I haven't reread my materials at all... But I got a call with a fellowship offer today, and they asked for a "clean" copy of my SOP.  Turns out, I left a comment on it that said something like "should I add a quotation here?"  Excellent work, really my finest hour.  Somehow they still accepted me and do not think I am a complete idiot, and luckily that was the only one that had a comment on it still.

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On 1/22/2016 at 3:33 AM, underwater said:

I haven't reread my materials at all... But I got a call with a fellowship offer today, and they asked for a "clean" copy of my SOP.  Turns out, I left a comment on it that said something like "should I add a quotation here?"  Excellent work, really my finest hour.  Somehow they still accepted me and do not think I am a complete idiot, and luckily that was the only one that had a comment on it still.

Given that they asked for a clean copy, they obviously aren't going to disqualify you based on this. They are going to ignore it and read a copy that doesn't contain it. This is very good news. 

A typo also won't disqualify you, nor will mixing up an attachment. I assume you apologized and said it got there by accident, and I'm sure the chair understood, because we've all been there before. 

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5 hours ago, fuzzylogician said:

Given that they asked for a clean copy, they obviously aren't going to disqualify you based on this. They are going to ignore it and read a copy that doesn't contain it. This is very good news. 

A typo also won't disqualify you, nor will mixing up an attachment. I assume you apologized and said it got there by accident, and I'm sure the chair understood, because we've all been there before. 

They actually accepted me before they contacted me about the mistake!  It was pretty mortifying, though.

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On my SOP I wrote "amendable" instead of "amenable".... 

I know what both words mean, and use them often in writing, but haven't actually ever heard them said out loud. So I thought the second vowel in "amenable" was pronounced like the second vowel in "amendable". Turns out it's more like the vowel in mean. But I don't know if this is a dialectical thing, or I just don't know how to pronounce the word. Either way, that's why I made that typo. 

Hoping that after reading dozens of these SOPs, the adcomm reads it fast enough to glaze over that mistake. I just don't want to give them any excuse to think that maybe I should have taken TOFEL after all. 

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I refuse to re-read my application materials. 

Don't need that right now. Nope. That's asking for anxiety I can't fix.

I'm sure I minimized at least the grammatical errors, though. The first drafts of my letters were produced in a course my university held to prep applicants to apply for grad school, and all revisions took place over the course of an entire semester. I've probably invested 100+ hours into them. Even so, I'm sure there are errors. I'd like to be the one shocking example of a SoP that a committee finds error-free, but I doubt that happened.

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I found a typo on my CV after I applied for my first program. Luckily I fixed it so it wouldn't be on my others, but I agonized over it for hours. Funny enough, that's the only school I've heard back from so far, so I guess the typo wasn't a big deal.

Biggest "mistake" was with my LOR. One of my professors who was writing a letter for me wouldn't respond to any of my emails the second Fall exams were over. A week after my first application was due, she finally emailed back and said she had a family emergency. At this point I had already asked another professor to write a back up letter, but honestly her letter would look so much better on my application. Throughout the entire application process all of her letters were late, even after I'd email constant reminders. Just saw this week that one to WSU that I thought was already submitted was not, so it's 2 weeks late. I've been told that a late letter is not the end of the world, but my biggest mistake was not getting a back up recommender earlier in the semester and trusting a somewhat absent minded professor to take care of such an important part of my application. Besides that I haven't looked over my materials. I know I'll find mistakes, but I guess there's some comfort in knowing that most of admissions committees will not be reading over my writing samples as intensely as I do.

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I received an email from John Hopkins a day after sending out my application telling me they were missing one of my transcripts. I had forgotten I was technically a transfer student by one class (had taken gen psych in high school through a community college). So they had my masters and undergrad, but needed the community college transcripts as well... then I had to contact all the other schools too! Oops...

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I have two blunders. 

1) I wrote an email to the chair of the doctoral program titled: "pdf in social welfare - query". After I sent the email, I realised my mistake and had a minor panic attack. I sent him another email profusely apologising for my error! Phd, phd!!!!!!

2) I tried to be coy in my writing sample. I based my sample on a student population from "X university". I decided to change "X university" to "university in Y location". Anyway, turns out I didn't consistently make the change in my writing sample! I had X university and university in location Y littered across my writing sample. I had a good ice cream pity fest after I discovered it. 

rookie mistakes *shakes head*

 

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@wongjcz

Hello, I would like submit my application for a Pdf in social welfare.... as you can see, I've already received my .docx degree from Microsoft, and am currently working on getting my JPEG.

Rofl... you made my day. Sorry for poking at your misery. 

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Oh my goodness - the fact that this topic even exists makes me feel better haha. I was thinking I had to be the only person who could do something so stupid as to make a mistake on such an important application.

After receiving two rejections in the last week (tear), I thought I would look over my SOP. 

HUGE MISTAKE. In the SOP I sent to all of the schools, I used the word "lead" instead of "led". And then in two of the SOPs, I somehow managed to delete the "s" from "this" when I was uploading. So, now I feel like all my hundreds of hours of prep and hard work are being flushed down the toilet for what look like careless mistakes. I had sooo many people review my SOP and then made a few changes before submission that, of course, had grammatical mistakes. UGHHHHH.

Edited by stressed out sally
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