Ask the Expert

As you might have seen in our student newsletter, our resident expert and educational planner, Rey Perez, will be answering your most pressing academic advising and educational planning questions each week. You can submit your own question by emailing and putting “Ask the Expert” in the subject line. To kick off question is:

“What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?” Rey outlines the top 7 mistakes in his response below:


“Few decisions we make are more important in our lives than the career we chose and the university in which we chose to study. What mistakes should applicants not make when choosing a university and applying for admission?


  1. Not researching what universities to apply to or waiting until the last moment to do so. Applicants should research universities at least six to twelve months before the date when applications begin to be accepted. Research can include visiting, if possible, the universities you are interested in.
  2. Not finding out enough about the university you are interested in.

    - What fields of study are available?

    - How big is the university? Big enough to offer the academic programs and adequate facilities for your field of study? Too big?

    - How large are the classes? How easy will it be for you to meet with your professors?

    - How many of your science and technical classes include laboratories?

    - Does the university offer programs to study abroad?

    - Does the university offer job internships (also called co-op) in your field of study?

    - If you change your career plans will your new field of study be available at the same university? Or will you need to attend and apply to a different university?

  3. Not visiting the universities you are interested in.
    Most important, if you can do so, is to visit the campus of the universities you are interested in. Plan to do the following during your visit:

    - Meet with an admissions counselor to find out more about the university and the specifics of the application process. When you schedule your visit ask if it can include a tour of the campus.

    - Meet with a financial aid counselor and discuss what financial aid will be available to you and the specifics of applying for it.

    - Meet with an academic advisor in your field of study and get information about the courses required for your degree, and about internship and study abroad opportunities.

    - Meet other students, go the cafeteria or library and speak with students and get their point of view about the university.

    - Ask to sit in on a class in your field.

  4. Not submitting your admission/scholarship application at the earliest appropriate date.
    Many universities start their academic year in August, September, or October and begin accepting applications in the autumn of the year before, sometimes even earlier. Students should apply as early as appropriate for admission and scholarship consideration. Universities admit a limited number of applicants and award a limited number of scholarships. If you apply late there may not be an admission spot or a scholarship available for you, even if you have an outstanding record.
  5. Don’t apply to one or two universities only.
    It’s prudent to apply to a few universities, not just the university that is your first choice. If you apply to a handful of universities and aren’t admitted to your first choice you will already know what other universities admitted you and what your financial aid may be. Otherwise you would have to rush to submit a late application to other universities, possibly missing the deadline for admission and for financial aid.
  6. Not applying to a university because you think you won’t be accepted. It’s possible that some individual circumstances will count in your favor for admission to a university you really like even if your academic record, or part of your record, seems to be somewhat below the requirements for admission. Discuss your application with the university’s admissions office and see what your chances are. You won’t know if you’ll be admitted unless you ask. You should attend the best university that will admit you and that you can afford.
  7. Not applying to a university because you think you won’t be able to afford it. Apply to a university that you like and whose admission requirements you meet, even if the stated costs seem to be beyond your budget. Many universities award scholarships and other financial aid to help students pay the costs of tuition, books, laboratory supplies, and living expenses. You won’t know if you can afford to attend a given university until you know what scholarship and financial aid you qualify for. You may be able to afford it.


Following these suggestions will help you to make an informed choice about which university to attend, one of the most important decisions we make in our lives.”

Make sure to check back each Wednesday to see if Rey has answered your question!

Submit questions to: with the subject line “Ask the Expert”