Imagine you’re a college admissions officer facing a stack of college applications and tasked with selecting which students to accept. Wouldn’t applications that are incomplete, full of errors or just plain boring be the first to go into your rejection pile?

As you get ready to work on your applications, think back to that scenario and ask yourself: would I admit me?

In addition to highlighting your accomplishments, it’s important to show colleges “what’s in it for them.” In other words, your application should illustrate the contributions you’ll bring to their campus, and why you’ll excel as a student there.

Beyond just filling in the blanks and completing your application checklist, your most important job is to familiarize yourself with each college’s mission and show that you align with it.

The following tips will ensure that your application is error-free and tailored to each of your choice schools:

  • Read directions carefully. Then read them again. The easiest way for admissions officers to shorten the consideration pile is to toss applications that are incomplete or missing required information. In fact, you’d be surprised at how many students fail to follow instructions. Fill out yours correctly and you’re automatically ahead of the game.
  • More is not always better. If three letters of recommendation are required, don’t submit five. If an application asks for a 500-word essay, don’t write 1,000 words. Of course, you should aim to come close to the requested word count, so you don’t write too little. Rule of thumb: submit only what is asked for, and only give extra materials if the application says you’re allowed to do so.
  • Keep track of key dates. Missing deadlines is sure to mess up your admissions chances. With so many other students vying for acceptance, being late or leaving out documents will likely fast track you into the rejection pile.
  • Don’t rely on spell check. Using the wrong their, there or they’re is the perfect example of a devastating grammar mistake that spell check may not catch. Proofread your work carefully and try reading it aloud slowly to find any errors.
  • Ask someone to look over your application for you. Your eyes may begin to cross after a month of working on applications, so enlist someone with a good command of the English language to do a final review. They may be able to spot minor errors you might have missed and make suggestions about your overall tone and content.
  • Include pertinent details. For instance, when listing activities, indicate how long you participated and if you held a leadership position. If you made a significant impact, like leading the team to a state championship or earning a first place award for the debate team, be sure to mention it.
  • Use Print Preview before you submit your application online. This is your last-minute opportunity to see what your application will look like once you press Send. The change in format will also help you take a fresh look at your work — and give you an opportunity to fix mistakes and omissions you might not have otherwise caught.
  • Clean up your social media profiles. Once you’re happy with your application, take some time to check out your digital footprint. Admissions officers may do a quick search to see how you present yourself online. Don’t give them any reason to second-guess the fantastic application in front of them.

Remember, admissions officers only have a few minutes to decide if your application is strong enough to move you into the next round of consideration. By making sure that what you submit is a great representation of the awesome student you are, you can send off those applications with confidence.