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Almost every graduate school have online application along with paper application format. Sometimes it takes long time to fill out online application and some terms and convention followed in U.S. will look different and you it will take some time to get used to it. As, you apply for more schools, you will understand, they will all follow almost similar style, format and arrangement.

I have listed some of the common mistake students make while filling out online or paper format graduate school application.

Always the first application you fill, submit and send documents will be good learning experience. I have seen some people ask so many questions for each field, before they type or write. And that’s agreeable, because we can see our future career in front of us while filling the application. Hope the following list of mistake will give you general overview on what to expect while submitting graduate school application.

Student ID or SSN

If you are an International Student, and you haven’t submitted online graduate school application, you will not have Student ID. Social Security Number will be issued only after you come to U.S. ( how to get SSN ). If you have submitted online application, some form of ID will be assigned to you. Make sure you include the ID number in all pages while sending hard copy of the documents.

For example your Reference number or Student ID after you submit online application is : 444-023-5555. Make sure you include that ID at the top of the page in SOP, Recommendation Letter cover, Resume, and other documents you send with the application package.

Type Name or Print Name

Most of the students have hard time to understand what do here when they come across Print Name or Type Name in paper based application. Those 2 are equivalent to ‘Write your name here’. If its online application, type your name in the space provided.

Missing Last Name

I have seen 2 student so far asking me what shall I do, If I don’t have Last Name in the passport. It’s simple, universities will not give admission. They might give admission, but cannot issue I-20. You cannot survive here without having Last Name. So, I strongly suggest to get your name changed in the Passport to include Last name even before booking dates for GRE and TOEFL exam.

Last Name is also said as Family Name.

Given Name is your First Name.

I read about a student who applied for a graduate school in Oregon and he was not given admission since he didn’t have Last Name.

Date Of Birth

You have to write in the following format MONTH/DAY/YEAR. Different places in the world follow different formats. but in U.S. Make sure you fill in Month/day/Year format.

Transcript (Name)

You will be asked what other different names used in the documents that will be submitted. In India we use Initials before our First Name. Your name could be as per in passport.

  • Given Name: John
  • Last Name : Young

But, documents in India will have Y.John If that’s the case, make sure you write that name under the field asking for Alternate Names that would appear in the documents ( Transcripts, Recommendation Letter, SOP, Resume,..)

How to attach Resume

When attaching the Resume, it would be always better to upload the well formatted ASCII format resume ( *.txt file ). If you attach the resume in word document, it will look distorted when schools downloads the resume. Here’s a link on how to convert word file to ASCII file.

Wrong Email Address

I have few student ask me, saying they gave wrong email address while submitting the application. Make sure, you give the right email address. Try to use professional looking email address.


How to Paste Documents while Submitting Online aapplication

Some online applications will ask you to paste SOP, Resume into free form fill text box, as I said in How to Attach Resume, don’t past the content from Word document file directly into the form fill. Instead convert into Ascii file or atleast copy DOC -> TXT File -> Past into Application.

Recommendation Letter : Email and Hard copy

Even though you have submitted SOP, Recommendation letters online, its always better to send the hard copy of all the documents you had submitted online. So,that they will have formatted copy of your documents. If you had some certifications images in the resume, those will not go through very well when submitting the document online. Again, I strongly suggest to send all the hard copy of the documents.

Student Signature

If you have to sign any of the documents, make sure you use blue color ball pen. So, if in case the paper gets wet, your signature will stay on put. Reason for blue color is, if you make photocopy of the documents, its hard to find if the documents is original copy or copy of original document. So, using blue pen will eliminate that difference.