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.

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  • Rahul


    I have a problem regarding my toefl registration. My dob is 02/05/1989 but when my dad registered it for me he made a mistake and registered it as 02/04/1989 due to a drop down box mishap. Just before my toefl I had a major accident and distracted by pain I failed to pay too much attention to this detail just before starting the test. Now it has come to my notice when I checked my online account and ets is not permitting me to change this detail. What kind of a problem will this pose? Will the universities reject the score report outright? Will I have to take toefl again? Or can I just get an affidavit from a notary

    Explaining tat it's a clerical error attached with a copy of my birth cerificqte and other govt Id proofs like voter id, dl, passport, etc. My toefl score was 110 tats y unless der s absolutely no option I do not wanna write it again! Can you pl help me regarding this query of mine

  • nita

    I am looking to apply for my Doctoral programme to US universities. My undergraduate college is an autonomous college in India. When I enquired about the transcripts, they informed me that the Vice Principal will be signing it and thats the usual procedure. However, I am given to understand that the registrar is needed to attest the mark sheets. The position of registrar does not exist in the college. Please guide me as to how I should go about this issue.

  • Hari Krishna

    Great job sir but I am having a few doubts.
    I want to pursue my under graduation so I just am confused about what are SOP and recommendation letters? Are they that necessary? From where do I have to take them? Do I need to take them from my 10th class teachers also? Please reply me quickly…

    • HSB

      Check the articles under LOR and SOP category.

      • Hari Krishna

        Thank you sir,

        I've an another doubt regarding in-state taxes and out-state taxes.

        What are that? And I've applied for New Jersey Institute Of Technology. So in order to stay in New Jersey, do i need to take some kind of test?

  • Dhanya

    Hello , is my no.1 source for all the information i need about applying to US universities.The site provides all the required information.

    I have a few specific questions
    1)While sending copies through postal mail,should we include application form as well,if we have already filled up the online application form?
    2)If we have received certificates of internships from reputed companies,should we send a photocopy of this?Does this photocopy need any further attestation?
    3) Plz could you list the documents again to be sent through postal mail to clear all doubts,considering we apply online.
    4)Which courier service is better?How long will it take to reach the destination?
    5)I am taking GRE on Nov 3rd,2010.By when should i be ready with all the documents for postal mailing ,deadline of most of the universities i have considered is in Dec 2010.

  • abhay pratap singh

    I saw in the profile of the most of the USA universities that they need official transcripts to be sent directly by the last institution to their admission office in order to apply for phd positions.
    My last institute is not sending my transcripts directly but they are able to provide the sealed transcripts saying me to sent it by myself. So if am sending the sealed and packed transcripts, will they accept it or not….
    Thanks if someone has idea about that……

  • mcneil allan butler

    sir,the name on my transcript is Allan Butler and the name on my passport is McNeil Allan Butler.i have worn an affidavit.which name should i use to register my GRE exams if i want to get admitted with out the problem of family name is on both.

  • sandeep

    in my passport my given name is "sandeep kumar" and surname is "behera".

    but during gre reg i filled up my first name as:"sandeep" and last name as "behera". i did not fill kumar as middle name was not asked.

    what should i now?

  • anubandh

    hello sir, like many others i also have this problem that i have always used my first name i.e. Anubandh, and only this name appears in my marksheet of class 10th, 12th, graduate and in my passport. so will it be a problem for me then?

  • Mitesh Patel

    Nice article. I received lot of resumes having such mistakes. Good efforts.

  • mamta

    Hi my name is mamta bharti,i have to fill up an inter application to the US and they require first name, middle name and last name,should I fill bharti as middle name or last name?

    my passport has the name as mamta bharti only.

    Looking for reply.


  • Anu

    I have filled in a wrong start date for one of my employment in my resume, but have filled in the correct start date in the Employment History of the online MBA application form. I know this a big blunder. As per the application policy of the school, no changes can be made after the application form has been submitted online. How can I rectify this now? Shall I write a mail to the school or should I inform the admissions committee if called for an interview, at the time of the interview? Please help.

  • Anu

    I have made a mistake in updating one of the employment start year in my resume, but have updated the correct year in the work history column of the online mba application form. I have already submitted my application. The School policy says that once the application is submitted no changes can be made and the school will not accept any additional document via email. I know this is a big blunder. How can I rectify the mistake now? Can I inform the admissions committee of the error if called for an interview? Please help.

  • Bahul

    hello sir,

    My First name is Bahul and in all my document regarding academics and all other personal documents(Passport) i have only my first name ie. Bahul….

    I dont have my middle name and lastname in any of the documents,but i have to fill online application for GRE, and the last name is must

    So, what should i do now, please guide me .Thankyou!

  • Folake bramm

    This has really been passport expired a week ago and my gre exam is in a u suggest i renew it or i get other supporting documents

    • HSB

      @Folake – Check with the exam center or ETS for identification requirements.

  • Janmeet

    hi, i am Janmeet Singh Saini and i have given the GRE with the name 'Janmeet Singh' as my passport bear this name only not my surname or family name. But now i have added Saini as my surname to passport and i am gonna give TOEFL with 'Janmeet Singh Saini' as my full name.Can i get my name changed in the GRE test scores from ETS now. I haven't sent my scores to any of the institute till now as i wish to pursue my studies abroad from august 2010. My educational qualifications also bear my name as 'Janmeet Singh' only.. . Pls also suggest how can i inform various institues about my name diffrence in my educational qualifications?


    • HSB

      You are in tough spot here. It's not possible for ETS to change your name. You will have to find out from schools you plan to apply, if thats acceptable and then apply.

  • b.kamaleshan

    i had got the uncondition letter from u.k colleges ,name and address are ok but the date of the birth is wrong is there any problem in the u.k visa

  • priya


    can anyonehelp me in calculating my GPA … its urgent…

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  • Shailesh

    Very Informative. I was just giving my first application and went through the same feeling as mentioned in the article.

    I have one query. What do i do in case the place provided is not enough to complete the input. This happened with the place to provide my official email id.

  • Raghuram

    @@ Lakshmi I have replied to your comment here

  • laxmi

    hai, my name is Laxmi subhasini my initial is H, in all my marksheets it apeears as H Laxmi subhashini and in my passport it is Laxmi Subhasini Rupesh here rupesh is my last name , and the same is in my gmat and toefl. while ffilling application can I use laxmi subhasini as my first name and rupesh as last name, because i dont want to use subhasini as middle name.pls suggest

  • Yash

    for resume/sop its better to upload a pdf !

  • Raghuram

    @ Yash

    It's better to upload Txt file or Word Document.

  • sudhanshu

    hi….gr8 work…i have only my first name in my certificates of 10th, 12th and my degree but i have added my last name in the passport. i have registered for GRE and TOEFL with my first and last name, but he problem is in my certificates i have only my first name….so wil that work???

  • Life Strikes

    @ MohanMake sure you correct the name when you appear for GRE n TOEFL exam. If you dont get the name right, universities cannot match your score with the records they get from ETS. Its my understanding that, you can change your name before the exam at ETS testing center.Good Luck.

  • Anonymous

    gr8 work dude . i've been troubled with one doubt.. ive registered for toefl and gre with only one last name and in my pass port my name is combined with two last names like, m.p.ram in transcripts mohan pankaj ram in pass port and ive registered with mohan ramin gre registration and pankaj is my father's namewill there would be any problem please clear my query iam tensedabout it.

  • Gurjinder Singh

    nice job done dude, but m a bit doubtful for the last name query..
    like my name is gurjinder singh. In my passport last name field is empty..
    So when i registered for GRE or toefl i wrote singh as my last name and gurjinder as my first name..

    will that work for application process too??

  • bindu

    really great work. i am very happy to see your articles and it is helping me alot.Thank u