The Typo Typhoon

There are two types of typos: minor typos that even curmudgeon adcom members will overlook, and major typos that could be responsible for that dreaded ding.

Let's break this down even further.

There are two types of minor typos:

  1. You misspell a word or get tripped up in grammar. An honest slip of the finger could turn "change" into "chage," and you could review your essay a thousand times and still miss it. Or maybe you used a comma where a semicolon would have been better and neither you, nor your parents, nor your neighbor picked up on it while editing.
  2. Your error changes the meaning of your sentence or idea. Using the word "exorcized" instead of "exercised" or "threw" instead of "through."

In the category of major typos, however, there are certain cases where you may have cause for worry. These include:

  1. You have more than three minor mistakes. One missing comma can go unnoticed; three or four of them, however, will make you appear sloppy and careless. Several errors may lead your reader to conclude you don’t write well. This conclusion can hurt your candidacy.
  2. You recycled an essay from one school to another and forgot to change the school's name. This is a no-no, even if it occurs in only one instance. Adcoms can be rather relentless when it comes to this error, which usually results in a ding.

So what should you do if you hit SUBMIT and then find some mistakes in your application?

If you have one or two instances of minor typos, DON'T WORRY. Few adcoms (if any) will hold such a minor mistake against you…that is, if they even notice it themselves.

If you find one or more of the major typos in your application after you hit SUBMIT, you can try and speak with someone at the school and explain how you accidentally submitted the wrong draft of your essays. You may just get lucky and have someone agree to let you submit the corrected draft.

A typhoon? Okay—maybe that's an exaggeration, but in some cases, a typo really can make it or break your chances of getting into your dream school, which is why you need to be extra careful when editing your final drafts.

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