It’s not too late yet to push that button, and it’s definitely not too early to click “submit” on your Common Application file. With the Regular Decision application deadline of January 1st (11:59pm) just around the corner, you should be wrapping up your college application, checking it twice and preparing to send it off, leaving yourself plenty of time for any missed documents, forgotten information or technical errors.
Each year, there are an inordinate number of students who seem to think it’s okay to put off submitting their college applications until the very last minute, but these students are taking huge risks when they do this. This application will determine how you will spend the next four or more years, and ultimately, the rest of your life, so it needs to be taken very seriously. It goes without saying that almost all graduating high school students feel pretty overwhelmed around this time of the year what with the upcoming holidays and trying to get good grades, maintain a social life and figure out what they want to do once they graduate. But, somewhere in the stress of daily life, it pays to methodically organize the myriad pieces of your college application, check, check and double check that everything is in order, then submit it well before the January 1st deadline.
Studentadvisor.com writes on their blog, “It is not urban legend that websites slow down and servers crash. This happens every year with multiple colleges. Submit early to avoid the stress of seeing your application timeout each time you try to submit.”1 So many students attempt to submit their application at the last minute that the servers actually crash and they miss the deadline.
Another potential technical nightmare can be caused by winter or wind storms taking down lines and shutting down the Internet completely. It’s been known to happen before and it can happen again. In fact, any number of technical glitches could occur when sending off your application, and if you’ve left it till the eleventh hour, you simply cannot try later. You get the picture.
Anyone applying for college knows there are endless strands to tie together in the application process. The more schools you apply to, the more paperwork there is to organize. Good organization takes time. By starting early, you allow yourself enough time to complete your part of the application and make sure everybody else has done their bit. Remember, high school teachers and counselors are very busy people, helping hundreds of students get off to college, but they are also human and may sometimes accidentally neglect to send off a letter of recommendation, transcripts, etc. Also, they go on vacation, just like you, and might be taking a break right before your deadline. Allow yourself enough time to chase up any missing or erroneous documents.
Let’s face it – we all make mistakes every now and then. The college application, however, is not the place for errors. From the minute you start the application process, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY. Then re-read them. Make sure you complete every form accurately, stick to the word limits on the essays, and get the right people to provide the right documents. Check your spelling and maybe even ask someone else to check it again. Do NOT rely on Word’s automatic Spell Check! Typos happen to the best of us, so proofread carefully to make sure you have really written everything just as you meant to. If you are applying to more than one school you may have cut and pasted some of your information. This can lead to some denials if you don’t go over each application individually to ensure you are sending the correct information to each specific school. A kiss of death is to send to say to Michigan that you would love to attend Virginia, for example. This almost happened to me, when applying for MBA admissions. However, I was cautious and caught the error in time to not only correct it but also comply with the deadline. Make 100% sure the worst case scenario doesn’t happen to you!
January 1st may feel far away, but it is rapidly approaching, so today would be a good time to start wrapping up your college application. Make a tick list and approach it systematically. Your application is your first introduction to the school you hope to attend, so you want to make a good impression. Spelling errors, incomplete or incorrect information and tardiness do not look good in the world of academia and can seriously jeopardize your chances of getting into a college, let alone a good college. Every year hundreds of students miss the Common Application deadline because they left it till the last minute.
If you get busy now, you still have time to submit your application on time, and conquer the intricate admissions process!
1 Mody, Purvi S. “The 6 Worst College Application Mistakes.” Studentadvisor.com (22/11/11)