This time of year a bunch of other admission blogs (and by that I mean the less entertaining blogs that focus primarily on their own institutions and that OF COURSE are far inferior to this one) whine and cry a lot about the volume of mail colleges receive. This is anticipation of the whining and crying from applicants and high schools about the volume of mail colleges seem to lose. This has intensified in the past few years because:
1) students are applying to more schools than ever before
2) those same stressed students are sending more supporting materials than ever before (although there is no evidence that this will help them get admitted)
3) admissions offices don’t get more staff just because you send more applications and application materials
4) most students now apply online. In the old days dinosaurs roamed the earth and, when not avoiding being eaten by a T-rex, we received these cute application bundles with most of your application materials. Yes, not all the time, but often. With online applications, all the paper comes in at a different time than the application.
More applications + plus more application materials + no more staff + less matching = lots of chaos.
Then, just for fun, add that most colleges don’t use social security numbers, so we have to hope that the name on your application, transcript, and any other materials, are all spelled just the same. And, of course, every now and then paper does get lost – not just by the post office, but by the campus mail room, the admissions mail room, etc etc.
Then, to make things even more exciting, we send out notices to let you know things are missing. Even better, we let you see that online. Of course, we’re still opening thousands of envelopes when you see that and make your desperate call to your high school counselor who, unable to shut you up, agrees to send another transcript. As a result, we often we receive two or three copies of each document, further slowing the process.
So what can you do to minimize the impact of the chaos? A few tips:
1) get your online application submitted BEFORE you send any supporting materials.
2) if the college to which you are applying gives you a student number, put it on everything you send them. If you can, get your high school to put it on your transcript (they won’t but give it a try).
3) Make sure the name your high school has on your transcript, the name you gave the testing service, and the name you applied under are the same. If not, don’t panic – just call the institution to which you applied and give them all your aliases. That sounds very spy-like and much cooler than letting them know you failed to spell your own name correctly when you took the SAT.
3) Keep your own copies of EVERYTHING you send, and try to have some record of when you sent it. Don’t resend things just because something is missing – give time for processing. If you’re worried, send an email to let your counselor know when you sent it and that you have a copy if needed. KEEP A RECORD of that message so you can hold it over our (I mean their) heads later.
4) don’t blame your high school counselor. They just call and complain to the college about their shoddy mail room, and then the Dean gets cranky and takes it out on you. Other deans. I’m way too nice for that. Probably. But best not to risk it.
If you’ve done things right and for some reason things are delayed, just stay in touch with the admission office. I’ve yet to find an office that won’t work with you as long as you’ve made a good faith effort to stay in touch and complete your file.
Tomorrow I’ll try to post some of the other blogs that rant about this stuff. Some of its pretty funny. My favorites are when they take pictures of their mail room to show you how much mail they get, then cry boo hoo. Like you care – you just want YOUR DECISION. Hang in there, it’s coming. And since you only want to come to Mason (of course) you can stop worrying about those other decisions. See – doesn’t that feel better?
Be seeing you.
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