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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Does the early bird get the worm? Or a nicer worm? Or a faster worm?

When I was a wee little junior in high school, I practiced calling schools to inquire about tour times. I thought, for some reason, that schools would take note of how polite I was on the phone. Surely, the colleges had computers like the 911 operators did, ones that identified the number of the caller immediately and tied the number to an applicant's file. Surely, my manners would get me brownie points! Similarly, when it came time to fill out my applications, I sat tensely over my father's Smith Corona typewriter, convinced that typing my applications perfectly would win the admission officers' favor.

Oh, how silly I was!

We don't read into how you apply, when you apply, and how meticulous you are about positioning staples, mailing labels and stamps. If you submit an application for Regular Decision today, we'll read it just as we'd read an application that's submitted at 11:59 PM on deadline day.

Side story: At my last institution, we took an informal poll at a meeting of first year students, asking when people submitted their online applications. The vast majority hit submit between 11 PM and midnight on deadline day. The sitting student government president (an upperclassmen present at the meeting) sheepishly volunteered the information that he had submitted his application one hour late (we left the system open for a little longer).

So, the lesson of the day is: submit your application when you're confident that it's complete. We don't read into when you apply. We don't even see a date stamp on the application when we read it.

NOW, I will say that if you call the admission office about your application, chances are we'll take notes during the conversation and add them to your file. If you email us, we'll often print out the email and file it as well. It helps us remember conversations (since we get a lot of calls, especially around decision time) and gives colleagues something to go on if you talk to different deans over time. More on calling the office about you application in a future post...