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Monday, January 11, 2010

Replies to some comments

A few comments came in over the weekend that I thought I would address in a post so all could see.

First up, a question about essays:
Call me Curious said...

We appreciate all of the reading you are doing this month. While I don't envy you, I am curious about what you do get to read. What is the most popular book or work of art chosen for that essay question? What other essay question do most applicants choose to answer? Do more applicants secretly like something they pretend to hate or secretly hate something they pretend to love? Have you noticed a different trend this year over last?

At times, I'll mention a trend here and there when it comes to essay topics. However, there are some out there who think that mentioning a particular book will send applicants who used that book as a topic into a panic, convinced they are doomed because their choice wasn't unique. So, let's get to the bottom of that. Applicants, if I tell you that writing about Dave Matthews Band songs was common and you wrote about a Dave Matthews Band song, would you be upset? I'm not saying DMB topics are common, that's just a relatively safe example I'm using.

Second up, a few questions/comments about deadlines:
Anonymous said...

What's with the SUNDAY, JANUARY 10 deadline instead of a work day? A recommendation came in for my son and we live in Charlottesville. We go over to Admission's office and it's buttoned up tight! We meet someone else who has a BAG of documents and couldn't get the on-line system to work. Turns out, HE is the GUIDANCE counselor for a local school! What he had in that bag I hate to imagine! Would that be everybody's transcripts, recommendations, etc. which would be the responsibility of the GUIDANCE COUNSELOR from a school and usually uploaded to the Common App? Ouch. We may have to go to our deaths knowing which school this just happened to! However, the school my children go to school at was unaware of the SUNDAY deadline on Thursday when I told them and though they only have a couple of apps each year from this private boarding school, they were certainly caught off guard. Even the Guidance Counselor told my husband that he just THOUGHT that January 10th was a Monday. So, what's up with the SUNDAY deadline for those that may have something to deliver? Or, is that point? Keep more away? :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot to mention, my husband found a fax number on the bottom of the page and faxed it and kept the receipt. Hopefully the recommendation that came in and coujldn't be sent UP to the kid's school to be up-loaded by the staff will make it where it is to go. It worried us that we didn't have any problem getting onto the fax machine. Shouldn't it have been a bit busier on Saturday the 9th of January with deadlines on sunday the 10th? I wouldn't want the job of reading all these apps, but it is probably very encouraging and up-lifting to read about young people's lives and knowing that they are probably some of the best in the world.... not too shabby a job after all I guess.

This is a long one and I'm hope I'm going to address all the issues here. If there are any outstanding questions, give our office a call during our normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM). While many of us work far beyond those hours at this time of year, we don't keep the full staff in the office beyond the normal 40 hour work week.

Out deadlines are generally on easy to remember dates. Before we went to the Common App, our deadline was always a moving target, which was confusing. We had to make the deadline a day when post offices were open. I remember one year when we had to move the deadline at the last minute due to the closing of post offices for a National Day of Mourning. Anyway, our deadline is now January 1st and applicants don't seem to have a problem hitting the submit button before 11:59 PM on that night. Teachers and guidance counselors get a few extra days. Most credentials are submitted late at night, regardless of the day of the week.

Obviously, some people aren't comfortable with the submission system and we are flexible about that. If there's a problem outside of normal business hours, we will work with people. If a recommendation can't be submitted electronically at the deadline, a teacher or school counselor should put it in the mail or fax it.

Back when I was in school, it was common to furnish a recommendation writer with a stamped, addressed envelope. If you don't think the person writing for you will use the online system, perhaps that's the best way to ensure the letter comes to us (and not back to you, which seems to have happened in the case above).

I don't think our fax line was busy yesterday because most teachers submit through the online Common App system or mail documents over the holidays. Faxed documents aren't so common these days.

Hope that helps! If you have more questions, feel free to post them in the comments.