But these mistakes can HURT.
Year after year, we see these mistakes after the fact, and they’re ugly. We really hope none of you make them. (Or made them… given how this post was supposed to go up YESTERDAY… talk about mistakes. Whoops.)
The first two can be cause for outright rejection. The last one might get you rejected in the end, too, for a different reason.
1. Name the wrong school. We’ve said it before, and you hear about it all the time, and nobody believes it. But yes, people write essays all the time saying they want to go to Booth… when it’s an essay for Kellogg. Copy-and-paste is not your friend, friend. One reason this happens is because of the multiple names some schools have — Chicago Booth, Duke Fuqua, Berkeley Haas, etc. You may remember to do the copy/paste on Booth but forget to do it on Chicago. Or you could just accidentally tell those Kellogg people how much you want to go to school in New York City.
The ones that’r easiest to mess up?
Sloan ←→ Stern.
Those silly little five-letter names that go with three-letter acronyms (MIT/NYU).
If you have re-used any element of one school’s essay in another, you’d best be careful. You’re liable to have shot yourself in the foot if you submit an essay with this mistake lurking in it.
2. Show revision marks. People, if you’re getting others to help you with your essays, then PLEASE do not forget to accept all changes before you submit the darn essay!!! (We’re pretty sure that this is the reason one of our most awesomest clients got rejected from Stanford this year…. they submitted their drafts with revision marks showing. And you know how Stanford feels about people getting too much input into their apps.)
Or, just convert all your essays to PDF if the school allows it.
3. Submit late. Some schools have midday cutoff times on deadline day. Others are very lenient, with 11:59pm deadlines. In all cases, the deadline time is local (i.e., in the timezone the school is located in). KNOW THE DEADLINE TIME IF YOU’RE GONNA BE CUTTING IT THAT SHORT. We truly hope you’ll submit a few days ahead of deadline, but if you’re pushing it up to the last minute, be sure you know what the “last minute” truly is.
If your app is submitted late, some schools will be generous and will still consider you in the Round 2 pool — but others may push you to the next round. And if the next round is the last one, you might be totally screwed.
If you realize the day-of that you clicked Submit after the official deadline, we suggest you take a deep breath, then email the school — just ONCE. Or, if it’s still business hours in the school’s time zone, call them. Do not send multiple panicked emails. Do not make a flurry of phone calls. Email ONCE, be EXCEPTIONALLY polite, write in full sentences (and spellcheck!!). Include your full name and your application ID number, explain what happened, and ask if they can please still consider you for the round you had intended to apply to.
Note that for most schools, if the recommendations come in after the deadline, you’ll still be considered for the intended round — you should not email/call in this situation. Instead, email/call your recommender and light a fire under them so they submit the darn thing!! But don’t call the school about it. As long as you submitted the actually app in time, and everything else is complete, in almost every case, they’ll accommodate you for the current round and match up the recommendations when they come in.
Moral of this story? There are two:
1. Sweat the details.
2. Don’t submit at the last minute
(If you already submitted, and you noticed that you made one of these egregious errors… well, there’s still time to pull together another app for another Round 2 deadline!!!)