It would really suck if you’re still getting your application done at 11:15pm when the deadline is at midnight and you only then discover that the school has a hard cut-off for the word limit on their field that you’re trying to paste your essay into, and your essay is too long, and suddenly you need to pare back when you thought the essay was finished. Investigate things like this early by going through the application in detail.
And oh yeah: Know the school’s submit deadline time! Not all of them are midnight. Some are 5pm in their timezone; some are noon. They are very variable, as you may have already discovered with the apps you’ve gotten in to this point. There is no standard. What happens if you miss your deadline varies by school policy:
- For some of them, an app submitted late gets moved to the next round (ouch!).
- Other schools are more lenient and will still consider an app for the round if it comes in a bit past the submit time.
Pro Tip: If you miss a submit time, please do your best to contain yourself before you reach out to the school. It doesn’t matter WHY you missed it. It doesn’t matter if you suddenly have tech issues. It doesn’t matter if the school’s server appears to be down. A panicking email from an applicant who is late is not a good look.
If you find yourself at that stress-moment where the clock is ticking and you’re hitting some kind of error or problem: Do your best to compose yourself. Take some deep breaths, and get a grip. Freaking out is only going to make it worse. Slow yourself down to work through the problem. Do NOT send an email to the school in this state!
You don’t want to sound like you’re blaming the school for the problem. Even if it turns out to be their fault, blaming them is not going to help you right now — especially since the blame lies with you for not trying to get your app submitted earlier, like yesterday, or last week. Ya know?
Once you get the app submitted, then go take a walk around the block to collect yourself. Then, when your stress level has subsided and you’re not operating off adrenaline, compose a very short email to the admissions office. Tell them you’re sorry for waiting to the last minute (do not make excuses! there is no excuse for this!). If true, tell them you ran into technical problems when submitting your app (do not blame them for this! it does not matter who is at fault!). Ask them if they would please be able to consider your app for the round you were trying to submit for (do not make this into a statement; don’t say “I want to be considered for Round 1” but instead say something like, “If possible, would you please consider my application for Round 1?”).
This email communication is where you get to demonstrate your emotional intelligence.
We’ve heard of applicants who were rejected solely based on how they handled themselves in this situation.
Don’t be that guy (or gal). Be considerate. Recognize that no matter what type of problem that occurred, blaming the school or being passive aggressive in saying stuff like “There must have been a problem with your servers” is not going to endear you to the admissions team.
We know none of YOU would ever let yourself get in this situation — but it can certainly happen unintentionally, such as with a school whose deadline is middle of the day when you weren’t expecting that.
Some schools will be lenient; a few schools even try to have policies that are kind and person-centered. But you can’t count on it. If you find yourself in a bad spot then we’re certain it’ll be a learning experience for you (doh!), and please try to manage the emotions involved effectively so your reaction doesn’t make a tough situation worse for you.
Hopefully this post is useless to all of you because you had apps tucked safely away several days before deadlines showed up, and you’re sitting here feeling smug and thinking, “Wow, that would suck for those people who submitted things late like that.”
If you’re the “those people” for whom it’s sucking, then it’s not necessarily the end of the road. How you respond to the situation often has greater impact than the situation itself, and that’s often the case with this issue of deadlines.
To all who have gotten their apps put to bed: Congratulations, and good luck! We can’t wait to hear how it goes for you as the rest of the season plays out!
You may also be interested in:
- How to email the admissions office
- 3 Last-Minute Mistakes that Will Make You Feel Totally Stupid (from waaaaay back in the ‘snarchives but apparently perennial!)
Tell us what you think.