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Articles / Applying to College / My Applications Are Complete But My Counselor is Slacking!

My Applications Are Complete But My Counselor is Slacking!

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Sept. 16, 2017

Question: I am a HS Senior. Every presentation in 2016 & 2017 our Guidance Counselor presents and documents that we should apply as early as possible. Common App was available Aug 1st 2017, as well as most of my target schools. Unfortunately, even though I completed my part... the Colleges will NOT review the Application UNTIL Guidance sends Transcripts and Reference Letters and all they say now is 'we will meet the schools deadlines.'

Yes, it's normal. The go-getter students often submit applications before school has even started in the fall, and guidance counselors lag behind because they are usually meeting many needs ... not just those of the seniors .... and school start-up time is an especially hectic period for them.


Make sure that you have done everything you're supposed to do. This means not only submitting your portion of the applications but also completing and returning the "brag sheet" or any questionnaire that the counselor gave you or your parents to fill out. (And if your school doesn't require a brag sheet, you may want to put one together anyway. See these "Ask the Dean" columns for more suggestions: http://www.collegeconfidential.com/college-reference-time-guidance-counselor-doesnt-even-know-name/ and http://www.collegeconfidential.com/dean/making-best-use-high-school-counselor/ )

At many of the colleges that have a fixed deadline (e.g., Nov. 1 or 15 for Early applicants; Jan. 1 or 15 for Regular Decision) it's likely that no one on the admission staff will so much as glance at the applications until those deadlines have passed. So it doesn't matter in the least if your guidance office submits their documents long after you've completed yours. But for colleges that offer some version of "Rolling Admission" (i.e, they evaluate applications as they come in), then earlier is almost always better. (Exception: Students whose grades were once low but have started to rise might want to wait to get even better senior grades before applying.)

You should consider Oct. 15 as a reasonable deadline for your counselor to submit materials, but it's fine to send your counselor a gentle reminder on Oct. 1 if nothing's been sent by then. If your college list is very long (maybe too long?), you should give your counselor a priority ranking. That is, let him or her know which of the schools are ready to evaluate your application now and need to get your credentials from the high school ASAP.

But, for Rolling Admission colleges, if everything is shipped out by Oct. 15, you have nothing to worry about ... except maybe getting in. ;-)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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