Oct. 31, 2020
"The Dean" would bet the mortgage money that all of your "missing" materials are sitting safely in admission offices waiting to be entered into each college's computer system. But in the meantime, you're understandably worried. Of all of the many frustrating aspects of the admissions process, this is a particularly irksome (and recurring) problem. Colleges simply can't process admission documents as quickly as they arrive, and this inevitably leads to stress, just like yours right now.
Of course, there's always an outside (although unlikely) chance that some of your submissions did go astray. And you certainly don't want to find this out in several weeks when you don't receive an anticipated admissions verdict. So here's what you should do:
Wait until tomorrow, and then — if materials still seem to be missing — send a quick email to your regional admissions representative at each college that still shows your file as incomplete. (The regional rep is the staff member who oversees applicants from your high school. You can find the name and contact info on the school's website or by telephoning the admission office.) Also copy the email to the main admissions address. In this message, briefly explain that the deadline is upon you and that you have submitted all materials yet they're not all showing up on your portal. Ask if you should wait or resubmit.
This way, you are now "on the record" as having stayed on top of the deadline. And should any of your documents truly be lost in cyberspace, you won't be penalized if you need to resend.
Chances are good that you won't hear back from most of the colleges right away, but — in a week or so — all of those "Incomplete" warnings will be gone. If not, contact the college again (this time by telephone) to ask if it's time to resubmit the rec letters or transcript, payment, etc.
Because this is such a common scenario, The Dean is convinced that you won't have to do any of this follow-up in November. But, in the meantime, just keep refreshing those portals. The colleges will not be tracking this activity, so at least that's one thing you don't have to worry about!
Sally Rubenstone is a veteran of the college admissions process and is the co-author of three books covering admissions. She worked as a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years and has also served as an independent college counselor, in addition to working as a senior advisor at College Confidential since 2002. If you'd like to submit a question to The Dean please email us at email@example.com.