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Articles / Admissions / Three FAQs to Know As Your Deadline Nears

Dec. 2, 2020

Three FAQs to Know As Your Deadline Nears

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As college application deadlines approach, you might encounter some last-minute questions. Check out the following queries that College Confidential has received over the past week, and find out the answers to each of them.

When Is the Actual Application Deadline?

There is a lot of confusion among students over when colleges actually require documentation, which it is why to not wait until the last minute to submit, if possible. The rule of thumb is that an electronic application is due at midnight on the deadline and a mailed application needs to be postmarked on the date of the deadline at the latest.

"At Gonzaga University, we require the student to meet the deadline, which is midnight of the deadline day in their specific time zone. That is the deadline for the student application, and the schools have a grace period to submit documents like transcripts and recommendations; test scores may also come in after the deadline," explains Erin Hays, director of undergraduate admission at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.

Of course, sending in your college applications well before the deadline is best to avoid stress, and always check whether your target schools also allow a grace period for additional documentation, because this can vary by school.

"I tell my students to submit a week before the deadline at the latest — then they won't have to worry about which time zone 'counts' and what actual deadline they must hit," says Laurie Kopp Weingarten, co-founder and director of One-Stop College Counseling in Marlboro, N.J. "And they will not need to stress about the application portal crashing, which often happens as all the last-minute procrastinators try to submit at once,"

Many students use the Common Application and that deadline is 11:59 p.m. in the applicant's time zone. So, if you are in Pacific Time, note that you have up until a minute before midnight to submit using the Common App. But confusion often persists.

"The time stamp on the Common Application is reported in US Eastern Standard Time, so students who make the deadline their time zone (and will be considered by colleges to have submitted by the deadline) often panic when they see the time stamp that the common app provided in Eastern Time," Weingarten explains. "They assume that they misunderstood the deadline, and now they missed it! There is a lot of stress and anxiety around submitting applications, so again, just submit early!"

What Should I Do After Submitting My Application?

After you submit your application, you'll start wondering what the next steps are, and colleges are usually pretty good about sharing that information -- the key is to check your email and your application portals often, says Jodi Siegel, a college admissions consultant with College Bound in Potomac, Md., and former admissions officer at George Washington University.

"Read the pop-up box that comes up after you submit, and it will tell you what happens next, as well as important factors to be aware of. In addition, every time you submit anything, there should be an email confirmation and you have to check that. Always check your application portal and your emails frequently to see if schools need anything from you or if any information is missing." If documentation does turn out to be missing, don't hesitate to address it immediately, she advises.

What If I Realize My Application Had An Error In It?

Sometimes even the most careful students discover an error after an application has been submitted. But don't worry, it happens and usually it is just a matter of contacting the admissions office to correct it.

"Students should try their best to avoid this, and check and double-check and double-check once more, but, depending on how important the error and correction would be, students should contact admissions acknowledging an important error and submitting a correction," advises Weingarten. "In almost all cases, the admission officers have notified the student that they have made the correction. Most admission officers are nice and they understand the stress the student is facing in this process."

If you need assistance handling your application correction, consult your counselor to help advise you through the process.

Written by

Elena Loveland

Elena Loveland has been a writer and editor covering higher education and college admissions for 18 years and is the author of Creative Colleges: Finding the Best Programs for Aspiring Artists, Designers, Dancers, Musicians, Writers, and More. Creative Colleges has earned recognition in the College Bound Teen, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Gate and U.S. News and World Report's Annual College Guide. Loveland has spoken at the Independent Educational Consultants Association and the University of the Arts, as well as several high schools about college admission for creative students. She has worked for the National Association for College Admission Counseling as editor of the Journal of College Admission and for NAFSA: Association of International Educators as editor-in-chief of International Educator magazine. As an independent journalist, Loveland.s work has appeared in numerous publications such as American Careers, Dance Teacher, Hispanic Outlook on Higher Education, International Educator, Pointe, Teen Vogue, University Business and the U.S. News & World Report's Annual College Guide, among several others. She has a master's degree in English and has been an adjunct instructor at three higher education institutions. Loveland provides private college admissions consulting to families upon request. She lives in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

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