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Articles / Applying to College / Will Early Decision Applicant Be Penalized for Missing Deadline by Two Minutes?

Will Early Decision Applicant Be Penalized for Missing Deadline by Two Minutes?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Nov. 17, 2010

Question: I've written you before, but this one takes the cake! My headstrong grandson is applying to a large private university (hopefully Early Decision) where he has a good chance of getting accepted. He has visited the school, had a good personal interview, and has had all his transcripts, scores, and recommendations sent up. His application was due by midnight last night ( Nov.15.) At 10 pm he phoned and e-mailed us and his older brother, a junior at a different college, his essay and his short answers to four questions. All were very good. We told him e-mail it right up, don't wait till the last minute, what if your computer crashes?? Of course, Mr."Know It All" didn't listen. When he finally e-mailed it, all of it went right through except the answer to Question # 4. His computer showed it was 12:02 am, Nov 16, when it was sent!! My daughter called the admissions office this morning and was told that one late question didn't sound so serious, but she should call back in a week to see if he is still an early applicant or if he's now an applicant for the April admissions. We're all furious at him!! Of course, he's not too happy either! He has only himself to blame! You must have run into this situation before, I'd really like to hear what happens in cases like this. Should he e-mail them and explain? Thank you very much.

I find it highly unlikely that your grandson would be bumped out of the Early Decision pool because one small part of the application arrived two minutes after deadline. However, I think it would be wise for him to send an email to the admission representative who oversees applicants from his high school. (He can phone the admission office to get the appropriate name and contact information, if he doesn't have it already.) He should keep his message brief. This is a busy time of year for admission folks and, besides, there really aren't a lot of excuses that "Mr. Know It All" can make since the problem lies in the fact that he waited too long to submit his application. (I'd warned you the last time I wrote you to be wary of 11th-hour technical glitches.) So all he really should say is that he had some technical problems with his submission that resulted in one part of the application arriving just minutes in arrears of the deadline. He could add something "cute" like, "I hope I will still be reviewed in the Early Decision pool, and, if admitted, I will endeavor to never be late for ANYTHING again!"

Please note that it is your grandson's responsibility to make this follow-up contact. If it comes from a parent (or grandparent) it could work against him.

While I realize that the admissions process is confusing and stressful, it sounds as if your grandson has had quite a "village" superintending him, and I feel that this is a good time for him to dig himself out of his hole without additional familial intervention. He will be living on his own in nine more months so he needs to realize that his fate is in his own hands, and he could face problems worse than this one if he's not ready to take the reins.

(posted 11/17/2010)

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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