Preparing for College

11th Hour Angst

This past week, like many New Year's Eves in the past, brought out the blood-pressure-raising consequences of waiting until the last second to send college applications. Of course, human nature is the the Big Perp here.

This year was especially interesting for the last-second crowd. To use a phrase that I hate, there was a perfect storm of circumstances that caused global angst for those high school seniors and parents trying to pay and/or submit their Common Applications late on December 31 to the many schools that enforced a January 1 application submission deadline.

As always, the College Confidential discussion forum was at the center of the storm, documenting the misery. Here are some pertinent comments from a very interesting thread entitled "Thread for those who failed to submit their apps on time...

I failed to complete my stanford, upenn, and carnegie mellon apps, the last one because i couldnt upload my supplement essay to the common app for some reason.

I procrastinated way too much, I had plenty of time during the break to work on my essays but I chose not to until the last twenty four hours, and now I guess I'm paying the price for my laziness.


We encountered the same problem with Stanford. They didn't accept the Common App submission because of a problem with their payment system. We tried paying twice with a credit card and then submitted an online check, which allowed the Common App submission to go through to Stanford. It cost us $270!!! $90 x 3!!! It was a harrowing hour of trying to get the application submitted. Stanford is aware of the problem. They will refund us the extra $. There is another thread about this in the Stanford section. Look for the "Stanford Urgent" thread posted on December 31. I don't know if they will accept your application, even though it is due to some technical problem between Stanford and the Common App. I believe this is the discrepancy that created a problem for those 1000 applicants. It seems a bit mean spirited to me, especially since they are aware of the problem.


does anyone know for sure what some of these top ranked school's policy is for those who turned their apps in late...because it seems like people are guessing that they will not accept them or they don't care if its a few minutes late...but does anyone know of people in the past who have turned them in late and got in or something for sure?

also, i know someone has asked this, but for those that DON'T accept late, does it just not "download" or other words if it says downloaded does that mean they'll consider it or no?

and also, if they don't accept it, do they let you knwo its because you were late, or do they just pretend to consider it and flat out reject you....?


I applied to Colby a few hours after the deadline because i couldn't upload my essays, and it took me a long time to figure out how to find an alternate way. if it hadn't been for that, my app would have gotten in on time. the funny thing was, i made completely sure that all the requirements that the common app gave for the documents to be uploaded were met. Eventually, i had to download adobe acrobat and adobe flash player, with a slow, dialup connection. i wrote the office of admission giving an explanation, but i don't know if they will be sympathetic, seeing as if i had started earlier, i could have figured out the problem days before hand.

Anyway, all i want to know is if my application will still be considered equally, be set to higher standards, or if i am basically screwed. Please tell me that it doesn't matter that much.


Last year, about 1000 applicants were never considered by Stanford because when they submitted a few seconds or minutes too late. So Stanford is probably a no-go. Try to work on CMU and UPenn though.


There are currently 90 posts on that thread. The above sampling merely sets the tone of those who waited--for whatever reason--to the last second (and beyond) to submit their applications.

Why so many problems this year? Well, my theory involves the payment mechanism and the calendar. That perfect storm had the following components:

I suspect that this problem wasn't anticipated by the colleges. Further, I suspect that the problem was the result of this coincidence of events:

1. New Year's Day was on a Friday.

2. There was a long holiday weekend attached to New Year's Day.

3. The Net Pay system wouldn't process payments until Monday, January 4.

4. The schools' application deadline was January 1.

5. (and possibly) There was the usual last-second crush of many thousands trying to pay and submit applications.

Servers get overloaded. Systems crash. Misery ensues.

Question: What's a poor applicant to do?

Answer: Don't wait until the last second to send your applications!

If ever there was an occasion for a huge "DUH!" . . . this is it.


Don't forget to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.