Preparing for College

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

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)