The college application process has a lot of moving parts. Although most schools accept the Common App these days, which should make the process more uniform, each school still has its own individual approach to the application process. Deadlines vary. Standardized testing requirements differ. What one college wants for financial aid assessment may be different from another. The list goes on.
Even if you think you’ve got it all figured out, things change quickly in the world of college applications and admissions. From year to year, schools’ criteria for the application process can evolve, and finding a source that has all of the current information can be a challenge. Schools will suggest that you “check their website” for the most current information, but even this may have its pitfalls.
Recently, I was helping an international student with her application to Lafayette College in Easton, PA. The Common App listed the Regular Decision application deadline as 1/15/2011. When checking the Lafayette website, however, the student found the following information:
Dec. 15 – International Regular Decision application deadline. Priority Deadline to submit the CSS Profile for International applicants seeking financial aid.
Needless to say, we were confused, befuddled, and confounded! Which was the right Regular Decision application deadline? January 15th or December 15th? Did Lafayette have a different application deadline for international students that wasn’t reflected on its Common App? Was the December 15th deadline just for those international students seeking financial aid? Why did the Common App and Lafayette’s website not seem to be in synch?
So, we contacted the Lafayette Admissions Office directly to ask them to clear up the confusion. An admissions officer was more than happy to field my phone call and answer my questions about the divergent information. As it turns out, the deadline is January 15th, not December 15th, and the earlier December date listed on Lafayette’s website was simply a “recommended deadline” for international students who were interested in applying for financial aid. Unfortunately, this wasn’t at all clear from the website information, and if we hadn’t called, we never would have figured it out on our own.
Admissions offices do not mind being contacted with questions. They recognize that the application process is complicated and that students want to put their best foot forward when applying. Calling with a question should never negatively influence your chances for admission to a school. In fact, by calling, a school may even see it as a positive sign of interest on your part.
Understanding the details and discrepancies of college applications can be a huge challenge. When you can’t figure it out, call Admissions!