Despite the looming application deadline (or, perhaps, because of it), the Admissions staff will be meeting off-site today to plan for the coming deluge and all that follows. Fortunately, Katherine thought ahead and has tips for those of you putting the finishing touches on your application.
The pace is really picking up here in the Admissions Office! Just as many of you are scrambling to pull together your applications by the big deadline — January 10 — we’re already busy processing the first waves of applications we’ve received. By now you’ve all heard your share of tips from other members of the Admissions Staff: Liz offered up suggestions on how to approach the new online interview, Christine gave her seasoned advice specifically for international applicants, and there’s even a blog category dedicated to Admissions Tips. As the admissions coordinator, I see every beautiful/messy/thorough/spotty application that passes through the office, so I thought I would offer up my advice on how to put all the physical pieces together to put forward your strongest possible application.
First, and you’ve heard this before, read the directions! It should be obvious from the application and the instructions exactly what you need to submit. The application inspector (Step 6) is a huge help. The instructions can be found in a lot of places, including here. (Read them now, even if you don’t plan on applying until next fall.) Remember to plan extra time for some pieces to reach us, such as test scores that need to come directly from the testing service.
Second, double-check your uploads! It’s rare that applicants submit two copies of their personal statement instead of both their personal statement and their essay, but it happens. Even more unfortunate is when an applicant uploads a draft of the personal statement, complete with comments we’re never meant to see.
Third, provide clear transcripts! We prefer to see a scanned copy of your official transcript as opposed to a printout of the online version. If, for some reason, you need to submit an online printout, please make sure it clearly states the institution you attended. We won’t give you credit for a transcript if it doesn’t have the school’s name! Remember to submit a transcript for each institution you listed on the educational institutions page (page 3 of the application form). And remember that, if we can’t read your transcript, your application will be incomplete and we are going to ask you for another one. Make sure it’s legible!
Fourth, use page 11! The Additional Information section is invaluable to you and to us. Use it to explain anything that may not be obvious in your submitted materials. Perhaps your study abroad semester is buried within a different school’s transcript. Perhaps you took a summer language course but it didn’t provide a transcript. Maybe you are currently enrolled in a class and the grade(s) will be available after our deadline. Don’t make us guess about these things — use the Additional Information section to tell us.
Fifth, make it clear who your recommenders are. There are two places on the application where you have to list their information: page 1 of the application form and step 5. Make sure that these sections match. If they don’t, I look like this: [imagine person sitting at a desk with a big speech bubble above her head filled with question marks].
Sixth, make sure your information is clean and clear. Capitalize your name. Spell out your street address. We know it’s a lot of work to put together a complete application: make it shine!
Seventh, don’t send duplicates. Feel free to upload an unofficial transcript if the official one is going to take longer to get to us. Please do not send us or email us all of the pieces that you already submitted online — if we are missing anything, we will notify you directly.
Eighth, standardized test scores are required. An application is incomplete without them. If you want your application to be complete, submit your official test scores. If you took them shortly before submitting your application, indicate your test date so that we can keep an eye out for them.
Ninth, try to get everything to us at the same time. We happily accept pieces, when appropriate, though mail and email, though in most cases you should be able to submit everything online. If we can pair everything up and complete your application at once, you’re golden! Having a complete file that follows the directions is a good way to indicate right off the bat that you’re prepared for the demands of a rigorous graduate program.
Finally, relax! If you’ve done all of these things, chances are you’ve submitted an excellent physical application. We look carefully at every application that comes in and we will assuredly reach out to you in the event we need anything. In this case, no news is good news.