It’s a cool and crisp morning — perfect for November — but I’m snug in my kitchen for a day of (mostly) reading Early Notification applications.  Before I get started on my reading, a quick blog note.

You know the old image of someone trying to make a decision with a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other?  Like this, for example:

Homer

I would like to volunteer to be your “deadline angel,” and if I’m to take my volunteer gig seriously, I cannot wait until January to start pestering you to get your application in before the deadline.  Rather, I want to plant the idea now that you should set a pre-deadline deadline for yourself.  January 1 would work.  Or earlier!  And then you need to work back from your personal deadline to create a plan for yourself.

Have you taken your standardized exams and had results sent to Fletcher?  If not, you should not wait another minute to schedule the exam.  Wait any longer and it will be difficult to book a convenient test date.  Depending on where you’re located, it may already be tricky.

Have you asked your professors and/or professional supervisors to write recommendation letters for you?  Nearly all the applications that linger in our “incomplete” bin in February are being held up by missing recommendations.  Ensuring those letters arrive on time is up to you, and you can ease the job for yourself by contacting your recommenders early to request their letters.

Essays can take a while to perfect.  Create a draft now, and continue to work on it.  Wait until January to write your first draft and it’s likely you’ll submit something you’re not happy with.  Every year we receive requests from applicants who want to continue revising their applications even after submitting them.  Ummm, no.  Sorry.  What you submit is what we review.  (Of course, if you have new test scores or course grades, we will certainly look at those.)

Is your résumé current and in good shape?  Two or three pages maximum, with education and professional experience both listed in reverse chronological order.  Other formats will not serve you as well for this purpose.

My decision to get a jump on the deadline reminders came to me last week when we had several calls from applicants who had waited until the last minute to book an interview appointment and could no longer arrange what they had hoped for.  There are still some on-campus interview appointments, but Skype interviews have been snatched up as quickly as we have created them (and we have, in fact, added a few for each week).  On the other hand, we had plenty of availability in October, both for October and for plan-ahead appointments in November/December.

I won’t go on, because the point is that you need to consider your own work habits and the requirements of the schools you’ll apply to, and then make a plan that works for you.  If you haven’t already made such a plan, your deadline angel suggests that you should not put it off any longer.

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