How to keep an eye on your application

Lots of snow all around, but we’re more-or-less back in business.  Even without having missed a day of work yesterday, we are SOOOOO LUCKY this week to have our super student interns, Caitlin, Kartik, and Lauren, sacrificing their vacation time to help us out.  They’ve been keeping the mail mountains to molehills, updating applications in the online system, and generally serving as the barricade separating us from nuttiness.  But, with the application deadline coming on Saturday, we’re getting ready for chaos (of the controlled variety, we hope) next week.

Meanwhile, it seems that, for some applicants, completing the application is the easy part.  The real stress comes during the post-submit information void — that stretch of time between hitting the submit button and learning that the application is complete.  (It’s worth noting that the chaos and the duration of the void are intricately linked.)  To try to ease some concerns, here is the blog’s annual rundown of what’s happening after you submit the application.  Note that many of these steps are (thanks to the wonders of technology and human effort) taking place simultaneously:

1.  You hit the online “submit” button.  Your application will be “stamped” with the date and time, and will wait within the Embark system for your registered online recommenders to submit their letters.  If all your recommenders have already submitted their letters, or if you haven’t registered any online recommenders, the application will be ready for us immediately, and we’ll upload it into our internal program.

2.  When your application (with online recommendations) is uploaded, you’ll receive an automatically generated email stating that we have received your application, and that you should wait ten business days before contacting the Admissions Office about any missing materials.  The email also provides you with a username and password to access the Tufts Graduate Application Management System (GAMS).  GAMS is the best way to track your application throughout the process.  We’ll also be posting decision letters to your GAMS account, so hang on to your username and password!

3.   Uploaded applications are printed in batches.  Once we have the paper copy, we’ll create a file folder for you.  (A big moment in the life of your application!)

4.  Meanwhile, Admissions Office staffers will risk paper cuts and worse while they open an endless stream of envelopes holding test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation from recommenders who weren’t registered online, etc.  We sort and file the mail.  If the application hasn’t yet been uploaded, the paper materials will “wait” for it to emerge from the system.

5.  Once we have your application in a file folder, we dig out the mail that has already been received for you and include it.  Then we update your record in the admissions system to show what materials have come in by mail.  You should track your application through GAMS, but we’ll also email you if there’s a document missing.  Emailing a member of the Admissions staff will, at this point in the process, give you only the information you can access yourself through GAMS.

6.  Your completed application is then given to Committee members to review, and you’ll receive your admission decision in late March.

The bottom line:  Pressing submit is the easy part for you, and receiving online materials is the easy part for us.  The challenge is that most applicants will submit their applications within 48 hours of the deadline, and it will take us a couple of weeks of mad scrambling to clear the instant backlog and create a thousand-plus application files.

Be sure to stay on top of the status of your application, but try to give us a little time to pull everything together.  By early February (only two weeks away, though we know it can feel like forever), everyone who has submitted all the materials needed for an application should find accurate and reassuring information on GAMS.

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