Curious thing about words… Do you ever look at a word and wonder how it got its meaning? Well, it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out how deadline got its meaning. Civil War prisoners actually forfeited their lives if they crossed a line marked by their captors. They would be shot dead… The meaning hasn’t changed much. A student that waits too late to send in a college application causes it to be treated as something dead by admissions committees.
Applications arriving very close to the deadline may not have much of a pulse depending on how well the applicant pool looks for a given college. The goal for years has been to lock in as many high school students, who fit the shopping list in the admissions office, as soon as possible. If all the individuals on that shopping list are checked off when your application arrives, there may be no room for even a very good applicant – AKA wait list.
Colleges fill up because once an applicant is accepted, they have until May 1st to say no thank you. It is common practice for colleges to accept more students than they can accommodate. They do this by crunching the numbers to figure out how many applicants typically say no to their acceptance letters. By accepting a calculated percentage of students above their target number, the colleges ideally end up with the desired size for their freshman class.
Even though it works well most of the time, this is not an exact formula. Colleges can end up with 20% more or fewer students than they want if they miscalculate anything influencing students in any given year.
The solution is simple. Don’t wait to get your applications submitted. Get a handful of acceptance notices then figure out which on looks best. Once you do, say yes to your top choice and send a, “thanks, but no thanks” to the others so they can make a student on the wait list a happy camper. The only thing you have to remember is not to let your application get too close to the DEADline.