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5 Important Things to Know About College Application Deadlines

Today is the first round of deadlines for a number of colleges. Honestly, it's been a harried couple of weeks. These Early Action deadlines to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Georgia Tech (in-state on 10/18), and the University of Georgia, to name a few, have been anything but easy for the hundreds of thousands of students applying, and me, the person editing more essays than I can count.

What I have learned over the years gets magnified before any big admissions deadlines. For those of you wondering what you need to know leading up to a deadline, here it is:

1. For public universities, deadlines are deadlines.

Typically, no exceptions are made. Pay attention to not only the actual date the application is due, but the timing as well. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill specifically states on the Common App supplement that the application needs to be submitted by 11:59 pm "local time." That means that you just need to submit the application by 11:59 pm where you live, not where UNC Chapel Hill is located.

2. Plan ahead and submit your application at least several days in advance of the deadline.

Most students apply within hours of the deadline making the risk of a college's admissions system crashing highly possible. You will sleep better the moment you submit your application.

3. Unless it's a Rolling Admissions program, submitting your application well before the deadline provides no advantage in the admissions process.

However, it can give a student peace of mind. (If you want to learn more about when to submit your applications, read this!)

4. You can submit different pieces of the application at different times.

If official score reports are required, they can be sent in advance of or after the student submits their portion of the application. The college counselor (or other letter-writers) can submit the school materials before or after the student submits their portion. Admissions offices have electronic systems that automatically match up the pieces of the application even if they arrive on different dates and by different individuals or organizations. 

5. If you get an immediate confirmation that the application was successfully submitted, take a breath.

It can usually take several days to several weeks after that for the college to actually "process" the application. Your admissions portal may look incomplete in the meantime.

Read More: 5 Secrets for Making Your College Applications Stand Out

It's 1:30 am on October 15th as I write this. I have finally finished editing all of my students' essays for the October 15th deadline. I don't know about you, but I plan to celebrate today. I will be taking the day off to spend it with my 10th grade daughter and go out to dinner with my two younger kids and husband. For all those students who burned the midnight oil like I did, go out and celebrate too!