Why Two Weeks?
Q: Why does my counselor ask for me to submit my application two weeks before a college or university's deadline?
A: This is an important question, and one that we hope all students and parents will understand. There are several answers here...
The first one is that if a student plans ahead to be done with an application two weeks before the deadline, it psychologically eliminates much of the stress of the application process that is derived from doing things at the last minute.
Second, it provides a buffer, time for the student to reflect on what he or she has done ahead of the deadline. If a student works to complete things two weeks ahead of time and then, while reviewing things in preparing to send, comes to the realization that something is missing or something is not as strong as they might like, then there is still time to adjust and to work with a counselor.
Third, things go missing in the submission process. It is getting better and better, but it is a plain fact that application materials do not always arrive where they are supposed to on time. There is a startling correlation between things missing and applying close to the deadline. Some of this comes from the technology and application portals getting jammed-up in the days leading into a deadline. (We want to be clear that counselor materials -- recommendations, transcripts, profile -- are always submitted ahead of the deadlines, and, if they go missing in the submission process, they are not held against the student. Colleges, generally, are very accommodating when things are missing but there is evidence that they were submitted on time.)
Fourth, this allows your counselor to provide you and all of your classmates with equal attention. If everyone is pushing ahead with last-minute applications, then the counselors are being asked to respond and support accordingly. Of course, we will do our best to support all of our students, but when one student's last-minute, eleventh-hour process keeps us from orderly and composed support of a student who is being proactive for a later application deadline, then things become unbalanced and unfair.
Fifth, there is a small consideration in the application process at many places for the date and time of the submission, which colleges can see. It looks far better, of course, when a student submits in advance of a deadline than at the last minute. To be clear, it does not HURT a student to submit at the last minute -- colleges will support this! -- but it can HELP a student's image as a matter of demonstrated interest to submit early.
Finally, consider the following real scenario... If a student applies on October 18 for a November 1 deadline, it usually takes a few days for the college or university to get back to the student confirming the application and receipt of materials. That means a student would probably hear back by about October 23. Now, consider the possibilities for missing materials: a student could have forgotten to submit SAT scores, an arts supplement, an essay, payment, etc. Or, as mentioned before, something could go missing in the submission process, such as a letter of recommendation, an ISD transcript, a previous school transcript, etc. If the student applied two weeks ahead, we still have over a week to make sure all is in order before the deadline. However, if the student applies on October 31 for a November 1 deadline, they would not hear back until probably November 5 (and actually likely much later given that it takes more time for admissions offices to process those applications that come in at the deadline). Now it is after the deadline. Stress is high. If materials are missing, even if all has been submitted and we need only email the college admissions office to let them know all was sent -- which is usually all that it takes -- it is still over a week after the deadline. So, when these scenarios, which happen all too regularly, are avoidable, we strongly recommend that students do all that they can to avoid them!
Apply two weeks ahead of any posted college deadline!