Why are college and scholarship applications so complicated?

I wrote recently about a number of deadlines our household faced this winter. (You can read about it here.) While these were not (yet) college deadlines, they were similar to the Common Application and other admission applications in their make-up, each requiring student information, essays, transcripts, and teacher recommendations.

Via xkcd.com

Via xkcd.com

On deadline day for a summer lab internship, Mod Squad Julie asked why the application needed to be so complicated. I’m not sure it needed to be — but it certainly was. I’ve been thinking about that since, especially since she will be working on college applications later this year.

1.  Every application is different. The actual interface for each admission, financial aid, and scholarship application is determined by the individual colleges and other entities. The Common App provides some streamlining, but most colleges offering the Common App also require their own supplementary forms. Some are available via the Common App; some are only available via the college website. Like it or not, each interface requires its own learning curve.

2.  Deadlines and requirements are not always clear. Some colleges do this well, providing a complete timeline for applicants. On other websites, the admission deadlines are separate from the financial aid deadlines, which are also separate from the supplementary submission deadlines for arts or other specialty programs.

3.  Most applications have multiple, moving parts. M.S. Julie’s summer program application is a great example of this. A new program offered through UVa required the following:

  • Fillable pdf application form to be downloaded, completed, saved, and emailed back.
  • Teacher recommendation letter to be downloaded by the teacher, completed, saved, and emailed back.
  • UVa application for visiting HS students, part I, to be completed online via the University’s SIS.
  • UVa application for visiting HS students, part II, to be printed, completed by parents and mailed in paper form.
  • UVa application for visiting HS students, part II, to be printed, completed by HS guidance or Principal and mailed with transcript in paper form.

This combination of online form submission, pdfs to be emailed, and paper forms to be mailed makes my head spin. I understand how this happened — a new program requests information specific to it and additional to the standard summer application the University already requires. The administrators were very helpful when we contacted them with questions. I’m just saying, this was complicated.

4.  Deadlines.  Julie has fine-tuned her ability to perform triage on a multitude of school and extracurricular schedule demands. Adding essay-writing and the many steps required to build an application makes the deadline dance even more interesting. Or, complicated.

5.  High stakes raise the stress level. A high level of interest in gaining entrance — to a college or summer program — raises the stakes for providing every bit of information the application requires and writing the best responses to the essay prompts or questions.

We’ve had a lovely break since M.S. Pete wrote applications in the fall of 2011. It’s time to get back into the game and this was good practice for both Julie and me.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Getting In

4 responses to “Why are college and scholarship applications so complicated?

  1. Pingback: Q&A: Son is a HS freshman — Where to begin? | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

  2. Pingback: What Happens When? The College Admissions Calendar. | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

  3. Pingback: Sending emails to strangers. At colleges. Asking for appointments. | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

  4. Pingback: What Happens When? The College Admissions Calendar, expanded. | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s