Your Application is In…
…but is it complete?
As you open your inbox on a chilly afternoon in late January, the last thing you expect to receive from a college or university is notification that your college application, whose deadline was January 1st, is currently incomplete. A thousand thoughts, concerns, frustrations, and worries race through your head as you attempt to imagine how this could happen and to understand what this might mean.
While only a small percentage of applicants will receive such notification, we have put together the following thoughts in an attempt to help you understand the communication that colleges and universities across the country may initiate in the near future.
Universities like Boston College receive thousands of applications each year. Think about how long it took you to put together your application. Now imagine the work it takes to receive, file, review, and respond to nearly 30,000 applications within a three-month span! Despite the time-sensitive challenges this process presents, we consistently pride ourselves in the attempts we make to ensure for you as smooth a process as possible. These letters are sent as a service to you, in order to help you complete your application.
One of the largest challenges with which universities are faced is not the ability to review your application in time, but helping you actually complete your application in time to be reviewed by our Committee. Most students send their application to Boston College in one envelope. This allows for smooth processing and minimizes the chances of your application being incomplete. If it is complete when mailed, it should be complete when received. Students who send in their various application credentials separately, however, are sometimes surprised if they are notified that their applications are incomplete.
Shortly after most colleges or universities receive your application, they will send notification that either your application is complete or it is missing credentials such that the Committee cannot review it. Boston College, like most colleges and universities, will not send a "Missing Items Letter" until we have checked all credentials in our possession after our application deadline. These letters are sent to provide a service to you: We want you to complete your application! They are not meant to cause additional anxiety or stress to you or your family. Therefore, allow us to offer some simple suggestions if you receive a "Missing Items Letter."
- Do not panic! As long as you contact the admission office immediately and forward these missing credentials by the date on the letter, your application will be reviewed.
- Do not presume that your guidance office or high school counselor is at fault. Remember, there are, at a minimum, three parties involved in this process: you, your counselor, and the universities to which you apply. Colleges have seen cases in which the student put the wrong address or insufficient postage on the envelope. In other cases, the guidance office did not have a record of a student's request to send a transcript to a particular university. Finally, in yet other cases, credentials have been incorrectly filed at the college with another applicant who has the same name as you! It is important to note that each of these parties is human and can make errors. Errors are not the norm, but when they do occur, it is important to remember that all three parties are working for you. None is interested in sabotaging your attempt to apply to University X, Y, or Z. Responding swiftly but calmly will produce the most effective results.
- Finally, if your letter informs you that items are missing, take action. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that the Office of Admission receives all required credentials. It is appropriate to call the Office of Admission first to inquire about the current status of your file. Sometimes, between the day we mail your letter and the day you receive it, your missing credential arrives. The first step is to make sure that your application is still incomplete on the day you receive your letter, and the best place to check is at the college or university.
In conclusion, while the "Missing Items Letter" may be an initial cause for concern, the goal is to ensure that your application will be reviewed. The university's alternative to sending the "Missing Items Letter" is to do nothing to notify its applicants of their incomplete status. Most applicants would agree that a little extra stress in January far outweighs the stress of having your incomplete application withdrawn in April. We look forward to working together with you to complete any incomplete files as soon as possible.