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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thoughts on theories....

Over the past few months of reviewing files, I've kept my eyes and ears open regarding a few theories that have been bandied about for several years.

(Let's just say I've been informally "testing" them to see if they are valid.)
  • Applicants who turn their application in early submit stronger, more detailed, applications.
  • Applications that are submitted many weeks before the deadline reflect the detailed planning and attention to detail of the applicant.
  • Applications that are submitted at the very last minute (barely meeting the deadline) tend to reflect the chaotic nature of actually getting the application in on time.
  • Applications submitted on the day of the deadline include Letters of Recommendations that aren't as detailed or insightful (or supportive) as those submitted weeks before the deadline.
  • Applicants who submitted their applications early in the process tend to be relaxed, confident, patient and optimistic.
  • Applicants who submitted their applications at the last minute tend to be the most critical of the admissions process and want immediate confirmation/answers as to the status of their application. And they are stressed out.
Things that make you go "Hmmm..."

The jury is still out on whether the theories have validity. But it certainly has me thinking...

What do YOU think?


Anonymous said...

Bravo. Well, I can add a tangential statement... I was recently talking with a rather large group of second-year UCSF School of Pharmacy students (aka P2s, folks), and it came up that not a single one of them had contacted our office when submitting during that admissions cycle - they each just submitted the application and were patient, and then got invited for an interview, etc. I think that speaks to confidence, preparation, and attention to detail...

Anonymous said...

Good questions, hopefully you will share the results of your informal study at some point. Regarding the last statement about applicants who submit at the last minute and are the most critical of the process and/or want immediate confirmation as to their status, I would tend to believe this is mostly true. Those that submitted earlier in the process would tend to be more patient, because they are not stressed that their application actually made it to the right place by the deadline. As far as the rest, I personally don't believe the strength of a candidates application could necessarily be "judged" on when it was submitted. For instance, Candidate "A" may be motivated to submit early because they are submitting to multiple schools (including those with rolling admissions) and may spend weeks, early in the process, to make their application strong. While Candidate "B" decides to submit later in the process, because they are only submiting to schools without rolling admissions, or other factors interefered with completion of the application, such as work or school. Candidate "B" could spend just as many hours tending to their application, but in shorter increments. Both applicants could be equally motivated to submit applications with great attention to detail, but submit early or late for varying personal reasons. Those are just my thoughts, but the actual results of your informal survey would be most interesting.

Anonymous said...

Well, I was one of the students standing in line at the post office the day of the deadline, but my reason wasn't because I was in any way less detailed. If anything, it was because I was trying to perfect my essays. I could have submitted my app weeks in advance, but I chose to use those weeks to ponder over what I'd written and get second, third, fourth opinions, as well as MANY drafts. I felt that overall, my gpa+extracurriculars were so similar to everyone else's, I needed the extra time to make my essays spend out and to make sure what I was turning in was my very best effort. But that's just my 2 cents :)

Joel W. Gonzales said...

When you say "spend out", what does that mean? I'm not familiar with that term. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Joel, I think you've left out one critical element of all of this. It sounds like you're forgetting about the PharmCAS side of the application. I would think that the applicant who is truly disorganized is going to also have submitted their PharmCAS essay at the 11th hour, whereas the organized student is going to have submitted PharmCAS way early, in July or August, because the rolling admissions deadlines of other schools would require it.

To illustrate... if PharmCAS is completed in August (no small feat in & of itself), that means rolling admissions school apps are submitted in September (this is especially challenging for those of us who are both working and volunteering heavily for purpose of improving our apps). Unless the applicant chooses to do a lackluster copy/paste job, by the time those applications are done to a high quality standard, it leaves precious little time for the non-rolling UC schools... we're talking 3-4 weeks of intense writing, rewriting, soul searching, etc., and that's just to meet the Nov 2 mailing deadline... never mind getting it in early!

The truly disorganized, last minute applicant would have not structured the last 5 months of their lives around pharmacy school applications-- rather, they would have submitted PharmCAS in late September or October. So perhaps these observations should be revised to reflect the big picture, and not just focus on the very narrow criteria of when the UCSF supplemental app was mailed.

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