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Covering Your Ass on College Applications

September 1, 2010

If by chance you are reading this, and you are perhaps heading into the fall semester of undergrad before a contemplated jump to graduate school, leading to the late fall and early winter rounds of applications, please know and understand that it is in your best interest to majorly cover your ass.  Colleges is stoopid.  Art skool seems particularly stoopid.  Academies, universities and institutes is stoopid, too.  Out of fifteen or so schools I applied to graduate programs at, I had the following happen:

  • Stoopid Skool A: lost all of my transcripts
  • Stoopid Skool B: lost two out of three letters of recommendation
  • Stoopid Skool C: lost my whole application and entire painting portfolio

Admissions is part of an educational structure that costs tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars [unless you win an epic scholarship] and it seems as if the place is run by monkeys, really disorganized monkeys, or -worse- student employees. 

I was smart, I finished all of my applications a month or more in advance; and things still went sideways.  Use this helpful checklist to help CYA and guard against the tsunami of clerical ineptitude that can be or is an admissions office:

  1. Apply early, early, early.  Have all of your stuff done a month in advance or more.  As soon as you can apply, get the ball rolling.  Grad school applications are about as fun as doing income taxes and on a bad day can take just as long.
  2. Give a helpful list to all professors and professionals writing letters of recommendation on your behalf.  This list should have the college name, program, department and address grouped together so letter writers can slam the LORs out all at once.  If you have to chase people around for a letter for every little admission application, you’re making more work for yourself and the person helping you.
  3. Keep all receipts of transcripts purchased, and confirmation codes, reference numbers, etc. for online application elements or submissions.  Save data!
  4. Keep a log in a file of the deadlines for each application and what date things were sent.  Call and follow up with the office or send an email inquiry to confirm the component of the application was received and is on file.  Keep track of whom you speak with and the time and date in the log.  Write everything down.
  5. Send an email and ask if everything required for your application is on file and in good order and that nothing is outstanding.  Keep the response that confirms your application is complete and with the school.  Get this in a letter or as an email especially because some of the derps that said my application was complete over the phone where the same derps that lost things.

I also found it helpful to make email in-box categories for each of the schools I applied to so I could sort through the different correspondences more easily.  Good luck; but hopefully, you won’t need luck.

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Categories: Artist Tips, Uncategorized
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