Over my past decade as an educator, I have been in the position to choose students for a number of different opportunities. I have been on program admission and scholarship selection panels charged with evaluating teens on a number of different data points including grades, community service and extra-curricular activities. One surprising, unadvertised factor is often the order in which the application was received. In fact, in some instances when there has been a close call, THE deciding factor may be as simple as: whose application did we receive first?
It’s easy to believe that in this “on-demand” society that deadlines are flexible and that deadlines are mere suggestions – wrong! In my experience, in a number of different situations, applications received after the deadline were rarely considered. Not only do deadlines matter, an advantage may be gained by turning in materials early.
As a veteran application screener, I can offer three reasons why deadlines are crucial and why, for some opportunities, it may be to your advantage to apply early:
1. Young people today are facing unbelievable competition
Most application processes are incredibly competitive. Don’t give the readers an easy reason to disqualify you. During a scholarship committee meeting, I can recall a potential finalist being excluded because of misspelling the name of the sponsoring organization. Missing an important deadline fits into the category of a potential unwritten instant disqualifier.
2. This is an era of limited resources
In many cases, resources are scarce. The number of program and/or university spots that are available are finite. Unfortunately, some opportunities are limited by the amount of space available. An open secret is that students who apply early may have an advantage.
3. Applying early helps to fight reader fatigue
Would you rather that your scholarship application be the fourth or the forty-fourth to be evaluated? There is a definite wall that application readers hit before all of the information starts to blend together. Applying early helps to counteract any effect of reviewer burnout.
Deadlines are not only important, they are critical. Give yourself the best chance possible for success by adhering to the timelines that are spelled out by the sponsoring school and/or organization.
About the author: Sia Knight’s story is one of triumph in the face of adversity and achievement against all odds. This former teacher, counselor and administrator has transcended humble beginnings to become an educational specialist in one of the largest school divisions in the country.
For over 15 years, Sia Knight has been using her no-nonsense style to educate and empower hundreds of students, parents and fellow educators.