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Justin Bryant

Nov 15, 2004, 8:18 PM

Post #1 of 5 (3441 views)
application headaches Can't Post

I know someone was recently raving about online applications, but I am not finding the process to be terribly smooth. The schools I've chosen to apply to all have online applications, but I find all of them clunky. One issue is, in some cases they don't give me enough room in the field to type the information they are asking for. My city is "Little Torch Key" - a total of 16 characters. It doesn't fit in the fields of two of the applications. There are also questions like, "List all research, publications, and relevant experience here" - and then they give me about half a line. But these are minor points.

The real annoyance is the letters of recommendation. All my choices want them differently - use the form, don't use the form, have the recommender send it directly to the school, send it yourself with all other materials. I've confused the hell out of my recommenders in trying to get this information to them.

The personal statement and writing sample hasn't been easy, either, although that's my own fault: I don't have access to my own computer right now (long story) and the friend's computer I'm using for applications doesn't have Word, for some reason - only Word Pad, which doesn't even give a page count, among other limitations.



Nov 15, 2004, 10:26 PM

Post #2 of 5 (3432 views)
Re: [grimson] application headaches Can't Post

Oh, I rave about online applications, but I hear ya on the pain in the ass factor.

My solution is to send a detailed CV or resume (including things such as relevant publicatons) along with your writing sample.

That CV will have your proper contact information and a detailed list of the important things that you want to have considered.

As far as letters of recommendation are concerned, I've been electing the e-mail option whenever it's offered. For the schools that want a traditional letter on letterhead, I've assembled a postage-paid packet that pretty much idiot-proofs the whole process.

The letters that go back to me are in SASEs with my address. The letters that go straight to the program are in SASEs addressed the program. I paperclip each program's instructions to the appropriate SASE, and send the whole thing off at once.

Also, because I know who I'm dealing with in terms of who's responsible and who's a procrastinator, I've stuck Post-It notes with the program's deadline date to each envelope.

But anyway....

I'm sure you don't need someone like me to tell you this, but you need--NEED--to get to a computer that has Word.

Find a library or an internet cafe or a Kinko's or someting. You're doing yourself a real disservice if you're not using a proper word processor.

Apart from things like spell checking and word count tools and knowing how many pages you have before you print, you need to be able to format your writing sample with your name and page number on every page.

Hell--if you're in the Chicago area, I'll let you come over to my house so you can use my computer. I'm serious.

Best of luck on the rest of your application.

Justin Bryant

Nov 16, 2004, 8:48 AM

Post #3 of 5 (3423 views)
Re: [bighark] application headaches Can't Post

Thanks, bighark. Some good ideas there.

I couldn't be much further from Chicago - Key West - but thanks for the offer. I have it figured out, I think - I have yet another friend who DOES have Word, but isn't online. So I'll format my writing sample/personal statement there, save it on disk, then plop them into the applications from this computer.


Nov 18, 2004, 11:35 PM

Post #4 of 5 (3371 views)
Re: [bighark] application headaches Can't Post

I completely agree with bighark on the postage-paid, idiot-proof recommendation packet. I made sure I included SASEs and lots of Post-It notes ("Seal here and sign across the seal").

It seems to be working: One of my recommenders completed his packet, and another one is in the process of completing hers. (Gotta go see what that third one's up to...)

Also, re the computer: Yes, you must have a good word processor, but make sure you have a good PRINTER as well. My stories are beautiful, but you wouldn't know it by the smeared ink (and this is even after I put a new cartridge in). My printer is almost 5 years old; sounds like retirement age to me.

Bighark: I too am in the Chicago area. But not for long, God willing... :)

Nobody but God gets it right the first time. Everybody else has to rewrite. --attributed to Stephen King


Nov 23, 2004, 11:44 AM

Post #5 of 5 (3321 views)
Re: [grimson] application headaches Can't Post


I called the University of Arizona to cry about a recommender not having a letter ready by their draconian December 1st postmark deadline (and with my luck, it would probably be all 3 recommenders, plus me with a substandard writing sample). They just left me a voice mail at home, saying that they were extending their application deadline . . . (me waiting with baited breath, December 15, please December 15) . . . to DECEMBER 31!

Nothing official on the website yet, but the website looks kinda circa 1997 anyway.



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