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After You Submit Your Application

By Tom Nicholas

October 27, 2017

As our first application deadline (and the first major deadline nationally) approaches, I can almost sense the thousands of nervous fingers getting ready to click the application “Submit” button. Submitting your college application is a milestone in this process, and brings with it both a sense of relief and, perhaps, a new nervousness — "Did I do everything correctly? Does the college have everything they need? What happens next?"

We live in an age of electronic communication, when many of our transactions are instantaneous, when most college applications are reviewed on computer screens, and when you can often check the status of your application online. But in a process as complex as college admission, there is still a lot of manual, human work required. In our office, there are four full-time staff members whose sole job through much of the year is application processing; last year, they processed approximately 102,000 documents (not counting standardized test scores) from dozens of different sources.

So while you may be anxious to ensure your application is complete, I’d encourage you to take a deep breath and allow a little bit of time for the process to play out. Here’s what happens and what to expect after you click “Submit” on your Richmond application:

  1. You get an email from the Common or Coalition Application confirming that your application was submitted. Hooray!
  2. But not so fast. Richmond doesn’t actually have your application yet — it’s now sitting in a sort of digital holding pen. Our staff have to download it from the application server into our system, which is a manual process. They typically do this once a day, Monday-Friday.
  3. Within about 24 hours of our downloading your application, you’ll get a second email — this one from Richmond — letting you know that we’ve received it. Another hooray!
  4. Once we’ve downloaded your application, we have to process it into our document-reading system and catalogue the different pieces (this is a recommendation letter, that’s a transcript, etc.) Some of this is automatic, but much of it requires human assessment — especially when we have pieces coming from different sources (your school’s transcript system, separate recommendations emailed and snail-mailed to us, test score files from ACT or the College Board, etc.) We need to ensure we’re matching them correctly to your application.
  5. Within about a week of submitting your application — typically 2-3 days after you receive the first email from Richmond — you’ll get a second email from us. This one will include your login credentials for MyApp, our online system where you can check the completeness of your application and see what we have on file.

If everything is there, great! You’re good to go.

If you notice that items are missing, don’t freak out. Each application plan has a credentials deadline (listed on your plan timeline) by which you need to ensure that everything is on file — two weeks after the deadline for Early Decision candidates, and one month after the deadline for Early Action and Regular Decision candidates. This gives you (and us) some breathing room. It’s okay (encouraged, in fact!) to wait a little while before reaching out to us about missing materials — in many cases, you’ll find that they show up all on their own after a few days. If they’re still not there a week or so after the application deadline, that’s the time to think about calling or emailing us.

Keep in mind that, in the days surrounding our two main deadlines (November 1 and January 15), we’re receiving the vast bulk of those 102,000 documents I mentioned earlier. Around those deadlines, you can expect to wait a little bit longer for us to process materials. We’re also receiving a lot of panicked phone calls and emails in those first few days after the deadline (apparently not everybody is reading this helpful blog post?), so you’d probably be looking at a longer response time anyway. It’s truly best to wait a few more days and let the dust settle.

Ultimately, while it’s your responsibility to make sure your application is complete, we’ll do everything we can to assist and aid you. If something went awry and a document was lost somewhere in the far reaches of the interwebs, we’ll work with you to track it down — or get a fresh copy, if needed. We’ve got your back — we’d just ask for a little bit of patience.

Once your application is complete, there's nothing more you need to do. You can expect to hear from us by the approximate notification date of your application plan. This is a whole different sort of waiting, we know — for all the time it takes to process application documents, it takes that much more to review those applications holistically, familiarize ourselves with our thousands of applicants, and set about selecting those whom we'll invite to join us next fall. A few initial suggestions about how to pass the time: keep working hard in school; enjoy your senior year; and check back on the admission blog and/or follow us on Twitter for more application season tidbits.

If you have any general questions, feel free to post in the comments below!

Tags: Application Process Inside the Admission Office

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Tom NicholasTom Nicholas
Senior Assistant Director of Admission 


A Richmond alumnus (Class of 2007), Tom has been working and blogging for the Office of Admission since he graduated. He loves his alma mater and the city that shares its name.

Learn more about Tom


Beth Anne SpachtBeth Anne Spacht
Assistant Director of Admission


Beth Anne was a double major at Richmond (English and Latin American & Iberian Studies) and now enjoys helping prospective students discover the best of her alma mater.

Learn more about Beth Anne

The University of Richmond is a highly ranked liberal arts university offering an extraordinary combination of the liberal arts with law, business, leadership studies, and continuing education. The university is consistently named a best value in higher education by leading publications.

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