Although a little surprising for this year, these kinds of extensions are hardly new.
Last year, the problem was the Common Application and all of the technical difficulties associated with getting new software off the ground. By the time the dust had settled, nearly 70 colleges and universities in every corner of the country had announced plans to extend both early action and early decision deadlines.
In 2012, at least 45 colleges issued notices that early deadlines would be extended in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, as the storm raced up the east coast and wreaked havoc on applicant plans to get materials in by November 1st.
This year, the problem is not as well defined. It may or may not have something to do with delays colleges are experiencing receiving test results from the October SAT test date, as a huge number of international students are caught-up in what appears to be a massive cheating scandal.
But more likely, the postponed deadlines are a result of internal administrative decisions based on external factors or a simple desire to pull in more early applications.
The University of Chicago is pinning the extension of its Early Action deadline to November 15, 2014, on its new No Barriers program, which evidently generated quite a few last-minute questions from students interested in learning more or wanting to take advantage of various benefits and resources offered to students applying with this plan in mind. Note that the extension is only for students planning to apply for needs-based financial aid.
George Mason announced its extension the night before deadline in a “tweet” from Amy Takayama-Perez, GMU’s Dean of Admissions. Without providing an additional explanation, Dean Takayama-Perez tweeted, “Extending the Early App FR deadline to Nov 10th. Still priority consideration for Honors & scholarships. You’re welcome seniors.”
Johns Hopkins simply added an asterisk to its description of the Early Decision program advising students that the ED deadline had been extended from November 3 to November 10, 2014. No further explanation was added, although the admissions office claims that these extensions are fairly routine and there was a desire to “take stress off of international students” having problems submitting test results.
Similarly, SMU added an asterisk indicating that its Early Action and Early Decision 1 deadlines have been extended to Sunday, November 9, 2014.
Colleges, especially those that recruit heavily in Asia, are well aware that the College Board is delaying the delivery of SAT scores for Chinese and South Korean students. Most are remaining flexible and adopted polices similar to the one announced by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
“We wouldn’t be withdrawing any applications for incomplete test scores for some time,” said Ashley Memory, assistant director of admission, in an interview with the Daily Tar Heel. “We have let students affected by these delays know that this will not be held against them at all and we will work with them to get those test scores in as soon as possible.”
It’s worth noting that high schools using the Naviance system to submit materials such as transcripts and recommendations have experienced intermittent problems delivering documents to colleges. Again, colleges are aware of these technical difficulties and don’t hold delays on the part of the school against the applicant—as long as the application was received on time. And so far, the document problems have not risen to the level of forcing most colleges to officially extend deadlines.