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How early is "early"?


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Sorry, I keep flooding this board with questions. Most of the people I know who went to grad school were there about forty years ago and aren't much help! 


I'm applying to three graduate schools - one in the US, one in Canada and one in the Netherlands. All my documents are completely ready and uploaded, except for a couple which have been sent by post and haven't arrived at the schools yet. Anyway, I'd like to get these in as soon as I can. However, I'm not sure how close I can get to the deadline before losing it all. 


The university in the Netherlands has two deadlines, Feb 1 and April 1, and wants me to submit the letters personally. My two profs who are writing the letters are OK with this. They don't want the application at all before all documents are in. Which is fine.


The Canadian one (dl January 19) wants the letters before submission, won't process an early application without them, fine. 


The one in the US (dl January 15) "strongly encourages" early applications - it doesn't specify why, but a different part of the site suggests it's to account for screwed-up paperwork. They suggest sending it in before all the references are received (my references know they have been chosen, have had the link for a while, and one has already submitted). In people's experiences here, is this a wise idea? If my profs take too long to submit between the application and the deadline - that is, if they're still before the deadline, but several weeks after I submit everything else - will the university junk the whole thing?


Of my references, one has finished his letter, one hopes to have it ready by the first week of January, and the third (American school only) wants to submit it this week.


Anyway, the big wrench in the works is the holiday break coming up. I was hoping to submit two weeks ahead of the deadline, but in some cases that's still during a holiday, so some of university offices are actively not accepting documents during that time. Is, say, January 5th too late for a January 15th/19th deadline? Or is a deadline a deadline? I know it's kind of a dumb question, but this is just SO important to me I don't want to mess it up. I'm sure you know the feeling  :)

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I can only speak for the US application process. Usually as long as the professors submit their applications before or by the deadline you should be fine. They usually have computerized systems that will put together all the material on your behalf (application, transcripts, GRE, recommendations, etc.). Just make sure that your name is spelled correctly on everything in your application package or that could lead to delays which may negatively impact your admission status. To be safe try to submit your material as soon as possible and get your recommenders to do the same - it helps in case there happens to be some error to have a little bit of cushioning before the hard deadline. Hope that helps a little bit and good luck with your applications. 

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I submitted quite early~ around one and a half month before the official deadline because of my special circumstances (I have a mononym name, so i need to do a lot of e-mailing to make sure all scores were received properly and not lost due to computer error).


In my opinion, there aren't anything called "too early" or "too late". As long as the university has opened up their application, you're free to submit your application within the application period. Depending on each school policy, some will start sorting out (and reviewing) your application once it was submitted, others won't do that before the deadline.

In my case, I was offered admission by Texas A&M and rejection by USC as early as (02 Dec) way before their official deadline (15 Dec). Others like UPenn has only started sorting out my application this 16 Dec.

Edited by Maxtini
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