Students know the drill: November 1 at 11:59 p.m. is the absolute deadline for early applications for most of their schools; a few are due on November 2 and 15. If your power goes out in the neighborhood or your credit card is declined, you have almost no recourse. There is very little room for excuses or mercy in the admissions world.
So what happens to the College Board and the ACT when THEY miss THEIR deadlines? Apparently, not much. Because of high volume of SAT test-takers this fall, the College Board has had difficulty getting score reports to the colleges that require them by November 1. It is of little comfort to hear that they promised to refund the fees for people who paid for rush delivery. In addition, the ACT September test scores were also delayed because of high volume and the difficulty in scoring the new writing tests in a timely fashion.
Although the explanations are understandable, will colleges and universities give the applicants a break if those scores do not arrive on time? The students can view their scores on the websites and are certainly capable of self-reporting the scores on the Common App. They might also be able to send screen shots of the scores to prove that they are not fabricating the results. But will the schools accept them? Obviously, the individual schools make their own decisions. And so students and parents are scrambling to email, call and beg admissions officers for clemency.
According to an October 23 article in Inside Higher Education, the ACT has urged colleges “to consider accepting screenshots of the student’s September multiple-choice scores from their official ACT student account as a provisional measure, if application deadlines are nearing, until official scores are sent. We will encourage students facing deadlines to send a copy of the email they receive from ACT, along with a screenshot of their ACT multiple-choice test scores, to any applicable colleges to verify that they are among the students impacted by this situation.”
Of course, this holds back the decision-making process and it would be within the rights of the colleges to extend their notification dates by a week or so to compensate. We’d have to live with that. But this shouldn’t be the responsibility of the applicants. Many schools extended deadlines in 2013 as a result of Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters. Nobody had to beg them to be kind. Let’s hope that schools will do the same for students whose test scores miss the deadline through no fault of their own.