Remembering deadlines for graduation applications, student aid, and graduate school applications while juggling school, work, and extracurriculars can often seem overwhelming, and students run the risk of letting one or more of these deadlines slip from their memory amidst all the hectic doings of higher education.
by Alexander Montgomery
Student at Cal State Los Angeles
On a not-so-crisp October evening not too long ago, I found myself rushing across my university’s campus, just leaving class and hoping with all my pounding heart I could make it to the Cashier’s office to turn in my graduation application before they closed for the night at 7 PM.
As the seconds ticked by and my feet smacked the asphalt over and over again, I couldn’t help but notice the moon, held up in the night sky by a million invisible strings; it seemed to hang over my head like the Sword of Damocles, ready to fall and crush the world at any given moment. At any rate, I’m sure it was quite a sight, me running frantically across a mostly-abandoned campus, gorged backpack jingling on my shoulders.
I made it to the student administration building at 6:58 exactly, but to my dismay, the Cashier had been relieved of their post, and their window was shuttered. The sign read, “CLOSED” in big bright black letters, mocking my deep, wheezy breaths. I told myself I’d try again tomorrow, and dejectedly made my way to the campus transit center, where, to my surprise, the bus I took home every day had left the station just a few minutes early, as it does from time to time. So, winded and sore from an already exhausting Wednesday, I sat on an empty bench and waited for the next one.
Waiting and waiting, I lamented on how seemingly trivial things like deadlines for applications had almost clandestinely made its way into my list of priorities as a college student; that sort of thing is easy to forget in the midst of mountains of coursework. So soon did I forget how my 12th-grade English teacher made sure to set aside time during several class periods to teach us the ins and outs of how college applications worked, what the expectations were for incoming freshmen, etc.
On some level, I was aware of how important these lessons in prudence would be in the long run, but never had any idea of how they all ultimately served as a precursor to the numerous instances of concentrated bureaucracy I would face as an undergraduate student.
FAFSA is the most glaring example of this, but I’ve found that as my journey through the world of higher education has gone on, filling out and refiling the application has become part of my yearly routine. Also, as an undergraduate in his senior year, I find myself obligated to research different graduate programs and compare all the deadlines in order to fully consider all the options for my post-graduation plans.
Most of these programs, I’ve found, have quite an extensive application process, and often require interested parties to not only fill out said application, but produce and enclose numerous supplementary documents, including personal statements and letters of recommendation. The amount of time and work that conceivably go into planning and completing an assignment of this magnitude is almost certainly why so many universities make their students aware of the due dates for these application packages so many months in advance.
Remembering deadlines for graduation applications, FAFSA, and graduate school applications while juggling school, work, and extracurriculars can often seem overwhelming, and students run the risk of letting one or more of these deadlines slip from their memory amidst all the hectic doings of higher education.
To avoid this, taking some time out of the day to make a list in the LifeSpace app (or even an Excel spreadsheet if you’re feeling particularly saucy) of all those applications’ due dates would save you an incredible amount of trouble in the long run. Or, at the very least, maybe it’ll save you from rushing across campus to turn in whatever it is you need to turn in to your school’s Cashier at the last possible second.
Learning to do paperwork in advance isn’t just a valuable skill in higher education, but something that every adult living in the world has to know how to do; for example, doing your taxes tends to go a lot smoother if you do them in February as opposed to waiting until the weekend before April 15. It might sound painful, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of relief that rushes through your nerves when that deadline finally comes, and you catch yourself thinking, “oh, I already did that, so that’s one less thing to worry about.” And life, I’ve found, tends to be just a little easier when there’s one less thing weighing on your brain. At least, for a little while.