CASPA Tips & Tricks # 3- Follow Through

Ready for another cringe-worthy story? This one ironically enough involves the program I’m starting at in August! The universe settled in my favor, but it was definitely a close call, and I am hoping to help you avoid the same almost devastating scenario.

This story begins last fall. It’s November 2016. I’ve had two interviews so far (a much better start than the first time I applied!) but I am antsy that there are certain programs I haven’t heard a peep from, particularly ones that offered interviews to applicants who submitted their primary applications long after I did.  This prompts me to send out update letters to the remaining programs, letting them know I am still actively acquiring patient care hours, that I have taken on new volunteering roles, etc. One particular program is kind enough to write back to me to say my application is incomplete.

INCOMPLETE?! How is that even possible? I frantically check back to my Excel spreadsheet– primary application submitted May 10, secondary application submitted May 31, secondary application payment (by mail, as a cashier’s check- that’s the kicker) on June 1. I was told they never received my payment. I call Bank of America immediately and they say the check was cashed. Whether or not it was stolen in the mail and cashed by someone else I will never know (the bank could only tell me what day it was cashed, not a branch location or any other information). At this point in November, the program’s deadline has come and gone—literally by 24 hours, but the date has passed. I try not to panic. Fortunately, after I explain my timeline with all the other application materials, the fact that the check was cashed in June and the fact that it is my second time applying, the admissions office graciously allows me to hand deliver a replacement check the following morning (no amount of rush hour traffic in Southern California was going to stop me)! At this point, I know interviews have already been offered for several months and I think to myself that I am doomed.

Long story short- they review my application, I am offered a seat at their last interview day in February, and am shortly thereafter granted acceptance. What a whirlwind.

The moral of this story is to tell everyone how crucially important it is to keep track of EVERY single email confirmation and application submission date and to follow through the minute something doesn’t seem right. Maybe this advice is already a no-brainer for you. This issue with payment was my fault; I should have kept an eye on the check (it wasn’t from my personal account, which was the biggest mistake of all) to make sure it made its way into the hands of the admissions team. Most programs fortunately take application fees via the internet, which typically yields either an immediate confirmation page or a confirmation email (both of which I printed and saved in my massive applications materials binder).

When you’re applying to 24 programs like I did last cycle, organization and check lists are truly your very best friends.  My Excel spreadsheet tracked every single primary application submission, secondary application submission, secondary application fee confirmation, GRE score receipt, etc. The only thing that slipped through the cracks was that darn cashier’s check. And look how important that one piece of paper turned out to be. I should have known better! And now you can know better too. There are a lot of moving pieces involved in submitting a complete CASPA application, and I know at times it seems like a mountain of information to keep track of. I promise the end results are all worth it.


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