female student sitting on steps on laptop

You’ve always known the time would come to apply to colleges and universities. Maybe you’ve taken difficult courses and participated in extracurriculars in order to round out your resume. Perhaps you’ve made a list of schools you plan to apply to, and organized them by your first and last choices. Maybe you’ve completed your four years of college and are anxiously awaiting commencement day. But for one reason or another, you’ve missed one of the deadlines for college or graduation. What now? If you’re wondering what happens if you miss the deadline for a college application, look no further. Here, we’ll provide some encouragement and advice on how to move forward after a missed college application deadline

Don’t Panic

Whether it’s homework, an essay, or an application, missing a deadline can be a nerve-wracking experience. While some people may be aware of the situation ahead of time, most people are taken by surprise by missing a college application deadline. Students will frequently get bogged down by their current responsibilities, only to log into a college application portal to find that a deadline has been missed, and applications have been closed. The first thing you should do is to not panic! Missing a deadline is not the end of the road for you. Don’t do anything rash, like deleting the work you’ve put in so far, or complaining in a social media post. You may still have the opportunity to salvage the situation.

Instead of reacting out of frustration, first, try and determine why the deadline was missed. There are many good and bad reasons to have a missed college application deadline. For instance, you may have known the deadline was coming, and simply procrastinated until the last minute. You may have not begun the application until a few hours before its deadline, and were unable to assemble all the materials of the application—transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays, etc.—before the deadline. Or, due to disorganization, you may have completely lost track of completing the application and forget it under an avalanche of other priorities. In any of these situations, you’ll need to come to terms with your error and take responsibility for it.

On the other hand, there could have been a valid reason for missing an application. If you missed a college application deadline because of a technical error in the college’s system, this was outside of your control. Similarly, if you experienced a significant life event during the time of the application process, such as illness, or the death of a loved one, it’s understandable that the application fell by the wayside.

two students looking at paper

Reach Out 

Aside from being a good opportunity for self-reflection, the reason why it’s important for you to consider why you missed the deadline is because of our next piece of advice. If you’re serious about applying for this school or a specific graduation deadline, you should strongly consider reaching out to the admissions office for an extension. Whether by phone call or email, your goal should be to explain your situation, and clearly communicate why you should be given another chance. 

Now, depending on the school, you may not be granted an extension. A school with a very competitive admissions process may not be willing to grant you an extension. You should be prepared for this response. Regardless of how good a reason you have for missing the deadline, the school is not under obligation to graciously grant you an extension. Always communicate with your prospective or current college courteously and professionally. If they deny your request, you can still try to convince them to change their mind, but you’ll ultimately need to respect their final decision. 

For the right candidate, however, many schools will certainly consider offering a short extension to finish an application. The key is to communicate early after realizing you’ve missed the deadline, communicate clearly that you’re very enthusiastic about attending or graduating from their school, and communicate persuasively that you are a qualified applicant for their student body.

florida international university grad holding frame

Work Hard

At this point, you may be in a few different stages. If the college allows you an extension on your application, your next step is to work diligently until it’s completed. Extensions are not common for colleges to grant, so, if you’ve been given the opportunity to take more time on your application, you should be sure not to miss your deadline twice. If this school is one of your top choices, you should do everything in your power to complete this application on time. Missing a college or graduation application again, after requesting an extension, can reflect poorly on your application and may communicate to the admissions office that you’re not committed to their school. 

However, another possibility is that the college application deadline you missed wasn’t high on your list, and you decided not to pursue it further. Maybe the college denied your request to extend the deadline. In either of these situations, the unfortunate truth is that you will not be applying to this school, and therefore not attending there. However, there are still plenty of schools out there. Take this as a learning experience as you apply to other schools! While missing deadlines is unfortunate, it’s also common, so don’t let this setback get you behind. By staying organized and disciplined, and by doing a little bit of work every day, soon you’ll find the completed applications lining up.

It can be disappointing and disheartening to discover you’ve missed a college or graduation application deadline. However, there are still plenty of options still available to you. By taking stock of your situation, reaching out to your prospective college’s admissions office, and staying organized for future applications, you may still have a chance to apply to or graduate from your desired school. At the very least, you can learn from your situation and continue to apply to other colleges. You’ve put in hard work throughout your education, and your various applications will be no exception. Once you’ve completed your degree, you’ll be able to look back and appreciate the fruit of all your effort. To highlight your accomplishments, consider our collection of hand-crafted diploma frames, and start framing your diploma today!

Recommended Posts