At times, you’ll be faced with uncertainty about how to complete parts of an application or about whether you’ve followed the proper protocol for processing. This is especially true for students who must submit material online or in pdf form (sometimes without acknowledgment of successful transfer of material), and for those who, even after considering the relevant material elsewhere in this chapter, choose to leave something blank or incomplete. Here, the help of an academic advisor, scholarships director, or a staff member at the target program is in order. Assuming you’ve done your best to follow directions and research your options, there is never harm in a focused e-mail or phone call to a staff member to decide how to handle an uncertainty or check on a submitted application’s status.
As a final assurance regarding this topic, I’ve known students who have been accepted to grad school even when their application did not include the required number of reference letters, when they sent an application in a word processing program forbidden by the target program, and when they took the chance of leaving some questions unanswered. In all these cases, the students either felt that the risk they took was unavoidable or they checked with an authority about how to handle the circumstances. By taking small risks or admitting uncertainty, we sometimes gain exception.