Ladies and gentlemen, I'm done. I'm done writing essays about how great I am, bugging recommendation writers, printing/copying/fretting about my sample, paying application fees, ordering transcripts and test scores, running to the post office, and stealing every possible extra moment of downtime at work to fill out forms and send e-mails. On Friday, I submitted the last of my application fees, and colored the last boxes on my spreadsheet to indicate 'completed' (yes, I have a spreadsheet that I maniacally color-coded for every possible thing).
Just for fun, I'll include some stats:
Number of schools applied: 15
Months spent researching and applying: 5
Number of schools that received official GRE scores: 11
Number of schools that received official transcripts: 11
Total cost: $1,385.14 (includes application fees, postage, printing, GRE fees, and transcript orders)
Average cost per school to apply: $75.71
How long I have to wait to hear back: Forrrreevvvvaaaahhhhhhh
So, I'm done. I think. After fifteen applications, all of which had completely different requirements for submission, I probably forgot something. Some schools wanted everything online (application, portfolio, letters of recommendation, transcripts, test scores, etc.), while others wanted all hard copies (and in certain cases, multiple hard copies) via snail mail. Others still asked for a combination of the two. Sometimes the different web sites for the school's Graduate School, English Department, and Creative Writing Program would contradict each other, and I would have to make my best guess or send an e-mail to the graduate office. With all that madness, there will almost certainly be items that come up "missing." I've heard the horror stories about admissions offices losing documents multiple times, or claiming that the applicant didn't send something at all. Hopefully, if they need extra copies of anything, it won't be anything that will cost money or require me to bother my recommendation writers again.
There is still plenty of work to be done. I have to follow up on anything that's missing, submit my FAFSA, and apply for scholarships. I have to get a list together of everything I haven't read and should before I go to school. I have to write, write, write every day in order to make myself worthy of this. And then I have to wait for about two months.
Ay, caramba. Two months.
My friend, who applied to law schools last year, says this is the worst part. I didn't realize how right she was until I finally finished everything. When you're caught up in the fever of the application process, you feel harried, but at least have some sense of control. If you're not happy with a submission, you have time to fix it. If you are worried about how you come off in a personal statement, you have time to change it. But once you drop everything in the mail and hit the 'submit' button on all the applications, you just have to trust that everything will pass through the right hands and be read by the right people (and hopefully with minimal laughter).
UPDATE: Less than two hours after posting this, I received my first rejection e-mail. Oddly enough, I feel more glad that I'm hearing something than I am sad that they rejected me. I wasn't surprised anyway - Washington University only accepts twelve (twelve!) students.