Example B: Sending your essay the wrong way, in the wrong format, to the wrong place, to the wrong person, etc.

Back in the days when we required our scholarship applicants to send in paper applications (we now do it all via email), we posted a very clear statement in the instructions: “Please do not send your essay via signature-required delivery.” By signature-required delivery, we simply mean when places like FedEx, UPS, DHL and the U.S Mail make you sign for a delivery. If this sounds unimportant, believe me, it’s not.

Remember that many scholarship programs get thousands and thousands of applicants. We understand that you’d like to make sure your essay arrived safe and sound, but there’s a reason we prohibit this: If even a few students per day require signature delivery on their application, then that’s several daily interruptions for the unlucky soul who’s getting the applications. Imagine if every day, DHL rang your doorbell at 9 a.m. and made you sign for three envelopes, and then at 1 p.m., UPS rang your doorbell and made you sign for three more, and then at 2:30, FedEx came by and made you sign for five more. And then, worst of all (big surprise here) is the U.S. Post Office. If a signature delivery is sent to a PO Box (which is often the type of place we like to have you send your scholarships, to separate them from other business at our workplace), then you actually have to take a number and stand in line to retrieve the mail. If you live in a rural area, this is not a big deal; however, if you live in anything even close to a large city, you know that these lines can easily spell a 30-45 minute wait. Sometimes longer.

So, to recap: sending signature-required mail equals a DHL visit, a UPS visit, a FedEx visit and a possibly maddening visit to our local post office. Every…single…day, until the application period is over. Remember Rule #2, Judges Are Busy People. Sending signature-required mail when you’re specifically asked not to is a sure way to get your application discarded. As for our company, we simply stopped signing for the packages, and therefore they were either sent back or discarded by the delivery company.

7 thoughts on “Example B: Sending your essay the wrong way, in the wrong format, to the wrong place, to the wrong person, etc.”

  1. another anonymous

    I still don’t understand the whole signature-delivery process BUT it doesn’t matter because I send applications by regular mail (the address indicated to send to AND a U.S. stamp or two of them depending on the mail-weight limits)
    [?I guess I don’t understand because I’ve been living in the U.S. for 6 years now?]

  2. Hi, Anonymous. Here’s the deal on signature-delivery: basically, you pay your shipper (Fedex, UPS, USPS, whoever) extra to *require* the recipient to sign for it. Then, of course, the sender is notified that yes, in fact, the document was received because someone signed for it. That’s how it works in a nutshell. Thanks, and good luck!


  3. "another" anonymous

    Thank you, Josh, for explaining.

    I,now, understand the signature-delivery process for general knowledge purposes.

  4. Judge Josh,
    What about sending applications by delivery confirmation or certified? Both methods allow a sender to look on the USPS website and see if and when that item is delivered, but neither require a signature by the receiver? Thanks!

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