I just finished what amounts to "Phase Two" of the application process. I swore this time I would have it done faster than last time, but -- due to no fault of my own -- it took like almost three damn weeks to get it back in! I guess that's faster than my month from last time, but it's hard to feel at east with the passage of time when my recruiter is trying to get me into a position that might fill.
If you're planning on joining the Peace Corps, I can tell you how the application process works in a nutshell: there are approximately four phases, each with different requirements from you than the last. The first phase involves the initial application. This application is much like what one might fill out for any job -- vital statistics, work history, references. It also involves a questionnaire about one's volunteer history. Fortunately, I had a few volunteer positions to draw from, including most recently being a camp counselor in Hawai`i. The initial application also comes with a very detailed questionnaire about one's health, asking yes/no questions about heart conditions, skin conditions, diseases, surgeries, etc. etc. etc. The first time I applied to the Peace Corps this process was all done on paper -- and had to be TYPED. With a TYPEWRITER. Now they've got it all online, and the prospective applicant can easily bang most of it out in just an hour or two. What takes the longest are the two essays you have to write: one is about your reasons for joining the Peace Corps and another is about a time when you had a meaningful interaction with someone from another culture. For some, these essays take a while but I think I was able to write mine in about an hour and a half. What added to my time was that I felt I needed to include a third essay describing by reasons for quitting the PC the first time around.
Anyway, the second phase comes a few weeks later. Your application makes its way to the hands of a local recruiter, and he or she calls to arrange an interview and to start you on the next round of paperwork. This second packet contains a fingerprint chart, a couple pages to further clarify certain bits of information in the first application (like student loans and volunteer work), and most importantly, it contains forms for letters of reference. You need to select three people: A) a current boss, B) a volunteer supervisor, and C) a friend. There is a little leeway here, but you definitely need three. This is down a little from the four I had to do before (the teacher reference has been removed), and my recruiter says the PC used to require SIX! In my case, this packet also included a request for divorce information, primarily concerning alimony and division of property information, but fortunately I owe nothing (in fact, my ex owes ME money) and that won't be a problem. What sucked was waiting for the attorney to send copies of my divorce decree which, for some bizarre reason, I didn't have in my files.
What I can now look forward to is a medical and dental checkup packet, phase three, and then an actual invitation, which is phase four. Of course I'll expound on those as they come up.