Now that application season is here once again, it won’t be long before those deadlines approach. It is therefore appropriate that we understand the four different types of applications. They are Regular Decision, Early Decision, Early Action, and Rolling Admissions. By understanding the requirements and planning ahead a student can maximize their chances in the admissions process and hopefully have more options from which to choose.
Regular Decision means that the application and the supporting documents are due from November 30th to March 15th. However, most deadlines will be on January 1st, January 15th, and February 1st. There are no restrictions on the number of schools you can apply to and no commitment as to where you will attend. Admission decisions are made around April 1st with notification of intent to register due by May 1st.
Early Decision is designed for those students that are certain a particular college is their number one choice. Students can only apply to one ED school. They should have thoroughly researched and toured the campus. The student should be organized and ready to apply. That means that their standardized testing should be completed, essays edited, and their grades through junior year representative of the student’s ability. In particular, junior year grades are extremely important. As an Early Decision applicant, you sign a binding agreement that if accepted, you will withdraw the rest of your applications and enroll in that college. Your reward would be a substantial increase in your chance of acceptance. Some studies have shown that early applicants may increase their chances of admission from twenty to seventy percent. The advantage for schools is that it brings in students that really want to be there, makes it easier to meet enrollment goals, and improves selectivity and yield. The downside for applicants is that students do not have the opportunity to compare financial aid packages. For Early Decision 1, the application and supporting documents are due by mid November. Some schools may have a second Early Decision 2 date, which would be about a month later. Early Decision 2 may give an applicant a second chance at Early Decision if they have been rejected at their Early Decision 1 and receive notification of rejection in time to apply. Admission decisions are usually in December and can be accept, reject, or defer.
Early Action is different than Early Decision in that the student is not required to enroll. The student can also continue to apply to other schools. The student still needs to be ready and organized early in the process to get all documents submitted on time. That means that standardized tests need to be completed, essays finished, and grades submitted. The student can submit more than one Early Action and even an Early Decision. Applicants are usually notified of decision in December. Early Action increases the student’s chances of admission, although not as much as Early Decision.
Many universities also use Rolling Admissions. That means that they make a decision on an application as soon as the file is complete. These universities will continue to accept students until they reach capacity. Although their deadline is usually not until May 1st, it is in the student’s best interest to apply early.
What can you do if you are deferred from Early Decision or Early Action? That means that the university has not accepted or rejected you, but they have moved your application to the regular applicant pool. Here are some things you can do to increase your chances of being accepted in the spring. One, you should write a letter to the Admissions Office telling them that if accepted in the spring, you will definitely enroll. Keep in contact with the school and send them any updated information you have such as grades, test scores, awards, or honors. This will show your continued interest in the school and keep your name on their mind. Remember to keep your senior year grades up! They may request them.
If you have been admitted Early Decision or Early Action, it is a major accomplishment and something to be proud of. However, here is a word of caution. Do not let senioritis get to you! Your final semester grades are important. If they show a major decline from the rest of your transcript, a college could choose to withdraw their offer of admission. A personal or character issue from senior year might also be another cause for an offer of admission to be withdrawn. In summary, you should apply Early Decision if you are sure of your first choice school, plan early, and are organized. If you are uncertain of your first choice school, Early Action is a great way to go. Feel free to contact Pam at Helping Hand College Guidance if you have questions or I can be of assistance.