With the release of the 2013–2014 online Common Application last week, now is a good time for high school seniors to start thinking about their timeline for college applications.
Applying early can have a major impact on your college admissions results. So before you decide to do so, you need to understand the different programs, as well as the implications of choosing to participate in one or more of them.
Basically, there are four kinds of early application programs:
In this non-binding program, you apply by the 1st to 15th of November and receive an admissions decision by the middle of December. A few colleges offer EA-II, with a due date sometime in January and admission notice about six weeks later. You can be admitted, deferred, or denied admission. If admitted, you don’t have to reply until May 1 of the following year. EA colleges do not have any restrictions regarding how many other early applications you submit.
Also known as Early Action, Single Choice
This is another non-binding program used most notably by Stanford University and Yale, where you apply by November 1 and hear back from the schools by the middle of December. Like EA programs, you can be admitted, deferred, or denied admission. The difference between REA and regular EA is that you may not apply Early Decision to other colleges, though some REA colleges allow students to apply EA and/or Rolling Admissions to public institutions. Check with admissions offices to learn more about each college application policy. If admitted, you don’t have to reply until May 1 of the following year.
In this binding contract application program, you apply by the 1st to 15th of November and receive your admissions decision by the middle of December. A few colleges offer ED-II, with a due date sometime in January and admission notice about six weeks later. You can be admitted, deferred, or denied admission, but, if you are admitted, then you are legally bound to attend that school. You may not apply Early Decision to any other colleges, but may be able to apply EA, EA-II, ED-II, or Rolling Admissions to other colleges, depending upon their individual application policies.
Some colleges offer freshmen applicants this application program, in which applications are accepted, evaluated, and decided upon as they are received (from as early as September until a final deadline sometimes as late as the following summer). Whenever you are accepted, you still have until May 1 to decide whether or not you want to attend the school. You can also apply early to any other colleges you like.
College applications don’t need to be stressful.
Check out adMISSION Possible for a step-by-step guide to earning your acceptance letter.
Here are some important implications of applying early that you should be aware of:
If you’re a little overwhelmed by all this, take a deep breath, spend some time identifying the colleges you like best, determine if they offer an early application program and which type it is, evaluate the pros and cons of applying early, and then decide if an early program is a good choice for you.
Stuck on your application essay?
Check out Fiske Real College Essays That Work to find inspiration from more than 100 real essays that got students accepted to their top-choice schools.