One of the most confusing aspects of the college admission process is deciding whether to apply Early Action, Early Decision, Single Choice Early Action or Regular Decision.
Throw in Rolling Decision and Scholarship Deadlines and this time of the year becomes of blur of never-ending deadlines. Which means high school seniors are frantically writing essays, rushing to get those applications submitted soon.
But, you ask, aren’t college applications due around the first of January? Why the rush?
Because applying early, under any of the above options, is often a very good idea. It can give you an applications edge, sometimes a very significant one. And it can put you at the front of the line for that all-important scholarship money.
In fact, it is the single best reason that juniors should start to research colleges now. So they can have a chance to visit schools during this school year, and put together their list in time to make the most of early admissions options.
Let me explain……..
Single Choice Early Action – SCEA – used by Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Yale. This is non-binding, meaning that if the student gets accepted, they aren’t required to attend the school. The student still has until May 1 to commit. Does it increase the odds? Yes – here are some examples from 2014:
Early Decision – ED – used by many top-tier schools like Columbia University, Brown University, Northwestern University, Williams College, and Whitman College. This application is binding, meaning that if admitted, the student agrees attend, unless the financial aid award is insufficient. Does ED increase the odds? Yes – and in some cases the difference is quite dramatic. Here are some numbers from 2014:
Early Action – EA – used by a number of schools, most prominently MIT and University of Chicago. In general, students can apply to multiple schools using EA. At some schools, the best scholarships are only available to students who apply EA. This is a situation where reading the fine print can really pay off.
One thing all of these options have in common – students need to be ready to apply early. That means you need to have all your testing completed, and essays polished in time to meet the early deadlines, which can be anywhere from October 15 to December 15.
To help with that, my next College Essay Workshop for high school seniors will be Saturday, November 7, from 3 – 5 pm. During this workshop we will do some group brainstorming exercises and read and listen to example essays. If you have come to one of the previous workshops, there will be quite a bit of new material. This workshop will be good for those who are just getting started on their personal statements and for those who are hard at work on supplemental essays. The cost for the session is $150 (free for those who are on my Comprehensive Package). To sign up, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Teri Thompson