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Class of 2019

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2018 Newsletter Archive

What You Should Do NOW: 
Determine When You’ll be Applying to College

Which college application deadline works for you?

As your senior year approaches, you should determine which of the two big college application deadlines you want to apply to–the early or regular decision deadline.
 

Early Decision

This college admission's process requires applications to usually be submitted between November 1 and December 1

Early Action

This college admission's process requires applications to usually be submitted between November 1 and December 1

Regular Decision

This is the time frame where most students submit college applications – usually between January 1 and February 1

Rolling Admissions

This college admissions process enables colleges to evaluate applications as they come in and accept until all their spots are filled.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Early Decision, Early Action, Regular Decision, and Rolling Admissions Deadlines

Early Decision

If you choose the early decision college admission’s process, you’ll hear back from the college earlier, but if you’re accepted, you must withdraw all other applications and attend that college.

If you decide to withdraw without a good reason to do so, colleges view this as a violation of trust and honor, and this may hurt your other college offers.

What are Early Decision I and Decision II deadlines? These indicate varying times in which early decision applications are due.

Advantages

  • Your application will be seen by admissions sooner
  • You're competing with fewer applicants
  • You'll know sooner if you got accepted

Disadvantages

  • You can only apply to one early decision school
  • If accepted, you must attend
  • You cannot compare financial aid offers

Do This If

  • You've done extensive research on that college and know for certain you want to attend
  • You're not relying on financial aid

Early Action

Early action deadlines are similar to early decision deadlines in that you apply in the fall and hear back earlier. However, you don’t have to decide to attend until May and can decline without repercussion.

Advantages

  • You can apply to other schools simultaneously
  • You don't have to accept until later
  • You can compare other financial aid offers

Disadvantages

  • If you're not accepted, there's little time to submit to regular application deadlines at other schools.

Do This If

  • You're sure about the schools in which you're applying, but want to keep your options open
  • You want to compare financial packages from other schools

Regular Decision

“Regular decision” deadlines are due in January or February, and offers of admission are sent to students in March or April. This is when a majority of other students submit their applications. You are under no obligation to enroll if you are accepted, but most colleges want to know of your decision by May. Most colleges will adhere to this deadline.

Advantages

  • More time to submit applications and achieve higher ACT scores for additional scholarships
  • If you're undecided about where to go, this will give you more time to think it over
  • No pressure to commit early if accepted
  • Again, you can compare your financial aid offers from other colleges

Disadvantages

  • You will not hear back from colleges until later in the spring
  • This is a busy time of year for you with graduation plans, exams, and other commitments on top of applications
  • Everyone else is submitting their application at this time, so it might be harder to stand out

Do This If

  • You want more time to submit applications and achieve higher ACT scores for additional scholarships
  • You have a few schools you're interested in attending
  • You want to compare financial aid offers
  • You're not sure of the major you want to pursue

Rolling Admissions

Some colleges use a rolling admissions program, meaning a large window (usually a six-month period) for applicants to submit their applications. Instead of submitting an application to a particular deadline and hearing back during a specific time, colleges evaluate applications as they come in and accept until all their spots are filled.
 

Advantages

  • You can apply to other schools simultaneously
  • You don't have to accept until later
  • You can compare other financial aid offers

Disadvantages

  • If you're not accepted, there's little time to submit to regular application deadlines at other schools.

Do This If

  • You're sure about the schools in which you're applying, but want to keep your options open
  • You want to compare financial packages from other schools

Which Deadline Will Give You an Advantage?

Among the most popular colleges, the average acceptance rate for applicants who applied to early decision and early action was about 68% compared to a 51% acceptance rate for applicants who applied to the regular decision deadline1.

That’s a difference of 17%.

So, the numbers imply that there is an advantage to applying early, which is good news, but make sure you know all the college’s early admission requirements and conditions. You may be obligated to attend if you’re accepted.

1Information sourced from US News and World Report

Learn how to submit a strong application that colleges will love, with the help of this ultimate guide!