To Apply Early or Not, That is the Question —
Approximately 450 colleges in the US offer early admission enrollment. Cynics say they don’t do it out of the goodness of their heart, but that it increases their yield and thus their all-important rankings. Higher rankings mean more applications. A school that declines a higher number of applications is statistically more selective. The more selective it is, the more some people are convinced that it THE school to go to. Therefore, more students apply and the schools rankings shoot upward.
Colleges are essentially businesses, the sooner they can fill their seats, the more assured they are of continued economic stability.
Who should consider early admission?
Students who have carefully studied all available options.
Students who are looking for a particular academic, social, geographical, and academic environment which they think exists most perfectly at one particular school.
Students whose test scores, GPA, academically rigorous coursework, personality and community involvement meets or exceeds the median of accepted students.
Types of Admissions:
Early Decision (“ED”): a binding contract where if the school accepts the early application, the student agrees to attend. Students may apply regular decision at other schools. Financial and merit awards sent with acceptance offer. Decision given in December. Students have a limited amount of time to agree to enroll.
Early Decision Deadline: Varies by school, typically Nov. 1
Early Action (“EA”): a non-binding application indicating that the student really, really wants to go to this school. The school’s decision will be given around December, but the student has until May 1 to accept or decline. Students may apply regular decision at other schools. Financial and merit awards sent with acceptance offer. Acceptance offer typically given in December-February.
Restricted Early Decision and Early Action: Same, plus students promise not to apply early to any other school.
Schools use either EA or ED, not both
Regular Admissions: Follow normal deadlines with submission between October through March.
Regular Admissions Deadlines:
California State University (CSU): Applications accepted between Oct. 1 through Nov. 30. No early admissions. Application offers: mid-March
University of California (“UC”): Applications accepted between Nov. 1 through Nov. 30. No early admissions. Application offers: mid-March
Private Schools and non-California state schools: Varies by school. Applications accepted November through March, most have deadlines in January and February. Application offers vary: February through April
Does early admission work for your student?
Middle class and lower income students should be very careful with ED. With the limited decision time allowed, the family will not be able to compare financial and merit aid offers from other schools. Higher income students should also be aware of the inability to compare merit offers.
Acceptance rates for early admissions are usually higher, and some schools admit up to half of their freshman class this way. However, the students applying early tend to be very highly qualified with higher GPA and test scores. Therefore, even though the acceptance rates are higher, there is more competition in the early admissions pool.
Some schools aware that early admissions favor students who are not dependent on financial or merit aid, are beginning to change from ED to EA, or to revert to regular admissions. There is a current discussion in the admissions community over this issue. Remember, the large number of applicants and the public’s focus on rankings encourage schools to continue or institute ED programs.
Getting a decision around the winter holidays can either be a wonderful stress reliever or stress-causer. Student depending on the early admission with have to scramble to meet regular decision deadlines. All students who apply early should complete “back up” applications to other schools.
Many students sincerely suffer from “dream” school rejection. Even the most optimistic student can feel crushed. This all takes place in the midst of the anxiety, change, and turmoil of senior year. Carefully consider whether your student understands that application decisions ARE NOT PERSONAL. Schools decline to offer enrollment for a large variety of reasons.
There are no “absolutely perfect” schools that will meet and exceed a student’s every wish and expectations. Remember, it does not matter as much where you go to school, but what you do when you get there.
Get Smart, understand the admissions options and choose the ones that works for both the student and the family.
For a more in-depth article, check out the latest blog post at GetSmartforCollege.com