Senior year is hard, and senioritis is real. College applications, typically due sometime between January and March, are at the top of our Procrastination Lists, but they aren’t the type of things you can afford to wait the night before to do. With early action/decision options, the application process can be over and done with by your Thanksgiving Break.
Students submitting applications early are generally very satisfied with their academic and extra-curricular work, and know they have good chances at getting into a post-secondary institution.
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However, there are other reasons for applying early. Honors programs or accelerated degrees (such as medical or dentistry) sometimes require an earlier application. Students applying early also receive better financial aid packages due to availability of resources and applicant interest.
Early Action vs. Early Decision:
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Many colleges have early application options that aim to reduce the stress of college apps while giving colleges a sample of upcoming applicants. Early action or early decision can both be useful for those with a desire to complete the hurdle of applications and shorten the wait-time of that fated acceptance letter.
Early action is similar to early decision in that it is an application during the early fall months, but without the hassle of a binding agreement. Those who are confident in their application and wish to get over the application process as soon as possible are encouraged to utilize this option, should it be available.
Those with a dream school in mind should look into early decision. Because it is binding—requiring your attendance should you be accepted—colleges will be sure to note your interest. However, once you are accepted with early decision, there is no way to browse other colleges and their potential financial aid packages.
A frugal student may consider other means of application. Acceptance rates may be different for early decision, as well. While there may be more competition due to the higher-achieving students that are also applying early, the college may accept more of these students than regular admission standards. Be sure to compare freshman acceptance rates of early decision and regular decision before applying.
The general deadlines for early action/decision are November 1st, with a decision within several weeks to two months. By the time your friends even apply to college, you’ll have already gotten your acceptance letters!
Remember, even if you are denied early, you still have an opportunity to apply in regular decision!