From the search to the application, the admissions process contains all sorts of choices. Sitting down, preparing to type up the application, it seems that all the decisions already have been made.
However, there remains one simple, yet weighted, question: Should you apply early admission?
Types of Early Admission
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There are two types of early admission options: early decision and early action. Most schools offer one or both.
While early decision and early action are similar in terms of benefits, early decision comes with some added strings attached. Applying early decision means submitting one application. If accepted through the early decision process, the student agrees to enroll in that college.
Before applying, the student and his/her parents sign a binding agreement stating such. Therefore, early decision carries with it heavy commitment, something you and your family will have to come to terms on.
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On the other hand, early action possesses no such agreement. This application is not binding. The pressure of such a commitment as in early decision is not applicable.
In the case of single-choice early action, the process is similar to early decision in that you may only apply to one school. But in ordinary early action, students are free to apply to multiple schools early.
Review the colleges you are considering to decipher the difference.
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Making the Decision
1. You must be 100% sure you want to attend the school.
Even applicants of early action should abide by this. Binding or not, the early admissions process is designed for dedicated students completely in love with their choice.
Backing out of the decision, though not unheard of in the case of early action, wastes your time and defeats the purpose of applying early.
2. Research the benefits.
Applying early may increase your chances of acceptance. Look at recent profiles of classes from the school and see if acceptance rates are higher during early admission.
Talk to an admission counselor from the school to get an inside look on their means of processing early admission applications.
3. Rejected? Big Deal!
You still have the time, due to the earlier deadlines of early admission to look for more options. For someone who likes to have a back-up plan, this is a plus.
4. Accepted? Great! You’re done!
The rest of your senior year is free for more fun things. You don’t have to apply to multiple schools or deal with that added stress. Now you have first pick for room and board options, too.
5. Make sure you crunch the numbers.
Applying early admission means you don’t have the luxury of comparing financial aid offers.
Consult the college’s financial aid office, research scholarships, and check out the net price calculators. Talk to your family to see if it seems affordable.
6. Doubts for any reason? Regular decision is better for you.
Early admission leaves no room for error. So if you’re banking on an unlikely financial aid package, if you’re only pretty sure it’s the school for you or if you’re doubting for any other reason, apply regular decision.
Knowing now the commitment it takes to apply early admission, the decision should be easy. If the answer doesn't come readily, apply regular decision. However, if the financial and educational commitment doesn't worry you in the slightest, early admission is a great option.
Make the decision that is right for you and your family and don’t stress over it. It will all work out in the end!