early decision

It's Decision Time for Early Applicants

We're pleased today to host Ingrid Hayes, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, to talk about applying early! Read on for Hayes' advice about what students should consider in applying early and her thoughts about whether or not applying early creates an advantage for students.


Attention seniors:  Early admission deadlines are fast-approaching, and it’s time for you to make one of the first major decisions in the admissions process.


Applying early is a great option if you’re sure about which college you want to attend, but it’s critical for you to do your due diligence in researching colleges and visiting campuses before deciding to apply early. 


Does applying early increase my chances of getting accepted?


In my 20 years of experience in admissions, I’ve noticed a lot of students assume an early plan will give them an advantage, especially if they feel that they’re closer to the lower end of the competitive profile for a school. Many national statistics show higher early acceptance rates and that may pique your interest to apply early. The question of “does applying early increase my chances of getting accepted?” is one that I get often, and the answer is yes and no depending on the school. Students should ask the school directly what might be the benefits of applying early.


Early Notifications: What to do next if you're accepted, deferred or denied

It's decision time for students who have applied early action (EA), early decision (ED)  or restrictive early action (REA) with the news soon to arrive via email or snail mail. Once you receive your notification, there are still some steps to be taken. We've outlined these next steps for students under every scenario -- acceptance, deferral or denial.  

What We Talk About When We Talk About College

Jane Kulow joins us again this month with her heartfelt insights into the college application process as her daughter contemplates the meaning of commitment and applying early decision.

 What we talk about when we talk about college:  a decision.

"Do we talk about anything other than college these days?"

Our daughter, Julie, asked me that over dinner last weekend, before adding, "It's okay, that's about all I'm thinking about anyway."

Early in the morning, two days before that dinner, Julie and I set out on one more college visit. I cannot say that will be our last campus visit, but it is the last we will undertake before she submits her first application.

Julie revisited this campus with a number of questions in mind:

Seniors: Questions you Should Be Asking if You're Thinking of Applying Early

If you are thinking of applying under an early action or early decision plan, we have some questions for you to consider as you decide what might be right for you. The more yes answers you can give, the more applying early might be your best approach.

If you’re considering early decision, start here and work your way through all the questions below:

• Of all the colleges on your list, is this the school where you would unquestionably enroll?

• Is your first-choice school an environment that fits you well, but also a place where you can change and grow?

• Have you felt the school where you are going to apply early decision is your first choice for more than a few days or weeks?

• Do you and your parents agree that if you are given a reasonable financial aid package, you will attend the school even if other colleges were to offer you stronger financial aid packages or a merit scholarship?

If you’re considering early action or restrictive early action, start here:

• Do your junior-year grades and classes support an early application, relative to the philosophyn and practice of the college to which you’re applying?

• Have you completed all standardized testing by October of your senior year?

Seniors: Does the early bird always catch the worm?

There can be a lot of pressure to apply early at this time of year -- from peers, parents and media. Students start thinking that they must apply NOW under an early action or early decision plan.  Before you succumb to that pressure, spend some time understanding how decision plans really work, what the numbers in the headlines actually mean, and whether it's a good idea for you personally. Check out the Decision Plan Chapter Excerpt on the Book page here on the website to understand how your grades and scores could figure into a decision to apply early and benefit from the input on decision plans from the deans at Johns Hopkins, Drake University, and Northern Illinois University, as well as others.

2013 Colleges with Early Decision Plans

For eighteen years, high school counselor Cigus Vanni has created and maintained a series of lists that are great tools for students -- and counselors. Today, we're featuring 2013 Colleges and Universities with Early Decision plans. Early decision (ED) plans are restrictive -- they place conditions on the student restricting them from applying to other schools or committing them to enrolling. Under early decision plans, students apply to only one ED college and sign a binding commitment to enroll if accepted. Applications are submitted early, usually in November, and notification usually occurs in December.

Resource Lists for Students and Counselors

For eighteen years, high school counselor Cigus Vanni has created and maintained a series of lists that are great tools for students -- and counselors. These lists track schools that require two teacher recommendations; schools in the U.S. that offer non-binding Early Action admission plans; schools in the US that offer binding Early Decision plans (with annotated crossovers, designations for restricted plans and tagging of schools that offer both EA and ED); and mid-50% SAT ranges for more than three hundred U.S. schools.  We're delighted he is back again to share his 2013 lists with our readers. Because of the length of the lists, we'll be featuring them as separate posts over the next few days. Up first: Schools that offer binding early decision (ED) Plans.

Laura Stewart, Ensworth School

Laura Stewart, our March Counselor of the Month, had both a unique opportunity and challenge when she joined the college counseling program at Ensworth School, an independent college preparatory high school in Nashville, Tennessee. For 46 years -- since 1958 -- the school had served only elementary and middle school students. Then, in August, 2004, Ensworth added grades 9 through 12, opening the new 127-acre Devon Farm campus one month after Stewart joined the school as Assistant Director of College Counseling.

Over the next five years, Stewart rose to become Director of College Counseling -- in 2009, one year after Ensworth School graduated its first senior class. As a result, she has had the opportunity to participate in building a counseling program where there were no preconceived ideas. As Director, she has been able to establish policies and procedures that reflect a philosophy with her own creative stamp and then watch the program grow. "It's hard for me to imagine being anywhere else because I've been so fortunate to get to do what I want," says Stewart.