Applying Early

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:

Dr. StrangeCollege Has Help for Common App Woes...

Dr. StrangeCollege, aka Jane Kulow (one of our favorite guest bloggers), has some straightforward, actionable advice on her blog today for students who are applying early and experiencing struggles with the Common Application -- "Got Common App problems? Here's what we're trying." Her three-point plan includes advice from Virginia counselor Nancy Griesemer, who has been on top of the Common App complications from the beginning, as well as a link to our real-time digital supplement on how the application form works, including the August changes to the Common Application. (Available as a free download here, too.) It also includes our most well-loved advice: Check the website of each college to which you are applying. Many schools are pushing back early deadlines or offering alternatives such as the Universal College Application or paper submissions.

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?

2013 Colleges and Universities with Early Action Admission Plans

We're back today with high school counselor Cigus Vanni who for eighteen years has created and maintained a series of lists that are great tools for students -- and counselors. Earlier this week, we posted his list of 2013 Colleges and Universities with Binding Early Decision Plans. Today, we are featuring 2013 Colleges and Universities with Early Action Plans. 

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.

Did Early Decision Fill Most of the Seats for the Class of 2017? Do the math...

This time of year brings a slew of headlines trumpeting the arrival of decisions for those who applied under early action or early decision plans. But if you're a student who opted to take advantage of the additional time afforded by applying regular decision instead of applying under an early plan, you may feel you have cause to worry.

Among the stories about the record numbers of early applicants, here's one of the media's favorite memes every year: “The college you’re applying to has filled half its freshman class with early decision applicants!”

If you've read headlines like this and worried there won’t be enough room left if you are applying under regular decision, throw that thought in the circular file underneath your desk along with other forms of media madness.

This is a case where the numbers can be deceiving.

The question is not how many seats are being taken up in the class by applicants who applied under early decision. The question is, what percentage of the school’s total admission offers is already gone? It sounds incredible, but it’s true that even when half the seats are filled with ED applicants, fewer than half the acceptances have been given out.

Early Decisions: 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.  

Students admitted under early decision (ED), early action (EA), or restrictive early action (REA):

Congratulations! First let us say we're so happy you will have one more thing to celebrate over the holiday break! Once you catch your breath, here are some steps to take:

Early Action and Restrictive Early Action

EA and REA programs are nonbinding and students have until May 1 to inform the college whether they will enroll.

  • If the EA or REA school where you have been admitted is your first choice, you may want to inform them of your intention to attend and withdraw any applications to the other schools on your list.
  • If you are not sure you will attend the EA or REA school or your family will want to review and compare multiple financial aid awards, complete the applications to the other schools on your list. (See the note on financial aid later in this post.)

Early Decision

ED programs are binding and students must enroll if accepted.

Trophy hunting...

Before we exit the subject of early admission this week, we'd like to leave you with a final thought in this excerpt from our book: Students: Do the Right Thing! You have applied under early action, rolling admission, or restrictive early action and you’re in. Congratulations. We now encourage you to do the right thing. If you know you will not enroll at some of the other colleges on your list, don’t apply to them. Go back through that original list and cross off those schools. Or, if you’ve already sent in your applications, let those colleges know your plans. Don’t collect trophies in the form of admission letters from colleges you will never attend. There are some exceptions to this rule. Some colleges very much want to make their case to you even if you have been admitted to another college under rolling admission, early action, or restrictive early action. If there are schools on your list you can still imagine you might attend, feel welcome to keep your options alive provided you are open to the case those colleges will make. And if you need to compare financial aid or merit scholarship awards, you will definitely want to proceed with applications to the other schools on your list. As you can see, this isn’t simple. But matters of integrity rarely are.