Benefits and Downfalls of Applying Early

Around this time of the year, almost all seniors face the difficult decision of applying early. There are two kinds of early applications: early decision and early action. Each offers its own benefits and drawbacks, and making the right decision can be crucial in determining a student’s future.

Early decision applications are binding; students who are accepted through early decision must attend the college they applied to early. Early action applications are not binding; students just receive an earlier notification of their acceptance status than do students who apply through regular admissions. 

Early decision applicants apply usually in November to one college, usually their first choice college, although they can apply to other colleges under regular admissions. When applying, the student agrees to attend the college and to withdraw all other applications if accepted. Early decision applicants tend to receive notifications of their college status by December.

Early action applicants also apply early and may also apply to other colleges under regular admission. Whether accepted or not, the applicants must give their college choice by May 1. Early action applicants receive their notifications in January or February .

There are many reasons for applying early. A student who has thoroughly researched colleges and has found his or her dream school while meeting the admission profiles may apply early to reduce stress and save time. Since students find out faster of their acceptance, they have more time to prepare for their college such as boarding. They also save time and money since they do not have to apply to any other college. On the other hand, if the student has been deferred or rejected, they have time to reevaluate themselves and apply elsewhere.

There are still many drawbacks to applying early. In most cases, students have difficulty committing to a single college, so there is pressure in deciding where to apply early. Students also face the infamous Senioritis if accepted early. Upon learning of their acceptance, students have a tendency to work less hard for the rest of the year due to the feeling of their goals being accomplished. In addition, despite having the chance to become accepted early, there is also a chance to become rejected or deferred. Once being notified in mid-December, non-accepted students will only have about two weeks to finish and send other applications if they have not done so already.

There is also the widely held belief that applying early increases the chance of acceptance. In almost all colleges, this is not true. Proportions of admitted early applicants vary from school to school, and the slightly higher admission rates of early applicants most likely result from stronger profiles and résumés among these candidates.

Early decision and action plans contain many benefits for students, yet they pose problems if not handled in the correct manner. The best way to decide would be to talk to your school counselor and carefully consider college options and apply early only if you have an obvious preference for one school.

About the Author

Woong-Soo Lee, Staff Writer
I think math competitions are amazing.

1 Comment on "Benefits and Downfalls of Applying Early"

  1. Maureen Schandert | September 22, 2009 at 9:05 am |

    As a parent with one child graduated from college and another a college freshman, we have certainly been through the application process. From our experience, I believe this is a well written article with very good points as to the pros and cons of the admission process. I hope students read these articles and understand the differences in the timing of the various types of application and really think before pursuing any specific course of action. Well done!

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