Although senior year may be just getting started, college application season is already here! Many colleges are accepting applications even now, and some have deadlines as early as mid-October. Should you apply now? It’s important to know the different types of college deadlines so you can map out a timeline for your applications.
Here are some definitions:
Early Decision (ED): This is the most restrictive type of early deadline. You may only apply to ONE college under an ED deadline. If you are accepted, you guarantee to the college that you will enroll at their school. Once admitted as an ED applicant, you are required to withdraw your other college applications. ED can give you a significant advantage in the admissions process, but it also means you commit to enrolling before you’ve been able to compare financial aid and scholarship offers from other schools. Use an ED application only if the school is absolutely your first choice and financial aid/scholarships are not a deciding factor for enrollment.
Early Action (EA): Somewhat similar to ED, Early Action deadlines give you an admission advantage (colleges usually admit a higher percentage of EA students compared to Regular Decision) but without the commitment required by ED. If you are accepted as an EA student, you will still have until May 1 to decide if you want to enroll giving you plenty of time to compare scholarships and financial aid from all the colleges that have admitted you.
Restrictive Early Action (REA): (also known as single-choice early action) In this case, you can apply to only ONE school as a REA candidate (no other ED or EA applications) but if admitted, you are not required to enroll. Just like with ED and EA, you get an admission advantage by applying early. Using a REA deadline also indicates to the college that they are your first choice (because this is the only school that you’ve applied to as an early candidate).
Priority Deadline: This term is used by many state colleges and public universities. It’s very similar to Early Action – advantage in the admissions process but a non-binding admission decision.
Rolling Admission: With Rolling Admission, you can apply anytime through a designated time period and the colleges review applications roughly in the order in which they are received. Therefore, the earlier you apply in Rolling Admission the better chance you have of being admitted.
Regular Decision: This could also be considered the final application deadline. Generally speaking, the Regular Decision deadline is your last chance to apply to the college.
As the saying goes – the early bird gets the worm! Applying early can give you a definite advantage in the admission process and it’s great idea to get those applications checked off your list early in senior year!
Use the College Deadlines page under the Application tab in Guidepath to view all the deadlines available at each college on your list. For each college, select which deadline you plan to apply by and add these dates to your calendar.