Tag early deadlines

Do early birds really have an edge in admissions?

Do early birds really have an edge in admissions?  The answer is often yes!  The purpose of submitting an application to a college early is to indicate your top preference for that college or a small group of colleges.  Colleges appreciate knowing you are likely to enroll if admitted. With Early Action and Early Decision, you hear sooner whether you’ve been accepted to your “dream” school” and there is often a significant admission advantage to applying early.   

What is the difference between the three early application types? 

  • Early Action is a plan offered by colleges allowing students to apply early and receive an admissions decision earlier than the regular decision dates. Early Action is typically non-binding (i.e. you are not required to enroll if you are accepted) and you may submit early action applications to more than one school. You can apply regular admissions to any other colleges. 
  • Restrictive Early Action (REA) “restricts” you from applying to any other school under an early action or early decision plan. With REA, you may only submit one early application, however the admission decision is non-binding (you are not required to enroll if you are accepted). In this case, you should decide if this college is your “Dream School”.  If Yes – apply using the restrictive early action plan. If No – apply regular decision so that you may submit early applications to other schools that are higher on your list. You can apply regular admissions to any other colleges. 
  • Early Decision is the most restrictive of all the early plans.  Students may only submit one Early Decision
    application and if you are admitted, you are committed to enrolling at the college.  If you are accepted early decision, you must also withdraw your applications to any other college you’ve applied to.  

Why Apply Early? 

There are advantages or disadvantages to applying early. However, the following table shows an advantage in admissions when applying Early Decision at some of the top universities in the country.  If you have a school that clearly stands out as your “Top Choice”, it may be wise to apply Early Decision to gain a better chance of admission.

Financial Aid 

You can now submit financial aid forms starting Oct. 1, using last year’s taxes.  This gives colleges an opportunity to consider your financial aid or merit awards along with your admissions decision.  Often students who apply early are offered more financial aid. 

Take Action 

GuidedPath is designed to help you maximize early applications.  To manage Early applications: 

  1. Set up your application plans. For each school, decide which type of application you will submit – Early Action, Early Decision or Regular Decision.  
  2. Remember – you may have only one Early Decision or Restrictive Early Action application.  Be sure that school is your first choice.

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Early Application Deadlines

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!   

Take Action 

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.

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