Timetables for Application
Once upon a time, filing college applications was a relatively straightforward and uniform task. In the past ten to twenty years, however, a great variety of application programs have emerged. Listed below are explanations of a few of these:
Although with this program there may be a date after which applications are not accepted, students apply throughout the fall and winter. Decisions are made by the admission office on a “rolling” basis and replies are sent out generally within four to six weeks of receipt of a completed application. As with regular decision, admission comes with no obligation to attend.
Under early decision plans students apply by an earlier deadline than the regular decision date. For instance, November 1 rather than January 15. Under this plan students receive their decision late in the fall. Offers of admission are generally binding, and accepted students are obligated to attend that institution. Applications to other colleges cannot be made after acceptance under this program. Consequently, students apply Early Decision to a school only when they are certain it is their top choice, and after considering how this will affect other possible factors like financial aid packages.
Identical to early decision except that the decision is not binding. Students may be accepted under an early action plan and continue applying to other schools. However, there are a few schools that have adopted a restrictive early action plan that does not permit early applications to other schools until after a decision has been rendered.
“Early” application programs have exploded in popularity, but the great majority of students are still admitted through the regular decision process. Before you commit to any obligation at any school, make sure it is truly your top choice. Too often students exclaim, “I am definitely applying early, I just don’t know where.” It is a mistake to take this approach. Remember, the vast majority (usually around 75-80%) of any class will not commit to any final college choice until spring of the senior year. We believe this is often in the best interest of the student. Weigh your options and share your thinking with your counselors.