INSIGHT: College Early Application: Why or Why Not?

By Allison Luhrs, College Counselor

Many members of the Class of 2019 slept soundly this past weekend, knowing they had successfully navigated the November 1 early application deadline. Whether they were applying Early Decision (colloquially known as “ED”) to one college or Early Action (“EA”) to multiple institutions, they committed hours of effort to completing application forms, writing and revising personal statements, and insightfully answering additional questions in supplemental essays; their rest was well-deserved, and their sense of accomplishment should be strong.

Why do all that work when Regular Decision deadlines are not until January or even February? For many seniors, applying early is a good way to get the college application ball rolling. For those who applied Early Decision, they are signifying to a single school that if they are admitted, they will attend. In other words, they feel certain that the college is the right place for them, and they want to communicate their commitment with a binding agreement. That assurance to colleges often comes with a slight—and occasionally significant—rise in admissions rate.

But not all students can or should feel ready to commit to one school by early November. For those who are ready to submit applications but want more time to consider their options before committing, Early Action is the best choice. With EA, students ready all their materials and submit their applications early, but without the binding clause of the ED application. They receive admissions decisions early—usually just before or during Winter Break—giving them time to visit campuses, compare financial aid packages, and decide at a more leisurely pace where they will spend their next four years. Thus, the biggest benefit of EA is time.

While many EPS students choose to apply either EA or ED and should be congratulated for the hard work already behind them, most still have applications to complete between now and the end of the year. Regardless of whether students have submitted many applications or none, their college counselors are ready to support them—and eagerly await the day when we can congratulate all our seniors on the successful completion of their applications.