College Decision Plans fall into three major categories: Regular, Rolling or Early. Early options include additional variations: Early Action (EA), Early Decision (ED) and Restrictive (or Single Choice) Early Action (REA).
The vast majority of students apply Regular Decision (RD). If there is not a compelling reason for you to apply under another option, RD is the plan you will likely use. Typically, the deadline for RD applications is in early January, though deadlines for many public universities can fall much earlier (UF is November 1st). Admission notifications occur by late March/early April. Accepted students must respond by May 1st.
Advantages of Regular Decision include:
- Unrestricted choice.
- Time to decide where you want to apply.
- Time to assemble a considered and strong application.
- Ability to submit your first semester senior year grades for consideration.
- Ability to take more standardized tests in November or December of your senior year.
- Financial aid and scholarship awards are available to help you make your decisions.
Most colleges that offer Rolling Admission (RA) don't offer other decision plans. Applications are accepted over a large time period that may begin as early as August, until all seats are filled. You are notified soon after your application is received. Your response is not required until May 1st. RA colleges believe they can assess qualified students individually rather than compare each student to the rest of the applicant pool. Since slots fill up, and in some schools, financial aid, merit scholarships, and housing choices may start to run low, it is strongly advised that you apply earlier in the process rather than later. If you apply earlier, your junior year record should be strong and your testing should be complete by the time of application
Early Admission Plans
About 450 colleges offer Early Admissions, either Early Action (EA) or Early Decision (ED) plans (some offer both). Under these plans applications are usually due from mid-October to November, and most notifications of acceptance, denial or deferral are received by mid-December. Deferral means your application will be reconsidered with the Regular Decision pool. *All Early Admission lists must be complete and submitted to the Pine View College Resource Office by the October 3rd Transcript Request DEADLINE.*
If you choose to apply early, it is advised that you not delay in continuing the application process for your Regular Decision list. If you are denied or deferred, you have approximately two weeks after notification in mid-December to complete your Regular Decision applications (most deadlines are January 1st).
Please note: *Regular Decision lists must be complete and submitted to the Pine View College Resource Office by the December 3rd Transcript Request DEADLINE.* You should therefore complete and submit your Regular Decision Transcript Request (the complete list of colleges to which you are applying) before you hear back on Early Action/Decision. If you are deferred or denied transcripts will be forwarded to your Regular Decision colleges.
“Early Action is like asking someone to prom. Early Decision is like asking someone to marry you.” - Duke University Admissions Counselor
Early Decision (ED) plans are binding, which means you commit to enroll in that school if you are admitted. You are allowed to apply early decision to only one college. If you are accepted you will receive a financial aid package offer around the same time, you must withdraw any applications already submitted and you may not apply elsewhere.
Because an ED acceptance is a binding commitment, this choice must be very carefully weighed. Involving your parents early in this decision process is critical as your family will not be able to compare financial aid packages or merit scholarship offers between colleges. If financial aid is an absolute need, it is not a good idea to apply Early Decision. You will be required to sign an Early Decision Agreement by the College to which you are applying, usually through the Common Application, as well as the Pine View School Early Decision Agreement.
Some schools offer two rounds of Early Decision (ED I and II). ED II deadlines tend to occur just prior to Regular Decision deadlines in January.
Early Action (EA) is the more flexible way to apply early. Almost all early action plans allow applicants to apply to other schools either early or regular. You will receive notification of acceptance, denial or deferral usually by mid-December. If you are accepted, you are not committed to enroll and have until May 1st to decide. This allows your family the ability to compare financial aid packages between colleges to which you are accepted. It is assumed that acceptance by an early action college represents a top choice on the part of a student, and therefore will necessarily reduce the total number of regular decision applications in January.
Restrictive Early Action
A few highly selective schools (notably Stanford, Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Georgetown and Notre Dame) employ "restrictive" or "single choice" early action policies (REA or SCEA). With these programs you are restricted from applying early decision or early action to other private universities. Note, however, there is no restriction regarding applying early to public or foreign institutions, as long as the application is non-binding. Make certain you check each school's restrictions carefully and abide by those policies (See Pine View Statement of Ethics in the College Planning and Application Process)
Advantages/Disadvantages of Applying Early
The advantages to applying early will vary from school to school and from one applicant to another. There may be an advantage at colleges who put great emphasis on their Early Decision admissions, i.e., select a significant percentage of their incoming class from their ED pool. This can be ascertained by speaking with respective admissions offices.
While it’s true that early applicant pools are smaller, students who apply early tend to have very strong profiles or belong to special circumstance groups that are priorities to the college. Applying early will not turn a weak candidate into a strong one, and such applicants tend to receive an early denial rather than an early admission or a deferral. These pools while smaller, tend then to be much more competitive.
Some argue that Early Decision II plans present some advantage in select cases as the application is often read before Regular Decision applications.
Should I apply early? Applying EA or ED should be a consideration only if:
- You have researched a number of colleges extensively.
- You have visited the colleges or have first-hand knowledge of the specific opportunities that would enhance your education.
- Because of your research you have zeroed in on one or two favorites.
- You meet or exceed the admission profile for curriculum strength, GPA and class rank by the end of your junior year.
- You have completed all testing requirements by October of your senior year.
- You have spent a considerable amount of time composing a compelling personal statement (starting the summer before senior year).
- Your requests for teacher and counselor recommendations are submitted at least one month prior to your early deadline.
- You are not applying early because all your friends are applying early.
Is Early Decision right for me? If, in addition to the points above:
- You have been absolutely sure for a long period of time (not just a couple of days) that this college is your first choice.
- You would attend this college over any others on your application list.
- You and your parents agree that you would attend this college even if other colleges offer you a better package or merit scholarship.
- You have visited the college, observed classes, and if possible, had an overnight stay.
- You are a person who has convictions about what is important to you and you do not have a tendency to change your mind impulsively.
Once again, please remember important rules govern the admissions process. Please see the Pine View Statement of Ethics if you have questions about your responsibilities.
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