Early Application Process

Applying Early to College

When you apply early to a school, you are moving up the entire application process. Instead of submitting your application in November of your senior year, as recommended in the previous Timeline for Seniors link, you need to begin the application process in September and plan accordingly from that start date. While procedures at individual colleges may vary, the two most common procedures are Early Decision and Early Action. In addition, some schools have both procedures. If you have a strong interest in a particular school, you should contact that school well ahead of September to inquire about its early application procedures, the advantages and disadvantages, and to see if applying early is the right decision for you.

Early Decision

If you have a particular school in mind that is clearly your first choice, an early decision might work well for you. If you apply early to the school and you are accepted, you are committed to attending that school unless its financial aid package is not sufficient to meet your cost of attendance. If the financial aid package is not sufficient, make sure you have time to submit applications to other schools.

Early Action

This is similar to Early Decision in that students are allowed to apply ahead of time, but students are not committed to attend the school upon acceptance. Schools have different rules as to whether students can apply to more than one early action school; if you apply under this option, make sure you know the rules for each school you are interested in. Since there is no commitment by the student, there is little incentive for an early action college to accept the applicant.

Make the Right Decision for Your Needs

Early application programs are designed for students who are confident in their academic qualifications and who are confident in choosing a particular school. You can make the early application process work best for you by doing these basic things:

  • Sit down with your high school guidance counselor, who can explain to you the implications of applying early to certain schools.
  • Ask yourself: Am I ready to make up my mind where I want to attend by October of my senior year? Will I be able to complete my applications, along with the essays I will need to write and the recommendations I will need to include by November?
  • Make sure you have sound reasons for wanting to attend the schools you include on your list (this school has an excellent journalism department, this school has an excellent mix of cultural and academic offerings).

Early Admission

A third option, Early Admission, is for high school juniors who have most of the credits needed for graduation. If you are at this level, you might want to apply to take college level courses at a community college, for example during your senior year. The plan then would be to transfer the credits for those courses to the four-year school of your choice later on. You should work with your guidance counselor to see if this would be a good option for you.

The information on this site was produced by the US Dept. of Education and has been compiled by the site owners. We are not responsible for accuracy or completeness. Site design (c)2007 giantific.com

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