Early Decision – Ready to Commit?

collegeIf you’re a high school senior this year you might find yourself surrounded by the stress of applying to colleges. Finding colleges you want to apply to is one thing, but figuring out when to apply is a whole other ordeal. I wanted to run through the three common application types and deadlines, and offer my own personal story and recommendations.

Early Decision – The deadline for the application is typically in November, and students find out in December about whether or not they’ve been accepted, denied, or waitlisted. This choice is significant because it is binding; by applying ED you are agreeing to attend the college or university if they accept you and provide a financial aid package adequate for your family. This is a great option if you are 100% sure of where you want to go to school, but it doesn’t allow you to compare financial aid packages from different institutions.

Early Action – The deadline is typically in the late fall, and students find out their application status sometime in the winter. EA is not binding, so you can apply to as many schools early as you would like. This is a great option if you’ve completed all components of your application early in the fall, and also have a solid idea about which schools you want to apply to.

Regular Decision – The deadline is usually in January, with students notified sometime in April about acceptance, denial, or waitlisting. This option is great because it gives you more time to visit schools before applying, as well as more time for SAT/ACT testing and essay writing.

I ultimately chose to apply ED, as I was positive as to which college I wanted to attend and was fortunate to have parents who agreed to support my choice. I encourage people to apply early if they feel ready, because it made my winter and spring a lot less stressful. That being said, finding the right college is a hard and long process. It is critical that you take your time to feel comfortable and confident with your application.