Senior year is thought of as the best year of high school; however, with all of the fun comes a great deal of stress. The first few months of senior year are especially stressful if you’re applying early to college: the November 1st deadline is already upon us! While applying early has its perks, some people apply early for the wrong reason. So how do you know if you should apply early? We can’t make the decision for you, but we can show you the pros and cons of applying early. Read on to learn about key things to think about before submitting your application.
Early Action versus Early Decision
First of all, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into before you apply early. Although they sound similar, early action and early decision are very different. Colleges usually have one or the other so find out more about the school you’re interested in by talking to a college advisor or checking out their website.
With early action, you find out if you’re accepted in mid-December, which is earlier than regular decision. Applying early action isn’t binding, which means that you don’t have to attend that school if you’re accepted. You can apply to multiple colleges with early action and you don’t have to make a final decision until May 1st!
Early decision is much more serious than early action: it’s a binding agreement. You can only apply early decision to one school, so choose wisely! Like early action, you find out if you’re accepted in mid-December. If you are accepted to that school, withdraw all of your other applications and buy a bumper sticker for your car because that’s where you’re going! The early decision agreement is not usually binding if you are deferred (you haven't been rejected, but your application will be reviewed along with the regular decision applications), which means that your application will be reviewed again with the regular applications and you will know if you’re accepted in April. Before you apply early decision, double check the school’s deferral policies.
Why Do People Apply Early?
While most people apply early to college because they truly love the school, some people apply early because they want to get done with the process sooner. When Jamie, a junior at George Washington University, began the application process, she did not want to wait months to find out where she’d attend school. “I decided to apply early originally because I wanted to know where I would be going,” says Jamie. “I hate waiting.” Although she fell in love with GWU, you shouldn’t apply early decision unless you’re one hundred percent sure that college is your first choice.
“A student should only apply early decision if they are sure that the college or university is their first choice and they are confident that they will thrive there,” says Susan Tewksbury, a guidance counselor at John Jay High School. “They should not select this application deadline as a way to shorten the application process.”