If you hadn’t already guessed, there is a lot to think about when it comes to early applications in the US. There are a lot of competing deadlines, rules and regulations to be aware of. To help cut through of the complexity, here are 5 key takeaways about early application that you and your students need to know.
1. Early Decision is binding, Early Action is not
This will affect which early application path a student takes, and will also have a knock on effect on any other college applications students might be considering. An Early Decision application is a binding commitment, whilst an Early Action application leaves a student’s options open.
2. Colleges have different types of Early Action
Remember our old friend Restrictive Early Action? For some universities in the US, students are only allowed to apply to that one specific institution through Restrictive Early Action. But don’t worry, an application made through REA isn’t binding (are you still with us?)
3. Colleges like students to apply early, but it doesn’t increase chance of acceptance
For universities in the US, having two application deadlines can help with recruitment – it gives them a better overview of what kind of student candidates are out there and helps universities to tailor their classes and courses to the needs of different student cohorts.
So an early college application will be welcome, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. As we’ve covered in this article, an early application must ultimately be guided by a student’s grades as well as their own academic and personal preferences. These are ultimately the factors that govern whether a college application is successful or not.
4. One Early Decision offer means one financial aid offer
When you think about it, Early Decision isn’t just an academic early decision – it’s a financial one too. If ED students are offered a scholarship or some kind of financial aid, then this is the only financial aid package on the table.
This is why students need to thoroughly research financial aid options for their chosen Early Decision college. If you are working with students who are applying through Early Decision, they need to be in contact with the financial aid office at their preferred institution in their junior year (Year 12/lower sixth).
5. Research is vital
It’s been the vital theme running through this article. A strong Early Decision/Early Action application is only possible if a student has thoroughly researched their chosen college. Why are they a good fit? Why does it have to be this university and why now?
So there you have it.
Getting college application out of the way early doesn’t always guarantee peace of mind. Perhaps more than any other component of the university guidance process, an Early Decision/Early Action application will add more complexity, and require a long-term, strategic approach.
As you work with your students on their US applications, it’s important to impress on them that earlier isn’t always better.
If you’d like to know more about how to help your students with their university research, including useful questions they should ask themselves as they research a potential Early Decision/Early Action university, download your free copy of our latest New Counselor’s Survival Guide.