For rising seniors out there, ready for the college application, the official application for colleges starts in August. Now, as a disclaimer, from August to late January, seniors will have a daunting first semester and the application process. But, don’t worry, in the end, it is all going to be meaningful.
The first thing that all seniors must know is whether one will apply to an early decision or early action. Early decision deadlines are usually in November; students who use early decisions will hear back from a college sooner than their peers who turn in applications later. Early decisions admissions decisions often come out in late December. However, students should be aware that early decision acceptances are binding, meaning an applicant must enroll if offered admission. Some schools also have a second early decision deadline which is also binding. The difference is in the timelines. Early decision II deadlines are usually in late December, and early decision II admissions decisions often come out in February.
Early action is another type of application deadline that tends to be in late October or early November. Similar to early decisions, students who apply via early action will hear back from schools sooner than the regular application. The difference is that EA acceptances aren't binding, which means one does not have to attend the school one has been accepted, even if one gets accepted. Students can also use a school's regular decision deadline, usually around late December or early January. Students who apply for regular decisions hear back from schools in mid-to-late March or early April.
One benefit of applying early action is that it is a nonbinding option. Nonbinding early action is the norm, enabling you to apply to multiple colleges. Furthermore, it allows students to use and potentially gain admission to one or more schools much earlier than regular applicants. This also gives students time to compare financial aid offers from schools. Moreover, early decision and early action applicants are accepted at a rate 10-12% higher than regular decision applicants, which is a critical benefit for some eager to get admitted to their dream schools.