Once your list is ready, it is important to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements of each college before filling out applications. After carefully researching colleges and making a college list, it is important to consider the available admission plans and application requirements of each college.
Selecting the Right Admission Plan(s): Regular Decision, Early Action, Early Decision
Below is a review of the general definitions of the various
admission plans available to college applicants. Options vary depending upon the college so it is essential to know the details before making an informed decision.
Regular Decision: Students apply by the ‘regular’ deadline which is typically between January 1 and March 1st except for the UC/CSU systems which have a November
30th deadline. Colleges usually notify students of decisions between March and April. The deadline for students to commit to a college(SIR Deadline - Student Intention of Registration) is typically May 1st. This time frame is meant to allow students the opportunity to compare financial aid offers from colleges in the spring before making a commitment.
Note: UC/CSU systems (except Cal Poly San Luis Obisipo that offer an Early Decision option) do not offer any options other than their ‘regular application’ process. Many colleges have some type of early admission plan for students to consider. Applying to colleges ‘early’ means that a student may apply by an October/ November deadline and receive an admission decision by December. This is appealing because the process ends much earlier than if you applied as a ‘regular’ student when students typically receive admission decisions from colleges in March and April. Of course, it isn’t quite as simple as that – there’s more to the process.
Early Action (Eary Action non-binding): Early Action is the more flexible of the ‘Early’ options. Students who apply to a college under EA (Early Action) are guaranteed an admission decision early(usually by mid- December) and this option is non – binding. This allows more flexibility in that accepted students are not committing themselves to a specific college. Under these plans, you may apply to other colleges and choose a school to attend by May 1st just like regular decision applicants.
Single-Choice Early Action/Restrictive Early Action: This plan works the same way as other early action plans,except that students may not apply early (either Early Action or Early Decision) to any other school; they may only apply to additional colleges under regular decision.
Early Decision (ED, Binding): Early Decision plans allow students to apply early (the deadline is usually in October/November) and receive an admission decision from the college well in advance of the general notification date (usually in December). Part of the application process requires students to sign a statement that they are knowingly making a commitment to attend the campus should they be accepted and that no other applications will be submitted to other colleges using an ED (Early Decision) program. There is a catch: Early Decision plans are “binding,” meaning that if accepted, students are obligated to attend that college and must withdraw any other application that may have been submitted. Although students may apply to only one college for Early Decision, the option to apply to additional colleges as a regular admission candidate still exists. Usually, colleges insist on a nonrefundable deposit well before May 1.
Advantages of Early Decision:
• ED (Early Decision) Admission rates may be higher than the regular admission pool. This is particularly true of the most selective colleges.
• Students who apply “early” can submit transcripts which list grades through the end of junior year. Such students are typically particularly strong applicants. Colleges like to use their ED pool to get the
strongest students they can to commit to their school.
• Students who apply “early” have done their homework and met or exceeded the average requirements for admission.
• Student athletes may be invited to apply “early” to their top choice school to demonstrate their commitment to a college coach who can request special consideration for specific applications in the admissions process.
Disadvantages of Early Decision:
• ‘Binding’ a student to one particular college may be too restrictive. If accepted, the student has committed to attend the college and withdraw all other applications. It is a legal agreement.
• There is no opportunity to consider other options including financial aid packages.
• It is uncommon for a student to be prepared to fully commit to one college in the Fall of senior year without the opportunity to consider other options.
Possible outcomes of Early Decision:
An early decision/action applicant can receive one of three outcomes in December:
• Admit: the student will be bound to attend the college.
• Deny: the student is not accepted to the college.
• Defer: the student is NOT denied and will be reconsidered for admission with regular decision applicant pool using their 7th semester transcript.