Does “Early” Mean Better?

It used to be that colleges had one deadline. All applications would be read at the same time and colleges would send out their admission decisions. Now, there are several “early application” options. So should you submit early? What are the advantages and possible disadvantages?

Exploring the Differences

In order to make more sense of things, we have defined each application deadline below:

Regular: The college’s main deadline, which usually falls in the winter (January or February) of a student’s senior year. College applications are all read at that time and decisions are sent out a month or two later.

Early Action: In addition to a regular deadline, some colleges offer Early Action, which allows a student an earlier deadline, usually in November or December. This deadline is non-binding (more on that below) and you can typically apply to more than one school Early Action. Usually students hear back a little sooner, too, around December or January.

Early Decision: This is “the binding one”. You can only apply to one college under this admission policy, so it had better be an absolute number one choice because if you get in you have to attend. These deadlines are also typically in the fall of senior year and students hear back a month or two later.

Single-Choice Early Action: This one is not “binding” but the college with this policy asks that students not apply to any other colleges early. Not many colleges offer this option, but it can show a college how committed a student is to that school.

Rolling: This deadline means that applications are reviewed and decided upon as they come in. So generally speaking, the earlier the better to increase your chances of admission.


Advantages and Disadvantages

So, is it an advantage to apply early? The short answer is: usually yes. This can show a college how much you like their school, which they always love, and show that you have a full and complete application ahead of the normal schedule.

The only time it’s not an advantage is when students need more time to complete their application or to improve their academic record. For example, if a student had a tough time junior year, but is taking more challenging courses and doing better senior year, it would be nice to show colleges that information before they make their decision. So it could be an advantage to wait so colleges see first quarter and second quarter grades. And no college wants a rushed essay or application, so it wouldn’t be an advantage to submit a sub-par application in early.

All of these options and choices can be confusing, but Campus Bound is here to help! Get in touch for a free consultation to learn more about our services and learn how we can help you achieve your college goals.

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