Early Isn’t Always Better

I catch myself saying it often to the students I work with, “Early is better!” And, for the most part, it’s true.  Admission rates are generally higher for students who apply Early Decision or Early Action, and there are many reasons for this.  One of the main reasons is because colleges like students who can show genuine interest in their school by either making a commitment or submitting their materials earlier.

However, early isn’t always better.  In this blog, we will go over a few key times when applying Regular is probably the better way to go.

Early Decision

When a student applies Early Decision to a college, they are making a promise to the college that, if accepted, they will go there.  And there are times, when everything lines up, that it makes sense for a student to make this kind of commitment: 1. It’s their absolute favorite school, 2. They won’t be disappointed if not given the chance to apply to any other schools, 3. The family can pay for the school. But, if just one of these things isn’t true, hold your horses!

Applying Early Decision may seem like a good idea, but when you consider the long-term implications, suddenly it might not make much sense.  The best course of action is for a family to sit down with a college counselor to discuss whether or not a student should apply Early Decision. That way, all of the possible outcomes can be explored in more detail.

Early Action

For the most part, Early Action is a good way to go. As mentioned above, it shows the college that the student is genuinely interested in the school, and allows the student the chance to submit their materials early. It also allows a student the opportunity to hear a response from the college sooner.  There really isn’t a downside.

However, there is an important time to hold off.  If any of the student’s application is not complete, or would be more complete given more time, it can make sense to hold off and apply Regular.

Some examples of this are: a senior didn’t do very well on their first term grades, but second term grades are much better. It might make sense to hold off and apply Regular, when the college can see those improved grades. Or, if a student has an ACT or SAT score they aren’t excited about, they may want to wait, take the test again and try to score higher and then send those (hopefully) higher scores later by the Regular deadline.

This is another example of why meeting with a college counselor is essential.  Together, we can weigh the pros and cons of each situation and decide what makes the most sense.

As stated above, applying early is usually a helpful strategy in the college admission process. However, every student’s situation is different, and it’s important not to take these decisions lightly. A college counselor can help students and families work out the pros and cons of each situation and make an educated and thoughtful decision. Contact us today if you think a college counselor could help you.

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