If you are a high school senior, you will start sending out college applications before you even realize it! Now, most of you may be sending out applications in late December/January to apply through a college’s regular decision program. In these regular decision programs, you will hear back from schools in late March/April which is standard. However, did you know that many colleges also host early admission programs where colleges accept or decline you by mid December before regular decision applications are even due?! Well in this post I will go over a broad college application timeline and the three types of early admission programs that exist.
Senior Year College Application Timeline
First Semester Senior Year
Beginning of November: Most early admission applications due
Mid December: Most early admission decisions sent out (If you get into a college that you commit to at this point in mid December, the rest of the timeline does not apply to you!)
Late December/January: Most regular admission applications due
Second Semester Senior Year
Late March/April: Most regular admission decisions sent out
May 1st: Deadline for you to commit to a college/future home!
3 Types of Early Admission Programs
1) Early Decision
In short, you should apply to a school early decision if it is your absolute favorite college. This is because early decision programs are binding. Binding means if the college accepts you in mid December, you have to commit to that school.
If the college lets you in early decision and you violate the contract by proceeding to apply to other schools, the college will notify the other schools and prevent you from getting in anywhere else. Early decision is in this way a big deal. The only exception to getting out of the contract is for proven financial issues.
Obviously if the college doesn’t accept you early decision, the contract becomes null and void. Subsequently, you will proceed through the regular admissions process that most people go through and apply to all the other colleges that you are interested in late December/January.
2) Early Action
Early action is mostly for the sake of hearing from certain colleges earlier than late March/April. This is because early action is non-binding. Just because an early action college accepts you in mid December does not mean you have to commit.
Early action programs give you a decision in mid December and if you get in, you don’t have to respond until the May 1st deadline that applies to regular admission programs. However, if the early action school just happens to be your first choice than you can also commit then and there in mid December!
The non-binding aspect of early action is also nice because it means you can apply to as many early action colleges as you want. The more you apply to, the higher your odds that you’ll already have college choices by the end of your first semester senior year!
3) Restrictive Early Action
Restrictive early action is the same as early action in that it is non-binding. Even if the college accepts you in mid December you do not have to commit. However, unlike early action where you can apply to as many early action colleges as you want, restrictive early action requires you to only apply early action to the one college. As a result, restrictive early action doesn’t have the same benefit as early action where you may have multiple college choices by mid December.
In conclusion, I hope this post was helpful and helped broaden your college application horizons. Now it is up to you to research colleges you are interested in and see if they offer any early admission programs. Good luck!