Should I apply early to college?

Applying early to your top school can be a good idea for many students, but it’s not always the right decision for everyone. There are many factors that can and should influence your decision to apply early. Read on for some tips on how to decide!

You should NOT apply early if:

  • You are considering re-taking any standardized tests after November 1.
  • Your grades from senior fall will strengthen your application. If you didn’t have a stellar academic record junior year, but your grades are on the upswing, you might want to wait to apply on the regular application cycle, so that admissions officers can take your senior year grades into account.
  • You could use a little more time to polish your application essay.
  • You think a recommendation letter from one of your current teachers could be stronger than one from any of your junior year teachers. If you want a recommendation letter from a senior year teacher, you’ll want to wait until that teacher has gotten to know you, which probably means waiting until after November 1.

You SHOULD consider applying early if:

  • You’ve gotten all of your recommendations from your junior year teachers.
  • Your application essay will be not only finished, but edited, polished, and reviewed by November 1.
  • Your junior spring test scores are strong enough that you do not plan to re-take any standardized tests.
  • You are certain that the school you are applying to is the one you want to go to. In order to determine this, picture yourself several years down the road: What is the ideal environment that you are living and working in? Does it match the school you’re considering? Below are some smaller questions to ask yourself to help determine whether or not the school you’re thinking of applying to is the right one for you:
→ Does it have departments, professors, and resources (libraries, sports teams, housing) you’re interested in?
→ Does it offer extra-curricular activities that you are excited to join, whether it be the newspaper or the ultimate frisbee team?
→ Does it offer the appropriate financial aid or funding plan to allow you to complete your course of study?
→ Is the culture of the school one you feel comfortable in?

If your answers to these questions are yes, and you’ve covered all of the practical concerns, then applying early sounds like a good idea.

If you do decide to apply early, the best-case scenario is that your application is accepted, of course! But just in case, keep working on your grades and other applications throughout the fall so you don’t fall behind if you have to apply for regular admission.

Remember that each school has its own guidelines for early applications—and some don’t accept early applications at all!—so be sure to check out the exact policies for each school you’re interested in applying to. It is a great idea to consult a guidance counselor, parent, or Signet Education consultant if you have any questions. We’re here to help!

Need help applying to college? We’re here to help!