Early Action or Early Decision: Last-minute Help for Seniors

Early Action or Early Decision Last-minute Help for Seniors

Application deadlines for Early Action and Early Decision are right around the corner, and many seniors and their families are feeling the pressure to apply.

After all, applying early increases a student’s chance of getting accepted to their dream college or university. . . right?

Not exactly.

Before you scramble to finish those college application materials, take a moment to better understand some of the nuances of Early Action and Early Decision.

The Truth About Early Action and Early Decision

While the statistics suggest that applying early means students have a greater likelihood of being accepted to a college or university, the truth is a bit more complex.

Early applications usually come from well-prepared students: those with high test scores who have spent their summers toiling away on their applications and who feel 100% confident in their choice of school.

Without more specific information on early-admitted students, it’s hard to say whether they would have been accepted in the regular admissions pool or if the odds were tipped in their favor because of the early status of their application.

Furthermore, it’s important to remember that colleges and universities are businesses that have priorities like any other. They are incentivized to boost their rankings, and admitting a larger proportion of students from early applicant pools helps them accomplish that goal. In other words, it’s no wonder schools accept large proportions of students from these pools.

When It Makes Sense for Students to Apply Early

So, how do students know if applying early is right for them?

The simple answer is that students should consider applying early if they are 100% certain they want to attend that school.

The real goal here is for students to make a decision that genuinely serves them, rather than giving in to the pressure of guidance counselors, college admissions representatives, and other influences.

Preparing for Early Action or Early Decision

Whether your student is applying Early Action (i.e. non-binding application) or Early Decision (i.e. binding application), the preparation process is the same. Here are our suggestions for students:

  • Start, well…early. Applying early requires a student to finish their consideration process and finalize their application 2-3 months before a Regular Decision applicant. That means your student should already have SAT or ACT test scores ready for submission, as well as essays and other application materials heading into the final stages.
  • Stick to a schedule. Write it down, make a Google Calendar, set up iPhone reminders: whatever your students needs to stay on task, do it—and stick with it. Encourage your student to be as productive as possible, but be sure they also take breaks as a reward for meeting their goals. It’ll help keep their motivation up!
  • Don’t be afraid to pump the brakes. Remember that Regular Decision is still always on the table. Your student should be honest about the work they’ve produced leading up to the Early Action or Early Decision deadlines. It’s better to submit a fantastic application for Regular Decision than to apply early with a rush job.

The college admissions process may be the single most challenging part of high school. If your student needs extra support, let one of Signet’s admissions consultants be the expert in your corner.

Contact us today to speak with an admissions consultant who knows the college admissions process inside and out.

Picture of Sheila A.

Sheila A.

Sheila Akbar is President & COO of Signet Education. She holds a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Harvard University and two doctoral degrees from Indiana University. She joined the team in the summer of 2010, bringing with her a wealth of experience teaching SAT, ACT, GRE, literature, and composition in both one-on-one and classroom settings.

More Resources