Why does everything have to be so darn complicated? A few months ago we went over all the different major application companies and now I have to confuse things further by talking about the different priority dates.
There’s some good news and some bad news. Bad news first? As with so many other things schools all set application dates separately and many seem determined to come up with their own lingo to talk about it. I’ve seen more combinations of the word “Early” with some synonym of “deadline” then I’d care to admit. Early Action, Early Answer, Early Decision, Priority, Rolling, Regular Decision, MEGA ULTRA AHEAD OF TIME APPLICATION DOMINATION (ok, I may have made that last one up).
Ready for the good news? Here it is! This is all way less complicated than you think. Despite all the crazy names there’s only a few actual categories of decision deadlines. Let’s break them down:
- Early Decision: This is the big kahuna. You are only permitted to apply Early Decision to one school and this will mean the same thing for any college offering it. Applying ED requires you to sign an agreement that if admitted you commit to attending this college. Wait, what? What if I can’t afford it? What will happen to me if I break the rules? Should I apply ED to my first choice? Unfortunately, I don’t have time to answer all that here. Call me and we’ll talk.
- Early Action/Answer/Priority etc.: Any other deadline that signifies you as applying before the bulk of students is really just a way for you to demonstrate your interest in a school. And that is a good thing. Always. Apply this way everywhere you can. And bonus: these students often don’t have to wait as long for a decision as everyone else. Winning!
- Regular Action/Decision/Admission: This means you’re lumped in with all the other riff raff. The difference between this and the proceeding option is this type of school waits until everyone applies by a certain date, reads all applications at once, and then issues decisions in bulk.
- Rolling: The distinction here is that this school will accept and read applications any time throughout the season until the deadline. They won’t wait to receive all applications to review them; they render decisions as they go. This means you’ll often hear within a few weeks of applying. You guessed it, the earlier the better is the way to go!
So that’s it! There is a hidden message here peeps. If you happen to be or you happen to parent a senior in high school, THE TIME IS NOW! Schools are allowed to set deadlines as early as October 15th, so put the pedal to the metal! And for Juniors and younger, be sure your positioning yourself to plan ahead. I like all my seniors to have their applications DONE before the school year starts. Imagine being able to sit back and enjoy the school year while waiting for the acceptance packets to arrive!
Admissions Abridged distills news and trends from the college admissions world to provide college-bound students and their families with helpful tools to approach the application process.
Kate Balboni has earned a Master’s in School Counseling and is a certified New Jersey School Counselor. She has served as an admissions counselor for Drew University and as a regional admissions coordinator at the University of South Carolina. During her time in Undergraduate Admissions she has reviewed thousands of applications and student essays, conducted hundreds of student interviews, and has visited over 50 college campuses throughout the nation. Kate is the owner of Balboni College Advising, a concierge college consulting service, providing one-on-one guidance and counseling throughout the college application process. For more information please visit www.balbonicollegeadvising.com
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