Applying early to universities significantly increases the chances of getting admission and it also conveys to the college/university that you are very serious about studying there. Many colleges let the applicants submit their applications early, but early application policies vary from school to school. There are several factors to consider when making the decision to apply early to your choice of school. It’s important to know the benefits and disadvantages of applying early to colleges/universities. Here are the options for applying early to universities:
Early Decision (ED)
The early decision program is binding, which means the student who gets accepted as an ED applicant needs to withdraw all other applications that are applied under regular deadlines and attend the college. It is one of the most restrictive early admission programs, wherein you can apply to only one college. The deadline for applying through the ED program is often in the month of November and the results are announced by December. Applicants who are not accepted under the ED program due to eligibility criteria, will either be deferred or be rejected. Students in the deferred category are considered during the regular admission process and the ones in the rejected category are not allowed to apply again that year. Students with strong academic merit who have already decided on a college regardless of the cost, should consider applying through ED. This program is very beneficial for international students, as it gives them ample time to prepare for relocation to another country and helps them avoid the second-semester transcript.
Early Action (EA)
Early Action program is non–binding, which means the student who gets accepted through this program need not immediately commit to attending the said college and can defer the decision till the month of May. Since this program allows students to apply to multiple colleges, it is one of the most attractive options for them. This program is very useful for international students as they can compare various options, work out financial aid arrangements and also get enough time to prepare for relocation to another country. The deadline for the EA program and the ED program is usually the same.
Single Choice Early Action
The single-choice early action program is also non-binding, allowing students to defer the decision till May in case they get accepted through this program. Students can apply to only one college through this program, but they can apply to other colleges through non-binding regular admission programs. This restriction in a way conveys to the college about the student’s pointed interest in their college/course. This program is recommended for students with strong academic merit who have already decided on a particular college but are unsure about whether the university’s financial aid package is within their budget or not.
Colleges Like Early Applicants
Colleges typically prefer filling more and more early applicants in their classes because such early applicants are assumed to be motivated and organized. Since they have to get their applications ready by the beginning of November or earlier, it reflects very positively on the student’s commitment towards and interest in the college/course.
Advantages of Applying Early to Universities
- It will reduce stress as you don’t have to wait for a long time for the decision
- You will have more time after getting accepted to look for housing and prepare for college
- You can reassess options and apply elsewhere if you do not get selected
- It improves your chances of getting admitted during the early admission process
- It shows your interest in a college
Disadvantages of Applying Early to Universities
- Under the Early Decision program, students must attend the college if they get accepted, which puts tremendous pressure on students to explore all their options and make a serious decision
- If students are applying under the Early Decision program, then they will have reduced financial aid opportunities and hence won’t be able to compare various financial aid packages
- These students need to have their application polished two months earlier than the regular admission period students
- If students are planning to give SAT or ACT exams after October, it will probably be too late for their consideration if they are applying early
- Many students apply early to get an off on the competition by using the early application options. Some of such students might feel that their goal is already accomplished and have no reason to work hard for the rest of the year. For this reason, some universities have eliminated early applications and use only one deadline for all prospective students.
The admission process is easier if candidates apply according to the program’s rules and regulations. If you have all the prerequisites for admission such as strong academic background, have already decided on the college you want to attend, and can also afford the tuition fee, then go ahead and apply for the Early Decision program. But if you’re uncertain about any of these factors, then you’re not alone! You have more options available like applying for Early Action, or by the regular deadline.