You may be the type of student who’s excited about the college admissions process; you enjoy writing your personal essays, you look at each form you fill out as putting you another page closer to starting a new chapter in your life. If you can’t wait to find out where you’re going, or if you have one school you absolutely know want to attend, you may be able to take advantage of an early decision or early action admissions program.
Or you may be the type of student who, although you’re looking forward to the end result of going to college, you’re overwhelmed by the application process itself. If you get tired just at the idea of filling out form after form, you may benefit from a rolling admissions program or from the time-saving Common Application.
As you start the college admissions process, NextStudent Loans, a leading Phoenix-based education funding company, encourages you to look into all your application and admissions options to find the one that’s right for you.
The Common Application
Available in an online and print version, the Common Application allows you to fill out one single application that you can submit to any of the over 300 participating schools. Like any other application that looks beyond just grades and test scores, you’ll need to submit a letter of recommendation and a personal essay.
All member schools in the Common Application consortium give the same consideration to the Common Application as to their own school-specific form. If you’re applying to schools that accept the Common Application, by using the Common Application, you could save yourself the time and work of filling out multiple applications and writing multiple essays.
The sections of a Common Application include:
- Personal Data: Provide your general contact information and possible career or professional plans
- Educational Data: List your schools attended, additional programs, and coursework completed
- Test Information: Give your standardized tests scores
- Family: Provide contact educational background information for your legal guardians
- Academic Honors: List your scholastic distinctions beginning in 9th grade
- Extracurricular, Personal, and Volunteer activities: Detail your participation in music, sports, family activities, and any other hobbies of interest to you
- Work Experience
- Short Answer: Elaborate for 150 words on your personal activities
- Personal Essay: Choose from six essay topics, including a topic of your choice
While most schools have hard deadlines, where applications are only accepted until a defined date and reviewed all together, schools that offer rolling admissions review applications as they come in and continue to accept applications until they fill their freshman class. Some schools may institute a rolling admissions process after their hard deadline has passed, if they haven’t yet filled their incoming class.
- You may be able to get an earlier decision the earlier you apply
- You may have less competition the earlier you apply
- If you’re applying late in the admissions season, you may still be able to get in
- You’re not restricted to applying to just one school
- The later you apply, the fewer openings are available, so the more competitive the process tends to get
- The later you apply, the less financial aid (grants, work-study, student loans) may be available
- Some schools may require you to make your decision within a certain time after being accepted, which could eliminate your chance to weigh all your options, depending on how early you applied
Early decision and early action programs, offered by most of the top schools in the country, allow students to apply earlier than the standard deadline and receive a decision early. Early admissions deadlines vary by school but usually fall by end-of-December at the latest.
Typically, schools with early admissions programs accept a high percentage of their early applicants; these accepted applicants tend to make up 25 to 50 percent of all first-year admissions.
If you’re not accepted under an early admissions program, the school may choose to roll your application into the standard admissions pool for reconsideration with the standard deadline applicants.
Early decision requires you to commit to the school you’re applying to: If you’re accepted under a school’s early decision program, you’re required to withdraw all your other applications. Schools honor their fellow schools’ binding decisions, meaning if you try to back out of your early decision acceptance, other schools may not accept you, unless you can prove your financial aid package was insufficient.
Early action programs allow you to apply early to multiple schools, but don’t require that you commit to only one school. If you’re admitted under an early action program, you’re not required to attend, and you can still wait for the outcome of your other submitted applications.
Single-Choice Early Action
This program works the same as early action, but restricts you to applying early to only one school rather than multiple schools.
NextStudent believes that getting an education is the best investment you can make, and we are dedicated to helping you pursue your education dreams by making college funding simple. Learn more about Student Loans, Private Student Loans and Student Loan Consolidation.