Types of Admissions Programs
There are three types of admissions programs: rolling, regular, and early.
Some colleges have no deadlines but accept applications on a “rolling” basis and read applications as they are entered in the system and this is usually done throughout the year from September until their freshman class is full. Therefore, the earlier you apply, the earlier you hear. Notification will depend on when the application is sent. (Sometimes priority is given to early applicants.)
Most students will apply to schools under a Regular Decision program. Regular decision means that students need to apply by a certain deadline, often around January 1, but the due date could be as early as mid-December and as late as mid-February. Students who apply regular decision will be able to submit their fall grades and more standardized testing results (if needed) as a part of the application package. Students who apply under the regular decision guidelines will receive decisions by April 1 in most cases.
Early Admission Programs
Colleges have a variety of early admission programs. These are programs in which one applies early and receives a reply earlier than candidates applying under regular admission. It can be beneficial if a candidate applies early, but it is not always. There are a number of factors to consider (e.g., whether your seventh semester grades help your chances of being accepted, if the early applicant pool at a particular college is more competitive, if you need to take more tests). If you are considering applying under an Early Admission program, discuss this with your college counselor; careful planning and organization is essential.
- Early Decision: A plan under which students submit an application (usually by November 1 or November 15) and make a binding commitment to attend that college if accepted. If not accepted, applicants are sometimes put into the regular applicant pool and reconsidered for acceptance, or outright denied. Colleges will usually notify their applicants of the decisions by December 15.
- Early Action: A similar plan to Early Decision, but under this plan, the student is not required to commit to attend the school if accepted. The student still has until May 1 to decide to attend if accepted. EA can relieve a great deal of tension. It can also help you gauge how schools view your application.
- Early Action Single Choice or Restrictive Early Action: Schools have different EA policies. Some allow you to apply to other EA schools and some will only allow you to apply to one EA school. The latter plan is know as Early Action Single Choice or Restrictive Early Action.
NOTE: Because each school's plan and philosophy are slightly different, it is important to read all of the requirements and program stipulations carefully.