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Applying Early 101

September 28, 2017

We all have a little procrastination in us. Whether it’s dawdling on that English essay, or waiting to take out the trash, there are always moments when we’d rather just not.

Applying to college should not be one of those occasions. Nearly every college or university on your list will provide ample opportunity to get things in early—and they’ll be happy to tell you about it. Just by checking the application deadlines at each of your schools, you’ll start to get a good idea of how most admission offices feel about early admission. We like it. A lot.

And you should too, for a whole bunch of reasons. Every admission counselor worth their salt can recognize an application that’s thrown together in the closing minutes of a deadline. It’s that essay that hasn’t been looked over, that extracurricular field that hasn’t been filled out, or that application that, well, just never ends up dropping into our box in time. Big red flags.

So it makes sense that the best way to fight the tardiness, the rushed appearance, and the stress, is to get it in early. There are, however, a few different kinds of early application:

Early Decision: Early decision is the best-bet for the student head-over-heels in love with a school. ED is binding, which means that your dream school is giving you a chance to raise your hand early and get everything out of the way. It says to the college or university, “I want you,” and hopefully, they’ll say, “We want you, too!” Sewanee has two ED deadlines: Nov. 15 and Jan. 15. By applying before Nov. 15 and getting all of your financial aid documents squared away, you’ll be hearing back before the holidays. How about that for a second-semester senior year?

Early Action: This deadline may go by a few different names, depending on where you’re applying, but it all means the same thing; identical to Regular Decision, just a few months earlier. For Sewanee, this is our biggest batch of applications. You’ll get the chance to get this college thing out of the way before Christmas, and hear back in February or early March.

Regular Decision: The regular decision deadline is your last chance to show a college what you’ve got to offer. At this point, they’ve seen a lot of applications, probably from very good applicants. While you’ve still got a great opportunity to demonstrate your worth to an institution, all that waiting drives some students a bit loopy (decisions for RD are often released mid-Spring, in that March-April range).