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Which Decision is Right for You? Discerning Application Decision Types

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Application season has finally commenced! And that means one thing for students and parents from across the country: LOTS of questions. 

Every application is different. Some colleges want students to apply through the Common App. Other schools offer their own applications to be filled out through their own websites. No matter where a student is filling out the application, there is one question that is asked repeatedly every year: How do I apply?

Of course the question is not literal. What students and parents mean is “Do I apply early decision? Early action? Regular decision? And what’s this rolling and priority mean?”

Here is a breakdown of each type of decision choice:
 

Early Decision

• Students submit their applications on an earlier date (generally the end of October)
• Students receive their decisions at an earlier date (generally mid-December)
• Acceptances are binding. If accepted, a student is obligated to attend that university.
• Students can only apply to one college Early Decision.

Many colleges will accept a significant percentage of their incoming freshman class just from the early decision applicant pool alone. Similarly, applying early decision can significantly increase the probability of acceptance. If you are a legacy at a school, the impact of that legacy may only count if you apply early decision.

If you are considering applying to a college early decision, contact the undergraduate admissions office to find out how those admissions statistics are different and in your favor.
 

Early Action

• Students submit their applications on an earlier date (generally the end of October)
• Students receive their decisions at an earlier date (generally mid-December)
• Acceptances are not binding. If accepted, students are not obligated to attend that university.
• Students can apply Early Action to as many schools as they want.

Similar to early decision, applying early action can significantly increase a student’s chance of acceptance. However, for a select group of elite schools, there is a unique variation called single choice early action. What this exactly means varies by school. Most often, it means that a student cannot apply to any college early decision if they apply to one college single choice early action.

Confused? The easiest way to resolve confusion is to call the undergraduate admissions office for that college and ask exactly what that policy means.
 

Regular Decision

• Students submit their applications at the normal deadline (generally the end of December)
• Students receive their decisions at the regular time (generally early April)
• Acceptances are not binding.
• Students can apply regular decision to as many schools as they want.

This is the most common decision type for students. If a student applies to a college early decision, they will apply to the rest of their colleges early action (if available) and regular decision. For students who need more time to work on their applications, the extra two months can be invaluable and the regular decision is a blessing. But as a general rule, if a school allows a student to apply early action, that is the preferable deadline to meet.
 

Rolling Decision

• Students submit their applications whenever it is complete
• Students receive their decisions as the admissions committee makes decisions throughout the year
• Acceptances are not binding.
• Students can apply Rolling to as many schools as they want.

The earlier the better! That is the simple rule to Rolling admissions. The sooner a student finishes the application, the sooner the college can make a decision. Some colleges have a Priority deadline. All this means is that the college will give priority consideration to students who apply before that set deadline. Again, nothing to over think here: the earlier the better.

If you have any further questions about these decision types, contact Eric Karlan by email at info@myivyexperience.com or by phone at (267) 888-6489.

Eric’s company, Ivy Experience, is also hosting an exclusive free webinar on Wednesday, Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. to all friends and familyincluding the loyal leadership of Main Line Today’s MLT U. If you email Eric at the address above, he will add you to the invite list.

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