Inside tips and advice from AcceptU's team of former admissions officers


Benefits of applying early – but not too early

August 12, 2010, Posted In Applying Early

Ladies and gentlemen, thus kicks off this year’s admissions season.

As Jacques Steinberg of the Times has reported, the Common App went live on August 1 and – sure enough – nearly 1,000 college-bound hopefuls had clicked “submit” within a day.

Submitting apps early can certainly have some advantages – but not this early. For example, school counselors will not yet have submitted any information on the applicant, including a letter of recommendation or a school profile. Teachers also will not have sent their letters of recommendation. And applications won’t even be read until October or November.

Here are three other important tips that you should keep in mind when applying to school “early”:

• Many large public universities offer admission on a rolling basis. What does this mean? Admissions officers will read applications as they come in, and could make a decision within 3 to 4 weeks. In this case, applying early can be an advantage, as long as your counselor and teachers also submit provide their supporting documentation, too.

• Applying via an Early Decision program can provide an advantage for applicants. Almost all colleges have a higher acceptance rate and slightly lower test and GPA averages for those admitted in early decision. But students do not have an opportunity to compare financial aid packages, and they must attend that college if admitted. Early decision applications are usually due on November 1.

• Applying Early Action, offered by some colleges, allows students to apply early – but there is no commitment to attend the college if admitted. With no restrictions placed on the applicant, he or she can apply to several early action colleges and rolling decision colleges very early in the season. It’s nice to get some responses – especially positive ones – early in senior year, rather than waiting for April.

So, bottom line, think about applying early – but not too early.