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5 Tips for Early Action and Early Decision

[fa icon="calendar"] Oct 25, 2016 1:38:47 PM / by Carol Barash, PhD

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With so many colleges offering versions of Early Action and Early Decision, one of your strongest admission moves when figuring out how to get into college is to get your first applications finished and out the door by the Early Action deadline.

Even if your high school doesn’t spend much time on college admissions--or if most people from your high school apply to the local college--here are five reasons why you should get started now, and send out a handful of Early Action applications.

  • Applying Early Action improves your odds and reduces stress: The Early Action pool is smaller than the regular pool, and so your odds of admission go up--sometimes more than double--when you apply by the earlier deadline. Taking action helps to reduce stress, so when you start working on your college applications you defang the monster.
  • Applying early prunes your list and makes it manageable: Having to finish early makes most students more realistic about where to apply. The worst that happens is the college doesn’t admit you--if that’s in the cards, it’s better to know early, so you can apply other places. If your application is deferred to the general pool, then you have a chance to add more information to your file (awards, publications, excellent fall grades).
  • In regular decision other factors kick in: For most students at most high schools, you won’t have to submit fall grades for Early Action. So if you have a strong academic record through the end of junior year, applying early showcases that strength. If you apply in the regular pool--or your Early application is deferred to the regular pool, your fall and winter grades will be looked at carefully. For some students this causes more stress.
  • More and more colleges are also making financial aid decisions along with Early Action: So if you are applying to colleges where you are a very strong candidate for admission and financial aid (you can figure this out using the net cost calculator for every college), you may also receive financial aid decisions early. This helps you and your family plan how you will pay for college.
  • Applying early--not only EA but also ED and rolling admissions) avoids reader fatigue: I’ve heard many admissions officers describe this phenomenon, and I remember it from when I served as a faculty advisor to the admissions committee at Douglass College, Rutgers: at the beginning of each admissions cycle you wait with great anticipation for the applications to start rolling in. When there are just a few in your queue, each one gets a lot of attention. But as the pile increases, the students start to.

It may sound like what I’m recommending creates more college stress by telling you to get things organized and executed by November 1st. It may sound like a lot of work and you feel you’re not ready. I’m actually recommending something very specific, doable, and stress-reducing: apply to a variety of colleges that are non-binding Early Action for their earliest deadlines (only one if it is single choice Early Action). Unlike Early Decision which is binding (if you get in, you have to go there, and that might be something you’re not sure about by November 1st), Early Action is non-binding, so it improves your odds of admission to some or all of your top choice colleges, while leaving your overall options open.

And when you’re ready to get started, Story2 EssayBuilder helps you plan, organize and complete all your admission and scholarship essays.

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This blog originally was featured as 5 Tips: Why Everyone Should Apply Early Action This Year

Topics: High School and College

Carol Barash, PhD

Written by Carol Barash, PhD

Author of Write Out Loud, CEO of Story2, Carol Barash, PhD is revolutionizing writing through storytelling. Forbes named Story2 one of “10 EdTech Companies You Need to Know About.” A professor at Princeton, Michigan, and Rutgers, where she served in admissions, Carol graduated from Yale (BA), UVa (MA) Princeton (PhD).