Early Applications Provide Early Relief
• Parents and senior students begin to prepare for life after high school.
Before they know it, parents are seeing their teenagers becoming overwhelmed by the complexities of college preparation, including tests, applications and just trying to stand out in competing for the best schools.
A large portion of students just want the entire process over and done with so that they can enjoy the remainder of their senior year. And so some take earlier steps to do so.
Colleges offer the option to apply early to their schools in either a nonbinding Early Action or in a binding Early Decision agreement.
This is done by applying for an earlier deadline, which is normally a few months before the start of the next year, depending on the school.
The application process remains the same, with the only difference being the time allotted for the student to complete and submit their applications.
Early Action applicants are given a nonbinding response, and, if accepted, are given the choice to accept or decline the offer. Students may apply Early Action to as many schools as they want and are not bound to any school.
Certain schools, however, such as Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Stanford universities, only offer the choice of restrictive Early Action, which demands that if students apply Early Action to their school, they are not permitted to apply Early Action anywhere else.
Early Action results are released anywhere from early December to early February, depending on the school. Colleges also reserve the right to “defer” students to the pool of regular decision students as well. This simply means that the application originally submitted for Early Action will be reconsidered later on with the rest of the applications.
On the other hand, in an Early Decision agreement, students have no choice other than attending that school under a contract signed by both parties.
Both options give high school seniors the opportunity to receive acceptances or rejections earlier than the most common release dates in March.
All things considered, it is an excellent opportunity to make the parents proud.
There is also the option of applying to a single school in a binding Early Decision Agreement. This option requires a legal, signed contract from both parent and student, understanding that it is a serious commitment to the school.
Backing out from an Early Decision agreement can lead to consequences, and the severity of those consequences is completely dependent on the school.
For example, students who risk applying to more than one school in Early Decision agreements can possibly lose acceptance to both schools.
Peninsula High School senior Nina Li says that, “Applying Early Decision to any school is a big commitment both on the student’s part and the colleges. The opportunity is for a student to truly showcase how much they want to attend and contribute to the school, so the fear of applying Early Decision looms over the student as they decide whether to apply early or regular decision.”
But many schools are rethinking of offering the option of Early Action. Students abuse this application method by applying to too many schools early, when 90 percent of them are not their top choices.
Even though accepted, students turn down many offers just to pick out their top choice college, treating all other colleges as “safety schools” and as a gauge for the likeliness of getting accepted elsewhere.
The opportunities are endless, and there is a school for every student. But for those who truly want to attend their lifelong dream school, applying early will only improve their chances of getting accepted.
“I think that applying early to schools can clearly demonstrate a student’s interest in the particular college, whether it be decision or action. Students should take advantage of the opportunity and even if it does not work out in the end, there are so many other options out there for students to continue exploring,” Li said.