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College Resources

“Early” Admission Plans and How They Work

Understanding the details of the various plans colleges use each year to admit first year students is important.  You will find the information provided in the College Resources section of your College Box extremely helpful as you approach your senior year.  You will discover that the most common plans are rolling admission and regular admission:

  • Rolling admission is used, generally, by less selective colleges to evaluate students for admission soon after their application files are completed.  With this plan, students are usually notified of the admission decision within 2-4 weeks after all of their application data has been processed.

  • Regular admission is the most common plan for admitting undergraduate students, with most regular admission deadlines falling between December 1st and March 15th.

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What is the difference between these plans and all of the “early admission” plans I keep hearing about?

Early Notification/Early Evaluation - An option offered to applicants by a relative handful of selective institutions to give some idea of their chances for admission. (This is not an admission plan, nor is it a concrete offer of admission.)

Early Action - Some selective institutions allow students to apply early -- usually between late October and late November of the senior year.  These colleges then notify students of acceptance, denial, or deferment by mid or late December.  Early Action candidates are not obligated to commit to attend the institution at the time of notification.  If admission is deferred to the regular round of notification, the application will be reviewed again at a later date and notification will be in the early spring. Students may apply to more than one college Early Action.

Some institutions have adopted Single-Choice Early Action policies that restrict applicants from applying Early Action or Early Decision to any other college or university.  If accepted under this plan, students have until May 1st to accept or turn down the offer of admission.                                                            

Early Decision - This option is for students who are sure of their first choice college.  Early Decision candidates must apply by the designated deadline -- usually falling between mid-October and mid-November. Students can generally expect the admission decision by mid-to-late December.  If admitted, students must accept the offer at once, which will require them to withdraw all other college applications. It is highly unethical to apply Early Decision to more than one college.  The signature of parents and a high school counselor is usually required on the Early Decision application to ensure that the high school does not send an official transcript to more than one college in support of such an application.
 

How can I know which plan is right for me?

In the past several years, there has been a great deal of controversy and discussion among high school counselors and college admissions officers about “early” admission plans.  In fact, some colleges and universities are eliminating this option altogether. Colleges vary in the types of admission plans they offer, so be sure to check out the latest info on these plans on the website of the colleges you plan to apply to.  Also, once you have learned about the various plans for admission, talk to your counselor about your college application choices.  You need to be certain you are fully prepared to make a wise decision about how you should apply to college when the time comes.  


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