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Understanding College Application Plans: Your Guide to Early Decision, Early Action, and More

Your Ultimate 6-Week Application Navigator

Week 6: Understanding College Application Plans: Your Guide to Early Decision, Early Action, and More

Are you a high school student preparing for college applications? As a college counselor in San Diego, I’m here to help you understand the different application plans available. Let’s break down the main options to help you make the best choice for your college journey.

Early Decision (ED): The “You’re My Favorite” Option

Early Decision is for students with a clear top-choice school and are ready to commit.

Here’s what you need to know:

– Deadline: Usually November 1

– Decision: Typically released in December

– Key Point: It’s a binding commitment. When you apply to a school ED, you sign an agreement saying you will attend if accepted

Popular ED schools include Brown University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell University. Remember, you can only apply ED to one school, so be sure it’s your best academic, social, and financial fit!

Early Action (EA): The “Early Bird” Choice

If you want to apply early but aren’t ready to commit, Early Action might be for you. EA offers:

– Deadline: Usually November 1

– Decision: Typically released in December

– Key Point: The flexibility to apply to multiple schools and complete your applications to enjoy the remaining months of 12th grade. 

Schools like the University of Michigan and Georgetown University offer EA. It’s a great way to potentially hear back from schools earlier without the binding commitment of ED.

Regular Decision (RD): The Traditional Route

Regular Decision is the standard application timeline for most colleges. Here’s what to expect:

– Deadline: Typically in early January or February, although the UC system and CSU system have a November 30 deadline

– Decision: usually released in March or April

– Key Point: Freedom to apply to as many schools as you want Most colleges offer a Regular Decision option, making it a versatile choice for many students

Rolling Admission: The “First Come, First Served” Plan

Under the Rolling Admission application plan, a school evaluates applications as they receive them.

– Deadline: There’s no fixed deadline. Some schools’ deadlines are as late as May 1 of 12th grade

– Decision: Decisions are released on an ongoing basis

– Key Point: Earlier applicants might have an admission advantage, especially for majors that are impacted Schools like Arizona State, Penn State, and Michigan State use Rolling Admission. If you’re interested in highly popular majors, it’s often better to apply earlier rather than later.

Choosing The Application Plan

When deciding which application plan to use, consider:

– How sure you are about your top choice school

– Your readiness to commit early. Consider the following: Do you have all of your application materials in order? Are your grades leading up to the application deadline strong? Are you ready to present a strong application?

– The specific deadlines and requirements of your target schools

Whatever plan students choose, the key is to stay organized, meet deadlines, and put forth the strongest application materials for each college or university. Good luck with college applications!

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“Sylvia is a phenomenal college counselor. She is patient, kind, organized, and extremely knowledgeable about the college application process." - Susie

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