Applying Early

Should a student apply early? More and more students are answering this question with a “yes." There is a perception, sometimes accurate, that a student who applies early has a slightly higher chance of admission. Some students also want to have a decision in their hands earlier than April.

Applying early should not be taken lightly. Some early application decisions represent binding commitments; others do not. It is important to understand the language of early applications before making choices.

Types of Early Applications

Early Decision

Schools offer one or more specific deadlines for early applications. The student agrees, if accepted, to attend that school. An Early Decision application is a commitment, so the student can only have one active Early Decision application at a time. However, if not admitted in first round Early Decision, the student can opt to apply Early Decision II to a different school if it offers second round Early Decision (typically in January). This choice is only good for a student who is absolutely certain that he or she wants to attend a particular school.

Early Action

Schools offer an early deadline for applications. Acceptances from schools are not binding on the student. Students may apply to additional schools and do not need to make a commitment until May 1.

Early Action, Single Choice

Schools offer an early deadline for applications. Students may not apply to any other schools early. Students do not need to make a commitment until May 1.

Rolling

Schools review applications as they are received and send out decisions as they are made. Students may apply to additional schools and do not need to make a commitment until May 1.

Because these schools often make admissions and financial aid decisions on a first-come, first-served basis, it is usually to the student’s advantage to apply to schools with Rolling admissions policies as early as possible.

Priority

Different schools may use this term differently, but it often suggests that only students applying under the earliest deadline will be given maximum consideration for admission, special programs, scholarships, and housing.