Hamilton Gregg is the founder of International Educational Consulting and has worked in education since 1985. He helps students and their families understand their personal and educational needs and find the right school to meet their requirements. If you are a student or parent who would like to ask Gregg a question on our blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Applying early to a US school is a great way of showing interest and passion for a school. But some people get peer-pressured into applying this way. Sometimes I hear that students are applying early because they’re panicked. “All my friends are applying early and madly writing essays. Should I also apply? I am feeling left out!” It’s often the case that students are applying early for all the wrong reasons.
Applying early because your friends are really makes no sense. Applying early to a school should always be about a specific school being the school you love more than any other school. It should not be a knee jerk reaction to what other people are doing.
There is a misconception that students have an easier chance of getting admitted if they apply early. Generally, this is not true at all. While a school may take a large portion of their freshman class early, students who are applying early are generally more organized, have done their research and are usually of a higher caliber of student, so the school has a higher concentration of appropriate and qualified candidates to choose from when look at the early pile of applications.
Highly selective schools, which use early application programs, are looking to secure students who have demonstrated interest in their school and can compete with all the other students applying and getting in. A school is not going to significantly lower their standards in the early round to accept students who are not qualified. What they are hoping to do is set a benchmark for the class they are going to accept throughout the application period.
A student who does not meet the mark will not get admitted, regardless of when they apply. Students really need to take a step back, assess their personal and academic qualities and determine whether they fit that school and the community they are trying to build.
There is a fair amount of confusion about early application policies. It is very important to understand the different types of early programs. Early Decision or ED, is, well a decision. Meaning that if you are accepted, aside from something terminal, you are going to that school and you must withdraw all of your other applications. This policy is different from Early Action, which is just that an action of applying early to a school. You do not have to commit to attending. There should be, however, the same kind of enthusiasm about the school. Single Choice means that you may not apply to any other school early. There are some differences and as the student you must know the policy of each school. You do not want to make a mistake with this, because it may affect your other applications. Priority Applications are like Early Action, generally offered by public schools.
Applying to university can be an anxiety-making process. It is actually very important that as a student you step back, make appropriate assessments of who you are and what your plan is for this next phase of your life. It should be something that you own and manage. Beware of blindly following others.
On the topic of applying, there have been a number of problems this year the Common Application process. This year Common Application rolled out CA4, a new and ostensibly streamlined process. It has been beset by a number of problems including issues with submitting applications and adding teachers to the recommender list. While all of these bugs are being resolved, some more quickly than others, be aware that in response many schools are delaying the deadline for Early Applications. Please make sure you not only check the policy of each school but also look to see if they are delaying the due date.
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