College Planning Resources
Types of Admission Plans
There are several types of admission plans. It is important that you read the information supplied by the colleges when you begin the application process because there are differences among college programs.
Early decision plans require careful consideration, because they are binding. You should only apply early decision if: you are positive you want to attend and financial aid is not a consideration. Early decision applications are typically due to the college on November 1. Students apply to one school early decision, are notified of a decision in mid-December, and the student must agree to enroll if admitted. If you are applying ED, you are saying that you are positive that this school is your first choice and that you will enroll if accepted. There are three possible outcomes in early decision: acceptance, denial, or deferral. If you are accepted under ED, YOU MUST IMMEDIATELY WITHDRAW ANY APPLICATIONS YOU HAVE SUBMITTED TO OTHER SCHOOLS. You can notify the colleges by email, but make sure your email is acknowledged, and please be sure to copy your counselor on the email.
If you are deferred under early decision, you will be reconsidered with the regular pool of applicants. You do not have to reapply. Colleges will typically have a form that requests any new information on grades, testing, activities or notable achievements. You should also send an email indicating that you are still very interested in attending the college, highlighting for the admission office anything new in your life.
The Early Decision Agreement
If you apply under an early decision plan, you must submit an Early Decision Agreement. This form can be found at www.commonapp.org, with any other electronic application provider's form, or as a part of a college's unique form. The ED Agreement is signed by the student, a parent/guardian, and the high school counselor. It is electronically submitted by the high school counselor. Colleges take this contract seriously. Please read it carefully and make sure you understand what you are committing to by signing it. If you fail to abide by its terms and, for example, apply to more than one college early decision, your acceptance at both schools may be rescinded. Students sign a similar agreement when applying under a Restrictive Early Action Plan.
Restrictive Single Choice Early Action
This option is offered by only a handful of colleges, but if a school you are interested in happens to be one of them, then you need to understand it.
Restrictive early action is a nonbinding plan where students apply to a first-choice school early and receive an early decision. Students have until May 1 to respond to an offer. You may apply to other colleges under regular or nonbinding rolling admission plans, but may NOT apply to any other school under early action, early decision or REA. Students should check the website of any college where they are applying REA to understand if there are further restrictions. There are three outcomes under restrictive early action: acceptance, denial, or deferral.
This plan tends to be used at many state universities. The institution reads, processes, and notifies students on a rolling basis as applications come in. Submitting applications sooner than later is better for rolling admissions. In order to maximize your chances, applications for universities such as Penn State, Wisconsin, IU, and California State Schools should be completed and submitted by October 15th or as early as possible.
This is the "usual" way of applying to college. You can apply to as many schools as you wish (within reason). Regular decision deadlines vary from school to school, however, college deadlines tend to fall on January 1st or January 15th for competitive colleges. If financial aid is a consideration in your college search, it is best to apply regular decision and then compare all the different financial aid packages you are awarded. The college usually notifies you of their decision on or around April 1st and you have until May 1st to reply. In most cases, the sooner you deposit, the better your housing assignment will be. You may only deposit at one university. Double depositing is not permitted.