If you are optimistic about your future and positive about the career you want to start, you will benefit from sending an early college application to the school of your dreams. There are plenty of advantages to doing so, as you will not have to worry about the future during the common admission period and thus avoid all the chaos surrounding it. Plus it will make your summer much more enjoyable. However, to make sure that everything works out just fine, you will need to be organized and approach your application in advance. So, here are some tips for you to keep in mind while you are going through this process.
1. Find “the one”
Often, early application is for those who have already made their final decision regarding their future careers and the school they want to start it in. This is understandable, as depending on the type of application you want to make, there may only be the opportunity to apply to a single college. That is why your decision must be carefully weighed and undoubtable. Usually, this option is for those who have made up their mind a while ago, as there is no time for hesitation once the early application period has started. However, if you are still only examining your options, it is best to wait until the common application period.
2. Choose the type of application
There are two types of early admission: Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA). The first one is binding. It means you can only apply to one school, and if they accept you, you are obliged to study there, with no room to think. There is also Early Action. This application is not binding, so you have time and can reconsider your options even after the school you applied to has accepted you. Generally, these conditions are the reason your early application must be a weighed decision. With the ED, all other options will be closed to you, and since you will spend precious time waiting for a response, if it turns out to be negative, you will have extremely little time to apply somewhere else.
3. Make sure your grades are alright
In fact, this point is self-explanatory. For those who are going with a common application, there is still time before the end of the academic year. If you are betting on an early application, your academic record already has to be great. However, if you are sufficiently certain of your goals, you must have started working towards them before now, so just keep it up!
4. Investigate the deadlines
One of the fundamentals of a successful application is making it on time. Usually, the application deadline is in the fall, in November. However, it may vary in different schools, as well as the admission period itself. Sometimes, these several days may be decisive for the state of your admission. Get ready in advance if you don’t want to collect all the necessary documents and certificates on the last day of the early applications period. First, clarify the deadline. Second, collect the application materials. Then, double-check everything and wait for the application period to start.
5. Do the homework
It is not enough to pick the school of your dreams. It is also necessary to prove to the admission panel that you are the perfect fit for it. The first thing to pay attention to is clearly the numbers. What GPS score do you need? What is the exact number of documents you have to submit? How do extracurricular activities help your chances? What is the competition like in the early admission? Does the type of application matter?
However, you will also want to learn more about the soft skills you have to possess and the values that the school promotes. In fact, you will need to present yourself as a well-rounded personality, including both an impressive level of knowledge and a strong sense of motivation. Just find out what the school pays attention to and focus on that.
6. Be ready to commit to the school
Early admission is a case of complete dedication to a particular college or university rather than simple interest in a field you want to study or a profession you want to obtain. When you make an Early Decision application and the school accepts you, it is your obligation to subsequently attend this school. Thus, you will have to stop considering entering other colleges, even if some of them once seemed more appealing. Anyway, if you apply for an early admission, you already have it all sorted out, right?
7. Have a backup plan
Even if your plans for your future are solid and you do not want to consider any other options, it is still better to have a backup plan. The risk of early admission is that you essentially only have one shot. Besides, after the application you will have to wait for the results. What will you do if the response is negative, the application period is over, and you have no time to apply to a different institution early? Just as an option, think about the worst case scenario. It’s not being overly pessimistic, it is just part of the regular summer admissions process.
8. Plan ahead
If you are considering early admission, the spring of your junior year is just the right time to start.
- January through May is the time you take your SAT or ACT tests. Besides, you have your spring break. It is the perfect time to visit the colleges you are applying to and make sure you click with them.
- May through June is the time you take SATs for specific subjects if it is required by your target college. Also, it is the time for you to work hard on your rating and maintain your good grades. The record you show to the college panel will be the one from your junior year.
- September through October is the time to work on the applications themselves. During this period, you are supposed to familiarize yourself with the deadlines and procedures of the college you want to enter. Also, this is the time to gather teachers’ recommendations and the last opportunity to complete SATs if you haven’t before. Finally, at this time you can apply for financial aid if necessary.
- November is the application month. File your applications in accordance with the guides and deadlines and supplement them up with teachers’ recommendations.
9. Follow the ethics of early decision
When you decide to file an Early Decision, you need to go through a certain procedure. This type of application requires your parent or counselor to sign the Early Decision form, which is, essentially, the document of your obligation to follow through in the case of acceptance. This form spells out all the conditions of Early Decision admission. Make your plans and aspirations clear in your school handbook as well as in the events dedicated to preparing for college. This way, you will clarify that you are sending your early decision to one and only one college, as any other option would be unethical.
10. Prepare for an antsy month
Time may sometimes be said to fly, but the period between the moment you file an application and the moment you receive the response will certainly not. You might find yourself overthinking every single inch of the form you submitted, since the results will be decisive for both your career and your future in general. Here, it is important to remember that you have already done your best and that nothing depends on you at this point. Try to focus on your studies and look forward to the holiday season, and don’t make yourself crazy worrying about the application response.
11. Weigh the financial side
Applying early may significantly reduce your opportunities in getting financial aid for your education. If you file an early action application, you will receive an admission response and offer for financial aid at the same time. However, there is no guarantee the financial aid will be sufficient for you. This means that you will not be able to consider the financial aid offers from other schools. If the matter of receiving a scholarship is critical for your situation, applying early can be a risky decision.
12. Consult your teachers
The admission process may seem overwhelming for you, but you don’t have to go through it alone. If you face complications or uncertainties, you can always approach your teachers for a piece of advice. Teachers can observe and assess your progress objectively, and they are the people whose recommendation will weigh in your college application after all. Don’t be afraid to articulate your goals, and you will be surprised how much support you can get.
13. Don’t let your motivation fade
When you receive a positive response from the college you so badly longed to study at, you will feel that all the efforts were worth it. You may also feel that the toughest part is over, but it is not. The college will pay attention to your record throughout the whole year, and the rest of your time in high school may, in fact, be the easiest segment of your path. Nonetheless, you have to be consistent in your academic achievements, even when the deal about the college has been sealed. It might seem like you don’t have to put much effort into your high school results anymore, but you should keep in mind that gaps in your knowledge will make college life all the tougher.
14. Keep your options open
Here is a counterargument to applying early. This type of admission has its benefits as well as its pitfalls. Whether you fail to be accepted, decide to wait until the common app time or just change your mind about the college itself, it is not the end of the world. After all, you can enjoy the advantages and suffer the setbacks of making a regular college application side by side with most of your peers.
15. Keep it together during the first year
Your freshman year in college will probably be hugely stressful for you, and it is natural. You will change your environment and your workload. College will demand more from you and you will take on new responsibilities that you probably never asked for. To keep your academic record clean, you will either have to sacrifice quite a bit of your mental health or regular sleeping patterns, or become a time management genius through trial and error. In any case, just remember that your new peers are going through the same thing, if that makes it any better.
The application process for both common and early college admissions is tough, but you have to go through it anyway. It may seem overwhelming, but it is never impossible, so take it one step at a time and keep your spirit high.