College Advice: College Application Options. Which One Is Right For You?

Unigo Expert Network

The Unigo Expert Network is a group of top education experts from across the US answering questions submitted by students and parents about college admissions and succeeding after high school.
Every year, students apply to college early for a number of different reasons, whether they found the school of their dreams or they just want to get the process over with. But does it make a difference? This week, our experts weigh in on the different application options so you can decide what’s right for you. 
Early, rolling, regular: When should you apply? — Daniel Meany, Rutland, VT

See all 14 answers for this week’s question 

A: Early Applications Are Best—But You Don’t Have to Commit
When to apply is a tough question. Early decision is best if a student is firm in their choice and financial concerns are not an issue. But if there is any uncertainty then regular decision, early action, or rolling are all appropriate options. Indeed, unless a strong senior performance might turn the tide, the earlier one can apply the better. Such an approach garners valuable timely feedback about how the application is being viewed in this particular cycle. Too, there is nothing like having a “home” even if it is not the top choice. In general, early is better. — Bill Pruden — Head of Upper School, College Counselor – Ravenscroft School

See all of Bill answers

A: The Best Deadline for You is This One
What an impossible question to answer!  Ok, nothing’s really impossible, so let’s give it a shot:  the deadline that is best depends on the individual student.  If you love one school more than life itself, are competitive with grades and scores, and have any extra significant factor, then early is best.  If you want to use fall semester to shore up your grades, take an extra test or two, make a few visits or take some time to figure things out, then regular decision is the best option.  Rolling just means that applications will be received until the places are filled, and that varies from state to state and school to school, too; in this case, earlier is usually better.  So, which is best for you? That all depends on where you are in the process. Timing is important, so choose the deadline that fits you. –John Carpenter – Founder – AskJohnAboutCollege.com

See all of John’s answers

A: Choose Your College Admission Plan Wisely
In addition to where, students must decide how to apply.  Not all schools offer all options.  When rolling admissions is offered, it is almost always best to apply early.  Early Action applications are considered before regular decision applications; this can work to the student’s advantage.  While Early Decision sometimes increases the chance of acceptance, it is binding; students should only apply if they can say, without hesitation, that the school is their first choice and that they would be very excited to attend. If students want to compare financial aid packages, they should not apply early decision. — Marilyn Emerson – Founder – College Planning Services

See all of Marilyn’s answers

 A: Do Your Homework to Know What Each Deadline Means for You
Application deadlines correspond to the admissions process followed by the college or university to which you are applying and to the degree to which you are committed to that school. For rolling admissions, apply as early as possible so that you have your answer and option as soon as possible. An early acceptance can relieve some of the anxiety students feel as later deadlines approach.  Early admission is designed to give students who are strongly interested in a particular school an opportunity to file only that one application, or a small number, and if accepted, the process is over for them. Early admission or “early action” is non-binding, so if accepted, a student does not have to enroll. Early decision, another opportunity to complete the process early, is binding, so accepted students must attend. If a student is not sure which school he/she would attend if accepted, regular decision deadlines make the most sense. — Clark Daggett – Head of School, Crossroads College Preparatory Academy

See all 14 answers to this question

 Find Unigo on Twitter at @Unigo & Facebook at Facebook.com/MyUnigo