The application process seems to become increasingly complex with each passing semester. There are more options (early decision, early action, regular decision), more dates and more requirements for students to understand. By adding more options colleges are attempting to make the application process more student friendly.
Unfortunately, and converse to the desired effect, many students find themselves overwhelmed by the number of options available. In order to take advantage of these application methods and their benefits, it is critical that students educate themselves about the pros and cons associated with each method of application.
Colleges and universities use fairly standard definitions to describe each form of application which makes it easier for students to learn about the methods available and understand the differences between each university’s programs.
The early decision option is a binding application that gives students who have selected a specific institution as their first choice a chance to show their interest in the school and express their commitment. Binding applications require that students withdraw all other applications if admitted by the university.
Early decision applications are accepted as early as Junior year at some institutions and as late as December of senior year at others. Notice of acceptance is usually received within a month of application.
While you will likely want to take your entire application packet and toss it over a cliff by the time you’re done assembling it, taking the extra step to show your application essay to people and get feedback can make all the difference.