All the talk of early decision and early action regarding college applications can make many high school students think that they, too, should apply to college early. However, early decision or action is not for everyone. While finishing college applications early may sound relieving, some students are susceptible to early rejections instead. So who shouldn’t apply to college early?
Early Decision (ED) vs. Early Action (EA)
There’s a lot of information out there about the differences between early decision and early action, and you should definitely know the difference before you decide if either is right for you. Here’s the gist though: early decision is a binding acceptance, whereas early action is a regular admission decision that comes early. No matter which one you’re considering, our advice for who should not apply to college early still stands.
Who should not apply to college early
Being under qualified can manifest in a number of ways from low grades or test scores to lacking letters of recommendation. For some students, having an extra semester of grades or more time to retake a standardized test can make the difference between acceptance or rejection, so take the time if it will help you.
Whether you started considering colleges well in advance and just still can’t make up your mind, or if you prepared late to apply to college, there’s no sense in applying to a college early if you don’t have your heart set on one. Take the time you need to consider your options. Applying early may give you an advantage, but not if you don’t convince the school you really want to go there.
Students who need financial aid
Although you are still eligible for financial aid when you apply to a university through early action, evidence suggests that gaining acceptance to multiple schools can leverage your financial aid offers. If you need a hefty financial aid package to go to a top university – especially if you have a dream school – use other offers to help you get there.
This one sounds funny, but students who to apply to schools early just to have their applications over with may be hurting themselves. You may not get accepted based on your haste, which can ironically extend the process anyway.
Whatever you decide to do, know that you do not have to apply early to university just because others are doing it, or because you think it’s the right thing to do. You should do what’s right for you above all else, and the rest will follow.