Applying Early

Article by: Liz Kang

The US college application system is well known for its flexibility. High school students, who are considering applying to US colleges, first need to be familiar with the various admission systems that they offer. One of these options is the ability to apply to colleges early.

Regular and early applications are differentiated, not only by timing, but also the opportunities and benefits the student applying can partake in. The early application program mainly consists of two sub programs, early action and early decision. Both programs require the application to be made earlier than a regular decision application to the same school, usually by November 1st. Hence, the admission review results are also available by December. One important distinction between early action and early decision is that the early decision procedure is binding while early action is not. This means once the applicant gets admission through the early decision program, the student must attend that college. Because of this, only one application for the early decision program is allowed per student. Early action, on the other hand, does not have such restrictions.

ED and EA are beneficial for many students, especially those who have a very strong preference for one college. Applicants have the privilege of receiving the colleges final decision on their application in advance. Thus this can reduce stress by lessening the time spent waiting for application decisions. Once students are accepted to schools in early, they can spend more time preparing for housing and their new college life. If the student is not admitted, however, this allows students to reassess their college choices and apply to other schools. However, with these benefits follow the time and effort to complete all the application requirements way in advance. For International School Manila (ISM) students, the deadline for transcript requests and 2 teacher recommendations are about one month before the deadline for completed transcript requests and recommendations for students who are applying for regular decisions.

Regular applications can be made for any colleges students want to apply to. However, most students prepare a list of colleges, based on consultations with their counselor and other adviser groups, such as family. Students are, therefore, given more time to think about which colleges they should apply to than the students who are applying early. The outcome of regular applications is available by around early April.

Counselors in ISM hugely recommend senior students to apply for regular decision if the students feel that they can raise their grades during the first semester of senior year. This may be one of the most crucial advantages to those who are applying for regular decision, as early applicants send only grades from 9th grade to 11th grade.

In the end, it is up to students to decide whether they are more fit to apply Early Decision or Regular Decision. It is a choice that must be made for good reasons, and can have a tremendous impact on the entire application process.