College Chronicles Pt. 1: The First Wave of Early Applications
It’s that chilling time of year… college app season. Between now and February, many seniors will be kicking it into high gear to finish up applications to various colleges and universities across the nation and around the world.
Some students have already clicked submit after weeks of working on their applications. November 1st, 2023 was the early submission deadline for many institutions, and November 15th, just two days from now, is the early submission deadline for many others.
Early submission consists of two main options: early action (EA) and early decision (ED). The key difference between the two is early decision is binding, meaning if a student applies early decision they are committing to attending the institution if they are accepted, while early action is not.
Early decision is a good choice for those who are set on attending a specific institution and are confident that it is the school for them. Acceptance rates are generally higher in the early decision round opposed to the regular decision round that comes in at the beginning of January and February.
This is because there is a smaller pool of applicants and early decision applicants are signaling a concrete commitment to the institution they wish to attend. Therefore, more students are admitted relative to the number that apply. The big perk with ED is if a student is admitted in December, then they know where they will be attending in the following fall and they are essentially done with college applications for good.
Alternatively, it makes sense to apply early action somewhere if a student wants to hear back from the institution as soon as possible, but is not 100% certain where they would like to attend. This gives the student more flexibility to choose between colleges as they receive their admissions decisions from various institutions. The non-binding nature of early action also allows students to compare their financial aid packages from the schools they are accepted to.
Acacia Blyth, a senior, applied early decision to a university by the November 1st deadline. The college she applied to did not offer early action, but she chose to apply ED nonetheless. “It was the only school that had almost the exact program I’m looking for and I feel like the program I’m wanting is pretty niche,” said Blyth. “It’s in a location that I feel like makes me really excited thinking about living [in].”
Isabella Russo, another senior, applied early to eight schools total. “For me location is a big issue so all of these places, I just knew that based on location I’d be happy there,” said Russo. “Also, the programs they offer there. All of them have good entrepreneurship or business programs, so I knew I wanted to be there.”
The seniors who have already submitted their early applications have learned some lessons that they are going to take with them going into the next round of regular decision applications.
“I think I am going to try to stay a little more organized,” said Blyth. “I definitely got put in college lockdown for a few days near the end and I just want to make sure that I spread out my work especially since it’s more than just one college I’m applying to this time.”
Allowing ample time to complete applications seems to be a common lesson across the board amongst seniors who submitted early. “I will just make sure I have at least a week before [the deadline],” said Russo. Also, “I think I’ll have more people read my supplementals because I focused too much on my [personal statement]... because [supplementals] are just as important.”
These seniors also have some advice specifically for underclassmen who have yet to start the college application process or for fellow seniors who have not submitted an application thus far. “No matter what stage [your writing] is in I would definitely suggest getting it reviewed because you can really draw great inspiration from just talking it out with somebody else,” said Blyth. She urges plenty of time for revisions.
“Don’t wait for the last minute,” said Russo. “Give yourself at least one week before your deadline because I can guarantee you you are going to forget something, a surprise supplement is gonna pop up, a surprise interview will pop up. Take your time. It took me about 2 months to draft my final essay.”
These seniors feel differently than they did before they applied to any colleges. “I think I’m kinda feeling like I need to find motivation again,” said Blyth. “My first application was pretty heavy and I think that I haven’t really spent enough time looking into the next wave of my regular decision so I need to just get the motivation back.”
“I’m feeling a lot better because I’ve been through it once, eight times, so I am already confident I can do it again,” said Russo. “It makes me excited because now I know the adrenaline, the little shot of joy you get every time you [click] submit.”
Follow the newly created Parker senior destination instagram page to keep up to date on where Parker School’s class of 2024 ends up and stay tuned for pt.2 of College Chronicles, coming soon!