EARLY DECISION VS EARLY ACTION VS REGULAR DEADLINE
The USA universities have different sets of deadlines for undergraduate admissions and it is important for students to understand what these deadlines are and how to decide on which deadline to apply.
Let’s understand the different deadlines first and what all options you have.
EARLY DECISION DEADLINE:
Most of the highly selective colleges offer this deadline and it is binding which means that if you get accepted, you have to withdraw applications from all other colleges you have applied to. You can only apply to one college in the early decision deadline. Some colleges have two early decision deadlines known as Early Decision I and Early Decision II.
Early Decision II deadlines give a second chance to the students who are not accepted in the college they applied to in Early Decision I. This deadline also gives you more time to improve your academic predicted scores and standardized test scores, do more research and prepare your applications. Early Decision I deadlines are in the month of October/November and Early Decision II, in the month of January.
Students have to sign the agreement stating that they will obey the Early decision policy. Students will have the flexibility to apply to other countries.
PROJECT WORK OR RESEARCH ACTIVITIES
Aside from the required last year’s projects, attempt to do more mini projects (regardless of whether the span is short) ideally pick from the specialization that you’d prefer to seek after once in the University.
For e.g.: If you’d prefer to have some expertise in Artificial Intelligence a smaller than normal undertaking on mechanical autonomy or AI can be taken up. Take an interest in paper presentation rivalries held during tech fest, yearly occasions, and so forth. Writing surveys of existing work are likewise considered as papers.
EARLY ACTION DEADLINE:
This deadline is not binding and you may apply to as many colleges as you want (though we recommend 8-10 colleges). You are not obliged to attend university even if you are accepted. Early Action deadlines are mostly in the first week of November.
RESTRICTIVE EARLY ACTION DEADLINE:
This deadline is not binding but as the name states, it restricts you to apply to other private/public colleges in early decision, early action and restrictive early action deadlines. You may apply to the colleges in regular deadlines and state universities. Restrictive early action deadlines are also in the month of October/November.
REGULAR DECISION DEADLINES:
This is also not a binding deadline and you may apply to as many colleges as you want (though we recommend for 8-10 colleges). Regular decision deadlines start in December and go till April/May.
ROLLING ADMISSIONS DEADLINE:
Many universities keep their applications open till the end of the admission cycle and keep accepting the applications till the time their seats are filled. This gives you maximum time to complete your application but we do not recommend waiting till the end. In our experience, there are students who were either not accepted or missed the financial aid because of the late application submission.
Now let’s understand, who should apply in Early Decision?
- You have done your research and dug out the reason that the college is a perfect fit for you.
- You have the grades, test scores and extracurricular activities in line with the university requirement and you have good chances to get in.
- The college is your dream school and you will attend if accepted
- You and your family are ready to bear the expenses if you will not able to get the desired financial aid from the college
If you agree to all the aforementioned points, you must apply to your dream college in an early decision deadline, it will increase the chances of acceptance.
WHAT ABOUT EARLY ACTION?
- If you are not comfortable with any of the aforementioned points of Early Decision, it is advisable to consider early action, it may not increase the chances of acceptance but will not hurt you either.
- You had enough time to complete your essays and other application requirements
- You do not feel a need for retaking the tests to improve your scores
You will get decisions early and will be stress-free by January in your senior year. You will also get time to do more research to finalize the college you will attend in case of multiple admits. Last but not the least, you still have time to apply for regular or rolling deadlines in case you will not get the good news from the colleges you applied to in early action.
WHEN SHOULD YOU CONSIDER A REGULAR DECISION DEADLINE?
- You are so occupied with your academics that you do not get enough time to research the colleges
- You need more time to write your essays
- Your last term scores are not as good as expected and you want to apply with the improved scores in term 2
- Your standardized test(s) is due or you want to retake to improve your scores
It is of utmost importance that you must submit a quality application instead of a messy application in early deadlines so take your time and then submit your applications.
ENROLL IN SUMMER SCHOOL PROGRAMS
Differentiate your profile by attending summer school programs run by some of the top schools in the US and UK such as LSE, Harvard, Brown, etc. These programs are available to high school students and as well as students pursuing theirs under graduation. A lot of schools conduct special 7-10 day workshops for leadership, writing, dance, etc.
Here is the step by step guide to making the decision:
- Begin your college research
Start researching the colleges through the various tools available online or through the college websites. Take a virtual tour and if possible, visit colleges in person. Try to connect with the college admission officers, alumni and current college students to know more about the college and the program.
- Make a List
Make a list of 18-20 colleges you see are perfect for you. Add more columns to the list and add your other preferences and related information like location, ranking, tuition fee, financial aid, other opportunities at the campus. Get Your college list format
- Categorize as Ambitious, Reach and Safety School
Now you have listed the colleges which are a perfect fit for you, it is important to check that you are also a perfect fit for the college. Check the admissions requirement and in which category you are. Is it an ambitious school, reach or a safety school. Categorize all the colleges in these three categories and review them. Make sure you have a balance list in each category.
- Cut Down The List
Enough research is done, good work !!! Now is the time to cut down your list to 8-10 colleges that are a perfect fit for you and you are a perfect fit for them. Again, create a balance list including all three categories.
Now is the time to check the deadlines of each listed college and its policy.