Do you hear the tick-tock of the impending college application deadlines? They’re right around the corner and can be as early as November 1. Guys! That’s this week.

Many colleges offer different options for applications: rolling admissions, regular decision, early action, and early decision. Check with the college(s) of your choice to see which they offer. It’s important to note that all except the rolling admissions option have a hard deadline.

Here’s a reminder if you’re a little fuzzy on the difference between each of the options:

  • Early Decision – This admissions option acts as a binding agreement, meaning applicants who choose this option are expected to enroll if they are accepted. Students must submit their application by the college’s posted early deadline and are not permitted to submit Early Decision applications to other schools. Your college may require you to sign a form stating your intention of attending the school. 
  • Early Action – Unlike Early Decision, this option is non-binding. Students must submit their application by the college’s posted early deadline and may apply to multiple schools early, unless the college offers single-choice early action. Those accepted have until May 1 to accept or decline their offers.
  • Rolling Admissions – Schools with rolling admissions invite potential students to apply within a large window, sometimes six months or so. The big difference between rolling admissions and regular decision is that applications are typically reviewed as soon as they are received.
  • Regular Decision – This is the typical application process. Students must submit their application by the college’s posted deadline. Those accepted have until May 1 to accept or decline admissions offers.

In general, Early Action and Early Decision application deadlines are between November 1 – November 15 while Regular Application deadlines aren’t until January 1 – January 15, 2020. There are many exceptions so please make sure you are checking your specific school’s deadlines.

So, which is the right decision for you (or your soon-to-be college student)?

Well, each has its benefits and drawbacks. Rolling Admissions, for example, can increase your chances of admission, especially if you apply early. Conversely, it can be very competitive. With the Regular Decision option, however, you have extra time to work on your essay and other components of your application. A potential drawback is that you likely won’t hear back from colleges until graduation is sneaking up on you. 

Applying early certainly has its advantages, especially for students who have done the research, are certain about the college they want to attend, and have a consistent academic record that meets or exceeds the requirements. Of course, there are pros and cons to everything. You have the pressure to make decisions earlier and less time overall to prepare your application. Early Decision applications can cut down on the stress of applying to multiple schools, but because you’re committed to attending that school upon acceptance, you’re unable to compare financial aid opportunities. Finally, the Early Action option can offer higher acceptance rates, but it can also allow the dreaded ‘senioritis’ to creep in. 

If you choose to apply to multiple schools, and you probably have, it’s very important that you keep track of the deadlines of each college you’re applying to. Beyond when you have to put in your actual application, your decision will dictate when you take your SAT/ACT, ask for letters of recommendation, and complete any other steps in college preparation.

We unloaded a lot of information on you. We know. If you have questions about the admissions process and which option is best for you, apply today to have one of our counselors guide you along the winding path.