Four in Five Seniors Apply Early to College
by Rebecca Chernick on Friday, November 16th, 2012
Approximately 80% of the Class of 2013 submitted at least one early decision (ED), early action (EA), or priority college admission application this year. Only 70% of the Class of 2012 submitted early, and in the past ten years, about 60-65% percent of students have applied early.
This increase in early applications is not isolated to Milton. “Milton’s percentage of early applicants is similar to that of its peer institutions,” according to the college office. “We do not actively encourage students to apply early; ultimately, that has to be the individual student’s decision.”
According to the college office, “early decision is a binding agreement: if you get accepted, you have to attend.” Early action, however, “is non-binding: you can still apply to other colleges in the regular round even if you get accepted early action.”
The college office adds that “if a student finds a college that he or she really likes, and if, after extensive research and self-reflection, he or she is willing to commit to that school, then early decision makes good sense.”
Clare Dingle (I) applied ED because “after visiting, I realized [that was] the school I’d be happiest at, simple as that.” Erica Matthews (I) said, “my ED School was by far my favorite school, and I would be thrilled to go there. If I hate it, I suppose I can transfer, but I doubt I will – I know enough about the school and about the other schools I’m applying to be certain in my decision.” Jesse Rice (I) agreed that he would not regret having fewer options if he got into his ED school because it was his number one choice. Clare added, “being sure is something that’s really important because it is binding, and there’s no going back on it.”
Unlike early decision, when submitting an early action application, a student is not tied down to the chosen school. “If a student is really interested in an early action school, applying early makes a lot of sense,” says the college office. “[But] a student rushing to complete an application by the early action deadline might consider waiting. It would not serve the student well to submit an application that is incomplete, substandard, less than fully thoughtful.”
Financial aid is the only other risk with applying early because ED students cannot compare financial aid packages from different schools. Nevertheless, the college office said, “last year a number of colleges offering early decision programs suggested that financial aid students should apply early because more financial aid monies would be available in the early round.”
“The fact that a number of colleges have indicated more forcefully that applying early enhances a student’s chances of admission has also exerted pressure on the process,” added the college office.
Although applying early is sometimes an advantage, this is not always the case. “For some colleges, applying early is a distinct advantage. There are colleges who fill close to half of their freshman class early. But there are also colleges, most of them with early action programs, for whom applying early does not give a student an edge in the process.”
Ali Edwards (I) said, “[I] didn’t have any one school that I was in love with, so I wasn’t really ever considering ED. But I did know of a couple schools where I would be really happy and also offered early action.”
Applying early also eases the daunting college process. Ali said, “early action was really appealing because it would remove a lot of stress from the rest of the college process.” Erica agreed, saying, “I also did it just to force myself to get going on the entire process.”
Even younger students recognize some of the benefits of applying early. “I haven’t really thought about [the application process],” said Claire Russell (II), “but I will definitely apply some places early because that would be a great weight off my shoulders.”
For some students, early decision is a chance to apply to a school they really love. Ellen Asky (III) said, “I have always loved Stanford from the day I first saw their campus and ate ice cream there—I was 5. Not to mention that it’s a great school.”
This increase in early applications “has definitely front-loaded recommendation-writing for the college office and for teachers.” To accommodate early applications, the college office has shifted parts of their program for seniors. For example, the essay-writing assembly has been switched from senior fall to junior spring.
Despite the anxiety and anticipation involved in the lengthy college process, applying early has helped many seniors enjoy their last few months at Milton with as little stress as possible.
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