Does the Early Bird Get the Worm? Breaking Down Early Action and Early Decision
We’ve all been told that “the early bird gets the worm,” or been asked “why put off for tomorrow what you can do today?” This is good advice in many areas in life, and for some students, it also can be true of the college application process. There are two ways students can get the work and stress of college application season out of the way early: early decision and early action. In this post, we will define each plan and lay out the pros and cons so you can make the best decision possible.
Both early decision and early action allow students to apply to their first choice schools – and receive admissions decisions from those schools – early in the process. With early decision, students generally apply before Thanksgiving and know whether they’ve been accepted by Christmas. With early action, students also apply by Thanksgiving but do not hear whether or not they’ve been accepted until January or February – still early in the process. The most significant difference between early decision and early action is that if a student applies to a school early decision and is accepted, he or she must enroll in that school and withdraw applications sent to other schools, whereas if the student applies early action, he or she has until May 1 to decide where to enroll.
The Pros of Early Decision:
- Students can complete the college application process and know exactly where they’ll be going to school the next year by Winter Break.
- Students still have time to apply to other schools if they are not accepted early decision.
The Cons of Early Decision:
- Because early decision is binding, students can only apply to one school that way; every other application must be submitted through the traditional admissions process.
- Also, because the student has to commit if accepted, the student has little leverage in terms of negotiating financial aid packages based on what he or she received from other schools. However, if the cost of attending is prohibitive even after applying all financial aid, a student can de-commit.
- Not all schools have an early decision program.
- Despite popular belief, applying early decision does not increase chances of being accepted.
The Pros of Early Action:
- Depending on what schools they apply to, students can complete multiple early action applications and can learn whether or not they’ve been accepted sooner than they would through the traditional process.
- Students still have time to apply to other schools if they are not accepted early action.
- Students are not bound to enroll in the school if they are accepted. They have until the May 1 enrollment deadline, allowing them the chance to hear from all of the schools to which they applied about admission and financial aid.
Cons of Early Action:
- Not all schools have an early action program; and like early decision, applying early action does not increase the odds of acceptance. Beyond that, really, there aren’t any cons. Early action allows students to get college applications out of the way and hear if they’ve been accepted earlier in the process without the pressure of being locked in to enrolling if accepted like in early decision.
Now that we’ve defined early decision and early action and examined their pros and cons, let’s discuss which type of students these programs may and may not benefit.
Early decision and early action programs are great for students who:
- Have done a lot of research on colleges and feel confident that the school(s) to which they are applying are the right fit academically, financially, socially, etc. Again, this is particularly important for applying early decision, as the student is locked in to enrolling and has to accept the financial aid package offered if accepted.
- Have had strong academic performance throughout high school and academic credentials that meet or exceed the minimums for the schools to which they’re applying.
Early decision and early action programs are NOT great for students who:
- Are not confident the school(s) to which they’re applying are the right fit.
- Want to have flexibility in comparing financial aid packages.
- Need to use the fall semester of senior year to bring up their GPA or ACT/SAT scores.
Again, not every school offers early decision and early action, and there is not a standard set of requirements among schools that do, so it’s important – just as with every other part of the college-going process – that students research and understand the individual school’s expectations with respect to early admissions programs.
Just as in other areas in life, the early bird often does get the worm with early decision and early action programs, but they have to be really sure it’s the right worm! If you need help navigating the early decision/early action process, call us at 216.241.5587, and we’ll be happy to help.
Featured Image Copyright: rusty426 / 123RF Stock Photo
With the election fast approaching, we at College Now would like to share some information with you about an issue that is important to us: Issue 108, the renewal of the 2012 four-year levy for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD).
In 2012, Cleveland voters passed a 15-mill levy that focused on improving high schools in the CMSD, and also began the work of Mayor Jackson’s strategic initiative known as the Cleveland Plan for Transforming Schools. With the 2012 levy, school and city officials said they sought better results for students, including improved graduation rates, enrollment and academic performance. And while results haven’t been outstanding, we are seeing progress, and school reforms have been working.
Since 2012, the four-year graduation rate in the CMSD has risen 10 percentage points from 56 percent to 66 percent for the class of 2015. Crain’s Cleveland Business reported that District enrollment was 38,555 for the 2014-2015 school year, which is the highest figure in at the least the past 25 years. Academic performance has improved, as well, with 10 percent fewer students needing remediation in math or English upon their matriculation to college; seven percent more students graduating with a 3.0 GPA or higher; and three percent more students obtaining a score of 21 or higher on the ACT.
Recent state reports do not tell the full story. Ohio has changed how it rates its schools, which accounts for Cleveland’s F grades on Ohio’s most recent state report card; the state has adopted tougher standards, which results in lower grades, despite gains being made in some categories. The Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell found that, in fact, Cleveland’s performance has improved relative to other districts in Ohio. This shows that the initiatives put into place four years ago are working. We are seeing progress.
Additionally, the 2012 levy and the Cleveland Plan launched 18 new high school programs, increased the number of four-year-olds in quality preschools and brought more high quality schools to Cleveland neighborhoods. Investing in reforms has shown the District which schools are improving and which are failing – and it has been acknowledged that some failing schools cannot be saved. The levy and the Cleveland Plan have helped to highlight the strongest schools in the District, and the quality of these schools must continue to improve.
The Cleveland schools are not going to change overnight. The past four years of work, however, show us that progress is possible. Renewing the 2012 levy would serve to continue that progress, to institute new reforms and keep the forward momentum going.
It is important to note that a vote for Issue 108 will not increase taxes for those living in the city of Cleveland. Issue 108 is simply a renewal of a previous increase, so costs will remain the same.
Issue 108 will also allow the District to focus more intensely on upgrades to elementary and middle schools in the CMSD, after investing more resources into high schools over the last four years. At College Now, we know that the earlier students are successful, the more likely they are to persist to a postsecondary education. Investing in schools for younger students will demonstrate to them, and to their families, that education is valued at every level in the CMSD.
The renewal of this levy is vital to the future success of our students. If we want the progress being made in the Cleveland school to continue, we need to ensure that the District has the resources it needs to make these critical improvements. A vote for Issue 108 is a vote for our students, for their futures, for their success. We cannot stall the progress that has already been made, and we cannot deprive our students of this investment.
You can read more about the levy at www.keepgoingcleschools.com and learn about ways to get involved, including volunteering for the campaign, donating and requesting yard signs.