Notes on Applying Early

We know…we have been terrible bloggers the past couple months.

Life at Lowell Catholic has been nonstop busy.  From freshman orientation, to PSATs, to the College Fair, and to everything else that comes up during the course of a high school day, we haven’t had a lot of time to devote to our blog.  As we look ahead, life will continue to be busy, but hopefully we can manage the occasional post.  We love getting information that we feel is important out to you!

One of the reasons counselors have been so busy is the large number of LC seniors who apply to college early.  To date, nearly 60% of the senior class has sent out one or more college applications.  I think back to my first year as a school counselor and think maybe 20% of my students applied early.  Our students are on the ball!  We get so many questions on applying early that we thought it made sense to devote a post to the dos and don’ts of applying early.

The biggest question is:  What is the difference between early action (EA) and early decision (ED)?  Early decision is a binding agreement.  If a student applies ED and is accepted they are contractually obligated to attend that school.  Many seniors aren’t ready to make that kind of commitment to a school, and that’s fine.  Another piece to consider is the financial side.  Again, if you get in, that’s where you are going.  You have to withdraw all other applications, which means you won’t have any other financial aid packages to compare to the one your dream school sends you.  Scary, right?

That said, ED can be a great option for students who are absolutely sure they want to attend a certain school.  Colleges love seeing a student so invested in their school, so they may overlook slightly below average test scores, or a bit lower GPA than they typically look for.  I have seen it pay off for students in the past…you just have to be aware of the risks involved!

So then what is Early Action?  It’s simple – you apply early, you hear a decision early (usually before Christmas break).  Sounds perfect, right?  It is, if you are ready to hit submit by the deadline.

I think students feel pressure to apply early action, and that doesn’t need to be the case.  There is nothing wrong with applying by a regular deadline.  I have had students rush through their applications and their essays in order to get an application in by November 1st.  Not a good idea!  College applications take time.  They aren’t hard, but they require a lot of careful thought, especially for the schools that require additional essays.  Careless mistakes can cost you!  Take your time!

What questions do you have about applying early?  Feel free to post a comment below!

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3 thoughts on “Notes on Applying Early

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