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College Applications Timeline - Early Bird to Last Minute

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

Applying to college can be as exciting and nerve-wracking as a rollercoaster ride, with twists, turns, and loops. But don't worry; we're here to make it feel more like an epic adventure and less like a stressful exam. Let's dive into the wild world of college applications and uncover the secrets about Early Action (EA), Restrictive Early Action (REA), Early Decision (ED1 and ED2), Regular Decision (RD), and Rolling Admissions.

  • Early Action (EA)

Picture this: EA is like the express lane at your favorite theme park. You get to skip the long lines and enjoy the thrill early on. EA lets you apply to multiple schools early, usually by November, and get your acceptance news as early as December. It's like opening a holiday present ahead of time!

Pros:

  • You can cast a wide net and apply to several EA schools.

  • Get your admission decision faster, beating the waiting game.

Cons:

  • EA is non-binding, so you may not have a clear advantage in terms of admission.

  • Some schools have rules limiting your early options (see REA).


  • Restrictive Early Action (REA)

With REA, you can apply to just one exclusive school early, usually in November, and get your decision before the rest of the crowd, but you don’t have to commit to attend. It’s a great way to show a school you’re serious about them without limiting your options.

Pros:

  • Shows your love for a specific school.

  • Early admission decision – less nail-biting.

Cons:

  • You can only pick one REA school.

  • Super competitive, due to the exclusivity of the schools.


  • Early Decision (ED1 and ED2)

Feeling the love? Early Decision is like proposing to your dream school. You're pledging your undying commitment to attend if they say "yes." There are two rounds: ED1 with a November deadline and ED2 with a January deadline. If they do indeed say yes, pack your bags! This is the one and only school for you.

Pros:

  • It's like a match made in heaven, with higher acceptance rates.

  • You'll get your answer faster than waiting for a text back.

Cons:

  • Binding means you're in, so you better do your due diligence in regards to affordability

  • Less room to play the field – your choice is locked in.


  • Regular Decision (RD)

For those who want to keep their options open, RD is the chill choice. You've got until at least January 1st to apply, and it's like enjoying the whole menu at your favorite diner before deciding on your order. You can compare schools and take your sweet time.

Pros:

  • Plenty of flexibility and options.

  • You can compare financial aid packages like a savvy shopper.

Cons:

  • The waiting game is real, with decisions coming later.

  • You're mingling with the crowd, facing more competition.


  • Rolling Admissions

Rolling Admissions is even more laid-back than regular decision. Colleges review your application as soon as it arrives, and you'll get an acceptance until they run out of spots. It's like getting last-minute tickets to a surprise concert – super spontaneous.

Pros:

  • No strict deadline, you can apply whenever you want

  • Quick answers, often popping into your inbox within weeks

Cons:

  • Spots fill up fast

  • Some rolling admission schools are pickier than others, so be on your A-game.


So, which admission option is for you? The right choice depends on your unique circumstances, goals, and the colleges you've selected. Dive in, have fun, and embrace the adventure that is the college application process. And remember, the most important thing is to be yourself – that's the key to finding the perfect match in your college journey!






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