When it comes to submitting your applications, there are several application deadline options out there to choose from. Here is a basic overview of those deadlines:
Regular Decision (RD)
The deadline for regular decision applications is generally somewhere between January 1 and February 1. You will receive an admissions decision no later than April 1 and have until May 1 to make your final decision and confirm your enrollment.
Early Action (EA)
With Early Action you generally need to get your applications in by either November 1 or November 15. The nice thing is you will hear back from the schools as early as December or January, and still have until May to make your final decision.
Restrictive Early Action (REA)
This is similar to Early Action in that you apply to your school of choice and get a decision early. The catch is that you are restricted from applying ED or EA or REA to other schools. If you go this way, you’ll have until May 1 to confirm that you’ll attend.
Early Decision (ED)
The deadlines for ED are similar to Early Action; the difference is that Early Decision is a contract between you and the college. You agree that if the college accepts you, you’ll attend that college and withdraw all other applications. Because of this commitment, you can apply Early Decision to only one college.
With Rolling Admissions schools review the applications when they are submitted and make decisions throughout the admission cycle (usually within four to six weeks after they receive the application).
Keep in mind that admissions deadlines will vary from school to school. The only way to be sure about a college’s deadlines is to confirm the dates with each school you are applying to.
I often have people asking about scholarships, and for good reason. Scholarships are the best form of aid available because unlike loans, they don’t need to be repaid – they are free money! Most people don’t realize that the largest amount of scholarship dollars comes from the colleges themselves in the form of merit scholarships. Merit scholarships are awarded to students based on strong academic abilities, leadership skills, artistic or musical ability, and athletic abilities. And students can be awarded merit aid regardless of the family’s overall income or how much the family has saved for college. Unfortunately not all schools offer merit scholarships. You can find out if they do by looking on the websites or by contacting the financial aid office of the schools you’re interested in.
There are also “outside scholarships” – scholarships not awarded by the government or the school – and they exist for nearly every characteristic you can think of. Outside scholarships tend to be for small amounts of money, are a one-time award, and can require a significant amount of work in the form of an application, essays, etc. The best way to find these scholarships is to use an online search tool that compares your background with a database of awards. There are several free databases available online: The College Board; Fastweb; and Scholarships.com to name a few. You can also ask your guidance counselor about local scholarships.
Be aware that every college has an “outside scholarship” policy that specifies what happens to your need-based financial aid package when you win an outside scholarship. Outside scholarships are considered resources, meaning that they reduce your financial aid package dollar for dollar. Check the college’s website for their policy.
When it comes down to it, the best strategy for finding scholarships starts with building your college list. Apply to schools where you are likely to qualify for merit aid.
The needed break is on its way for students. The temperature is rising, motivation is dropping – only weeks remain in the classroom until school is let out for summer recess. While days spent sleeping in and heading to the pool are undoubtedly deserved, it is important for students to continue shaping their college applications during the summer months. Colleges want to see that students are spending their time doing something valuable and constructive, and unfortunately binge watching Netflix does not fall into this category. However, this isn’t to say that the summers need to be painful. Rather, the key is accentuating strengths and demonstrating involvement – preferably in areas that the student is passionate about.
One of the greatest fallacies that has spread amongst parents and students looking to “strengthen an application” is the belief that quantity trumps quality in the never-ending pursuit of being “well rounded.” However, the key to a constructive and beneficial summer in terms of the college admissions process is not to dive into a plethora of activities that you think “would look good,” but rather to involve yourself in areas that demonstrate something about yourself to a potential admissions counselor. The easiest way to think about this is to ask the “why” for the activities that you partake in. “Why did you volunteer at the children’s soccer camp?” “Because I enjoy kids and may want to major in Child Development.” “Why did you take a trip to Buenos Aires?” “Because the opportunity to volunteer also helped me advance my skills in Spanish.” The answer to these “why” questions should never be “I did it to build my resume” or “I did it to get my volunteer hours.” If the involvement feels empty and tiresome your summer will be miserable, and most admission counselors will see right through that anyway. Furthermore, it should not be assumed that to draw attention to your application you must partake in a mission trip halfway across the world, or the engineering camp at an Ivy League school (admissions counselors at these schools don’t take this into account anyway!). Community involvement is just as, if not more, valuable on a college application, and a student that pursues an internship tells a greater story than the expensive flight to Ethiopia for a week.
A couple of quick notes – because I know that a number of students will read the word “passion” and freeze up, discouraged by the stress of having to find their life’s calling before their biological clock strikes 18. For one, your summer involvement does not have to be your “life’s passion,” as many of you will be glad to know – especially should you be flipping burgers at the local restaurant or lifeguarding at the community pool. If the word “passion” gives you hives, think of it more as a consistent “story” or “theme” to your application. Think about what your involvement demonstrates. If you work the entire summer, an admissions counselor can draw the conclusion that you are hardworking and dedicated. If you read a lot of books, keep track of them in a journal and demonstrate that you are an avid learner. In the end, the summer should be rejuvenating and worthwhile. Invest in your passions, demonstrate involvement, and make a statement about your strengths. The only real killer is lethargy!
Undoubtedly you have heard about the recent admissions scandal in which authorities say the parents of some of the nation’s wealthiest and most privileged students sought to buy spots for their children at the big-name universities. I can assure you I am as shocked and sickened by this news as you are. It’s unbelievable to think that parents would go to such extremes to get their kids in to the big-name colleges.It’s also hard to grasp that there are people out there like William Rick Singer who are cheating the system.
March is the month when the last of the admissions decisions come rolling in. Most colleges are sending admissions decisions electronically these days, so seniors are anxiously checking their emails or logging into their accounts for each college constantly (some as often as every hour).