Admissions Officer Advice: Preparing for Early Action and Early Decision Deadlines

Early Decision and Early Action deadlines are almost here! Join former Admissions Officer and expert Joanne Gueverra Pluff as she shares tips and advice to finish strong for the early deadlines. This will be a 30-minute presentation followed by a 30-minute live Q&A. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!

Date 10/04/2022
Duration 1:00:52

Webinar Transcription

2022-10-04 – Admissions Officer Advice: Preparing for Early Action & Early Decision Deadlines

Hi everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on Admissions Officer Advice: Preparing for Early Action and Early Decision Deadlines. I’m McKenzie and I’ll be your moderator tonight. So if you have any tech issues, you can message me and I’ll be dropping some, um, information in the public chat. But to orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation, then answer your questions on live Q&A on the sidebar.

You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions on the Q&A tab. Now let’s meet our panelist. Hi everybody, my name’s Joanne Pluff. I’m a former Admission Officer at Hamilton College as well as Utica College. Currently, right now I work at Howard University, um, in enrollment management.

Great. And real quick, we’re just gonna do a poll. So what grade are you currently in? Eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, or 12th or other. And if, um, for other, you can be a transfer student or taking a gap year and if you’re a parent on call, you can select the grade that your student is going into. But real quick, Joanne, can you tell us, because some people think that applying early means applying in like 10th grade or 11th grade.

Can you explain what it means? Um, to apply early and when it takes place? Sure. So applying early in your, in for an application, we’re really talking about early in your senior year. So definitely there are some exceptions which I’ll get into, but we are truthfully talking about senior year, unless you’ve done some type of accelerated, um, program at your high school.

You’re talking about 12th grade and or your PG year. If you took a PG year, um, right after high school. Mm-hmm. So it’s looking like we have 4% ninth graders, 10% 10th graders, 38% 11th graders, 44% 12th graders making up the majority, and 4% other. Awesome. And you can control the slide. Cool. So I’m really excited to hear from our seniors and juniors.

I hope you all are doing well. Um, parents, definitely. I know that this is one of the most stressful things that we ask our students to do, but we’re so excited that you’re able to join us. Um, my job is really based on supporting students when they arrive into college, and it’s crazy to think that we put a lot of pressure on our 18 year olds to, uh, to come up with this decision.

But, um, as McKenzie said, we’re gonna dive right into this and I hope to help you. And just kind of go over any of those specific questions that you might have. So as we were talking about timelines, um, just looking at specifically the two main admissions timelines. So typically our students are applying their senior year from November to February.

Now, I will say this with a caveat that there is always an exception to the rule. So I’m working with a couple of students now who have applied to Auburn, just so we’re all aware that application was due on September 15th. So for students that are considering possibly Auburn University, that’s something that you should be clued into.

Another, uh, exception to that rule is Florida State. So Florida in-state, students are required to apply by 10/15. So that deadline is looming just over, uh, 10 days from today. I also will add for students that are looking at possibly performing arts or, um, a conservatory, you might be required to start your application process the summer before your senior year.

Typically, a lot of those schools will have their auditions at some point in the summer, um, and they’ll usually give you the yay or na, whether or not to continue on with your application. So it’s important that you do take a look, um, and identify the schools that you want to apply to prior to senior year so that you can create a spreadsheet and keep track of when those deadlines come up.

All right, so, Obviously now you’ve probably heard of all of our different acronyms within the higher educational world. So the first acronyms that you probably come across are EA, ED, and then possibly SEA, um, and RED. So for those who don’t know early decision, um, that’s kind of the most, uh, and I would say well known one.

So for students who are applying early decision, it means that you’ve decided on this college that is a binding contract, so your parent has to sign as well as your guidance counselor. You apply to one school and if you’re accepted to that school, That’s where you gotta go. So any of those other applications you would not be able to do, um, and or accept their offer of admission.

Then we also have EA, which is early action. So early action just means you’re applying a little bit earlier, um, to kind of take some of that pressure off. And you can apply to as many early action schools as you want. But there is such a thing called, um, single choice Early Action. So for some schools you can do SCE a, which means you can apply to that school, but you cannot apply to any, You can apply single early action to.

One private school, but you cannot apply to any other public universities. So it is non-binding and you do receive early notification. However, they require that you don’t do any other, um, private early action applications. I know that one is super confusing. Um, but it’s just to remember if you’re doing single choice, it means you can apply to one school early action.

Um, that is a private school. And then we have restrictive early action. So that’s EA So it’s applying to one school, restrictive, but it’s not binding. So it means you’re very, very interested. However, there may be some extenuating circumstances, so perhaps you didn’t go through with the, um, traditional early decision.

And then of course, like I said, early decision is binding. You apply to one school and if you were accepted, you are required to attend that school. You can’t exit an early decision, uh, contract if it comes down to financials, but that is a discussion, um, that you do have to have the school, with the school after, um, your decision has been submit.

So, um, I get this question a lot, um, specifically about chances of a student being admitted. So yes. Um, for your highly selective schools, they typically, it does increase your chance of being admitted because you’re seen in that you’re being seen in that first pool of applicants. Um, there is a smaller applicant pool.

Not everybody is keen on early decision, but it also is the highest indicator that you would like to attend that school. So, early decision really tells a school that you are hungry and you are ready to be part of that community. So if at school is measuring demonstrated interest, early decision, is that number one factor.

I know I have a couple people sending me, um, some chats. Unfortunately I can’t answer them. I have too many that are coming in, but Ms. McKenzie is in the background and she’s happy to assist you, um, directly. So, pros, um, of applying early decisions. So, like I said, um, it’s the highest indicator of your demonstrated interest.

So if you’re looking at schools like the Ivy’s, they typically do not look at demonstrated interests. But for some of those smaller private liberal arts, um, or just high, um, admission schools, they do look at demonstrated interests. So this would be one check box, um, that you’d be able to know. My favorite part of early decision is that you are done prior to the end of the year.

So imagine, you know, seniors, I know you’re all in this boat now. Um, you’re going through the process kind of like on a massive steam train to the end. You would know prior to, uh, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza that if you’ve been accepted. So it’s a great feeling to know, um, going into the new year. And then of course if you’re applying to a major that is in high demand, um, this would put you in that fir first applicants pool.

So if you’re applied and admitted, you know, automatically you have a spot, you won’t have to be on a wait list for some of the other top majors at your school.

Yes. And now we’re gonna do another quick poll. So where are you in the application process? Haven’t started. I’m researching schools. I’m working on my essays. I’m getting my application materials together. Or if you’re really lucky, I’m almost done. And while we wait for those, uh, Joy, can you tell us, do senior year grades matter if you’re applying early?

So typically senior year grades don’t matter, but some schools might request, um, a progress report. So while they officially don’t matter because they’re not listed on your transcript, some of those schools will require your guidance counselor to send an update. So, We always tell students, uh, yes, we look, you’re heavily waiting on ninth grade through 11th grade with the caveat that a school can request a midyear report or an update of grades, um, for your guidance counselor to send and it could, um, impact your decision.

Mm-hmm. So it’s looking like we have 26% haven’t started. 20, uh, another 26% are researching schools. 24% are working on their essays. 19% are getting their application materials together and 5% the lucky if you are almost done. Awesome. So those of you that are almost done, kudos. Um, and then of course for those who are still working through the process, you still do have a lot of time.

Typically, the early action, early decision deadlines are on or around November 1st, um, to November 15th. So you do have a little bit of. So, um, cons of applying early decision. Um, so this is a really interesting topic. Um, so the number one being that the application is binding. Like I had started to say this is a crazy process that we put on the shoulders of 18 year olds.

Um, I don’t know about you McKenzie. Um, I was a lucky person. I chose the major I wanted. Um, and I have sucked with that major. I double majored and continued on to get advanced degrees within that field. But not every student, um, is committed to their major. So it is a lot of pressure to put on the student to apply knowing that for some schools if you apply to a major you can’t transfer into another.

Also only being able to select one school, um, it’s tough. So some of you could be like Goldilocks, maybe, you know, you’re looking for more of a vibe and not a small school versus a, a large school or a rural versus, um, a city school. So you’re really kind of. Your decision is limited because you don’t have as many options, um, in selection and being obligated to attend when school is also difficult and it is a lot of pressure upfront.

The early deadline for application submission is also tough as well. So for our student athletes or those who are very active in your community, it means that you have less time to work on your application as that deadline, like we said, is really around the beginning of November. And of course, if you’re looking to apply early decision and the school requires SATs or ACTs, it would mean that you would have to have your official scores by now.

So by October, I think the last SAT was last weekend. Um, so really you should have taken the SAT or ACT now because with most schools, your application and materials are required to be submitted. Um, on that,

All right. So pros of early action. So truth be told, um, early action is definitely my favorite form of application submission because it’s non-binding. It allows the student to definitely have, um, a plethora of schools that they’re applying to. But I really and truly believe in the early notification, um, whether it’s acceptance or denial.

So I’m working with a couple of students now. I always plus really action because you’re not committed to a school priority notification of application, but you also get priority notification of your financial aid package. So if everything has gone well and your parents, um, and your guardians that filled out the FAFSA, it means that you’ll get your financial aid package soon.

So if money is a factor, it’s important for you to have those financials upfront so you can work with your financial institution and or family to make sure that, um, you’re able to afford it. The acceptance rate of, um, both early action and early decision are a little bit higher. Because like I said, this is the biggest way for you to demonstrate that you are really interested in the school.

It also creates less stress. So I will tell you, um, it’s a different, McKenzie could probably attest, it’s a different conversation when we talk to our students after submitting applications, right? So we start working on scholarships, talking about financial aid. But I think there is so much stress put on the whole college search process that once you submit the applications, life is really different.

Uh, family conversations change. It’s, it’s no longer have you completed this application, that supplement, have you, have you contacted this admission officer? Um, it’s not a lot of chasing and it’s more time for you to, to, to just chill out. Um, and if you’re like me, um, I like to prepare ahead of time, so, I did an early action application to my alma mater.

Um, and the reason being is I wanted more time to like mentally get prepared for college, and I don’t like goodbyes, so it was tough for me. Right? So I went to a pretty large high school. Um, I was very involved in clubs and activities and I wanted the extra time to prepare to know where I was going and then figure out how I was gonna stay connected to home.

And then of course, I think the most, um, important pro of applying early action is it gives you time to reassess. So, for example, if you don’t get admitted to any of those schools, you do have time to submit some regular decision applications at the beginning of January and or to schools that have rolling a.

All right. And what are the cons of applying early action? Um, I would say your application is due sooner, but I think it’s all doable for students who are organized. Um, organization definitely is the name of the game. So if you’re able to get yourself organized to submit three or four early action applications, you’re in really good shape.

Common App has really changed the game for so many students because it’s not like you’re duplicating all of your efforts and filling out completely new applications. You’re just doing one. So I don’t really have a lot of, um, cons to applying early action because I really do think it’s an excellent option for students, both financially, mental health wise, um, and for your.

All right, so the pros of applying regular decision, So this I think, goes back again to our student athletes. So students who are being heavily recruited and they need some time to determine, you know, where they’re going to play. It gives you that time to do that. So that January, mid-February decision deadline, it really allows a students to research to get to know, um, and to really figure out where they want to be.

Perhaps you, um, waited a little bit long and you did not take your SATs early in your junior year or even late in your junior year. Early Action and regular decision allows you to take the test. Um, you can probably still take that December test date to get scores in for, um, that regular decision. And then of course, if you’re a student, that’s kind of choosing in between a lot of majors and careers, it gives you the time to research majors, careers as well as career paths and mapping.

So if perhaps you have an idea of what you wanna do, but you don’t know how to get there, it gives you extra time to do that, which is always, um, very much appreciated. And then, um, just cons of applying regular decision, um, the later notifications. So typically if you are applying for a decision around, um, a deadline around February 15th, the beginning of January, it means your timeline is shorter.

So for those students, um, typically decisions are sent out around college spring break, which is usually around, um, St. Patrick’s Day in March. So from that time to May 1st is how long you have to decide where you’re going to be. For some students, that’s okay, and for others it’s not. Okay. So for if you are a student that takes a long time to make a decision, or if you college decision is really a family decision, it definitely gives you more time to work that out with your family.

If you’re applying earlier. And then of course, just kind of thinking about what I was saying about preparing to go to college, cause I don’t like to say goodbye. Um, you have a shorter timeline to do so. So I was mentally prepared. I think I was in the right state of mind to, um, move on to college because I gave myself some extra months at home, um, and got those extra goodbyes in before heading away.

So how can students figure out the best course of action for themselves? Um, I really think it’s a conversation with your guidance counselor and your family. So talking with your family to see what the priorities are. If financials play a really large role, um, that’s something that you would need to consider and have a great conversation with them.

If you are looking at a school or you know, you’re close to the gpa but they require SATs or acts, and it will be a little bit of a stretch, it definitely. It, it is helpful to take the time to evaluate the best application for you. Sometimes, um, those early decision pools are filled with very, um, overqualified students, so it will give you some time, um, applying regular decision, but that is really in the eye of the beholder.

So each case will be very different. And then, like I said, take into consideration athletic recruitment. Um, some coaches like to know early and require you to apply early, and then others say that you don’t have to have your decision until May 1st. So it really is a huge conversation with your family, um, your academic goals, as well as your extracurricular goals to figure out what course of action is best for you.

All right, so la what lasting advice would I give, um, between students, uh, applying early and regular? Um, I think it’s really down to organization for either so. , Uh, here at CollegeAdvisor, we definitely work with our students to create a very comprehensive spreadsheet, um, that details the acceptance rate, determines whether it’s a reach match, a target, um, as well as their deadlines.

And we do a lot of research to figure out what would be the best for the student. I always suggest that my students do at least one early action school because it’s kind of like a quick burn, right? Like you wanna figure out where you’ll be. And it’s kind of nice to have, um, one in your back pocket to know that you do have a place for the fall.

If you’re a student that’s considering finances. Um, applying early will also give you access to typically more scholarship money. Um, and again, like I said, with demonstrated interest, it really, really truly proves to a school that you would like to be there. And typically a lot of merit is based off of, um, your decision, your application.

Yes. So that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you find this information helpful. And remember, again, that you can download the slide from the link in the handouts tab. And this webinar is being recorded. If you would like to view this information again later on our website at

Um, moving on to live Q&A are re the or questions you submit in the Q&A tab and, um, before our panelist gives you an answer. As a heads up, if your Q&A tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom links sent to your email and not from the webinar landing page, also known as the website or else you won’t get all the feature of big marker.

So, yeah. Um, and real quick, uh, some of the information I put in the public chat, so, um, I have some links, uh, for, uh, more information on the admissions process. Uh, the definition of a PG year is postgrad year. Oh, sorry. Um, a lot of people call it a gap year. Um, What else? Uh, also, uh, to figure out if your school has early decision, early action, regular, and all the deadlines and stuff, you have to go to their website.

We’re not gonna be telling you every school specific deadlines or what they offer. You have to just go to their website to find out that information. I applied early decision for Cornell University, which is an Ivy League and early action for Howard University, which is the HBCU. Um, and I got into both, but since I was, um, ED for Cornell, I had to resin my application from Howard despite getting a full ride.

So that was a choice. Um, and so like, so hard, McKenzie I, I do not regret my decision. People look at me crazy for that one, but, um, . But, um, with Cornell as, um, Joanne. Mention with picking your major and stuff. It may be hard. When I was looking at my school as Cornell did offer, um, at, at least in the College of Human Ecology, it did offer a lot of majors I was interested in, and the process to switch majors was relatively easy, especially since you don’t declare your major until sophomore year for real.

Um, so I was able to switch majors, um, and yeah, and then also the Ivy’s. Only Harvard, Princeton, and Yale offer single choice early action. Every other Ivy mostly only offers early decision and regular decision. Okay. That was all the information in the public chat. Okay. Going onto the Q&A, um, uh, what kind of students should apply early and how does a student know if their application is ready to submit early?

So there’s no. There’s no like bell that goes off once you’re, once you’re done with your application. But what we tell our students is read through your application multiple times. Um, you can download a PDF of your application, of your common app from the portal and ask somebody to review it with you.

When we say it’s, it’s ready, it means that you filled out the profile to its completeness. You’ve added all your list of extracurriculars, you’ve submitted your common app essay, um, and somebody has proof. Read that essay quite a few times and then of course you, um, submit your part and then the high school guidance team will submit the rest of the application, aka your school report.

So there’s no way for us to tell you specifically when your application is ready. I would say when you feel as though it’s been reviewed. But with this new pdf, um, that you can download, it really gives you the ability to share the application with multiple people, which I believe that everybody should do.

Mm-hmm. . Uh, okay. So another student is asking, um, I know. Okay. Um, if you see any questions that you like, you can feel free to answer them. Yeah. Um, so there’s one that I see here. How should I research, um, and, and organize my application process? So this is a, this is a great question. So we usually, typically use Google Sheets.

Um, we list the colleges on the left, and then across the top we have a bunch of different tabs. So you would do a tab for the school name, location, acceptance rates, um, average gpa, average SAT, uh, the size of the school, and then the type of, um, applications they offer, where the deadline, and then finally any notes.

So when I am assisting a student and they come to me with a list, I say, Please fill this out. And then jot down any notes that, um, that pertain to the. Then we research the school. So there’s the notes and then there’s the research. So typically after talking with the students, you kind of get a feel for what they’re looking for.

So I’ll go through, um, and hunt and pick, like, I have a student who really loves libraries. That’s just for jam. So, um, any kind of research I was doing, I would be like, Hey, you know, da da da. I just wanted to tell you, like, this library is located in Long Island, um, and they have a coffee shop called Witches Brew.

She’s really into Harry Potter. So that was something that she really loved about it. Um, and then, uh, once you fill that all in, we recommend creating a list of your extracurriculars so that you can, uh, rank them from one to 10 and then start working on those 150 word, um, descriptions for them. So typically we use a Google sheet.

It, it’s kind. The easiest way for us to organize. Um, and then of course you can start doing tabs for all sorts of things. So you can do financial aid information, loan indebtedness, um, but this is all information that your CollegeAdvisor from our team would be able to help you prepare. Mm-hmm. . Uh, so another student’s asking through the Common App, can schools see what other schools you’re applying early action to or the decision to, et cetera.

That’s a great sneaky question. So we used to be able to, um, when the common app went on digital, we used to be able to see who you were applying to, but now we can’t. Um, and the same goes for the FAFSA. So we know there’s 10 schools for both. You, we do not know, um, at what point or where you rank. Cuz that would be unlawful because you could say, you know, if McKenzie only had Cornell in her top spots, maybe she only really wants to go there and maybe Joanne had it at seventh.

So we’re not gonna admit Joanne, but we’re gonna admit McKenzie. A couple of years ago, they changed the rules because that was kind of Vicky. So we decided that, uh, we would remove that from the admission process. Mm-hmm, great question. Another student is asking, do colleges favor students who turn in their application early, like a week before the early app, early action deadlines, like literally turning it in early

Uh, that’s a another great question. Um, I don’t think so. Uh, we really are just looking for complete applications, so it’s great if your application is early, but it’s even better if your application is completed. So, I don’t think that that weighs as much. Um, if, if you wanna turn it in early and you’re ready, power to you, it’s definitely a great feeling to hit that submit button.

Yes, definitely don’t wait until the day of probably to submit just because that’s stressful for you and you have to pay as you’re submitting, which can be hard if you have to run and go find a credit card or something to pay for it. I know a few of my students did that at the very last second, so don’t do that.

Um, but some schools do, um, review applications on a rolling basis Sure. Or something like that. So, um, if you submit yours earlier than admissions officers will be able to see your sooner. And then also, um, financial aid is probably more important to submit as early as possible. Um, so getting that done, Uh, especially for schools that had merit based aid, where um, they’re on a first come, first serve basis where funding could run out the later you wait.

Uh, going on to the next question, um, a student is asking, Okay, so I’m seeing, oh my gosh. I’m seeing a lot of questions on, um, Okay. Uh, the only thing hindering me from submitting, uh, ED versus, uh, regular decision are my grades, my senior year, first semester grades will, um, will boost my gpa. Um, should I, uh, try early or just do regular?

That’s an interesting question. I have a student, um, kind of in the same boat that they would need their senior year grades to kind of show that they have been on an upper trajectory. So in this student’s case, I would wait, um, if the, your senior year grades are going to positively impact your gpa, I would.

Um, if you decide to submit, um, this is a really good opportunity for your counselor, whoever’s doing your recommendation to talk about that journey, um, of transformation, that you are on an upward path. But in the case of this student, I would wait, um, especially if that g those grades will help your gpa.

Mm-hmm. , and I saw another student asking if, um, which schools, um, will ask for the mid-year reports. Um, schools will list that usually on their admissions website. Like if you go to their admissions deadlines, you can find out if they offer early action, early decision, regular action, all their different, um, requirements and things.

Not every school offers early action, um, or early decision for some schools. Um, most schools have regular decision, um, and rolling admissions. Um, and then, um, what am I call it? So you can find out more information, uh, on their website. And then also with most schools nowadays, you are given access to, um, your admission portal.

And once you submit your application, you’ll get a login for that. So you’ll see what they require. So perhaps if it’s not listed directly on the school’s website, it would be listed in your, the admission portal. So it’s important. Uh, I always tell my students to keep check of the passwords on a Google document.

Um, just so you can kind of go there as quickly as possible to see if you need to update anything. I do know for the Ivy’s though, that they do ask for that, um, report and some even ask for your, um, spring semester senior year. Um, and there have been students in the past who have either like dropped all of their hard classes or started flunking their classes, um, spring semester, senior year cuz of senioritis or because they already got into their colleges and then the schools took away their, uh, acceptance.

So still do good throughout high school, like graduate. Well, absolutely, and it may not like explicitly say in the app, the letter of admission that your, your offer will be, um, rescinded, but it might say based on uh, successful completion of high school. Right. So we as colleges are admitting you based on your current grades.

So if you drop in grades, that is not successful completion. So it is really important to pay attention to that. , Kind of similar to that. Uh, should a student apply regular if they are waiting for test scores or trying to improve their test scores? Like for the SAT ACT? So if the test score is going to positively impact you, um, yes, you should apply regular.

And if you’re looking to see if that score is going to boost, um, and move you, you know, if you think it’s significant, um, I would wait and do regular decision. Mm-hmm. , uh, again, you can find out more about what schools offer. The Ivy’s don’t offer rolling admissions. Um, okay. So going on to the next question of students asking, So are you saying you can simultaneously do early decision, early action and thinking they’re going off of my example?

Yeah. So technically you can, Right? So in McKenzie’s case, she applied early decision. Even if you’re accepted early action, you can only ED if you’re financially able to pay, you’re required to attend the early decision school. You would have to demonstrate to the college why you can’t pay, um, and to break that contract.

So yes, you can. Um, and in her case, not that I didn’t think you were gonna get in McKenzie, but as applying to an Ivy, you don’t know what could happen. Um, luckily she got in, but she was also having a backup, which is a good backup in Howard. Um, but she wanted a backup to make sure that she still had a home.

So you can apply early action, but you won’t be able to attend if you’re admitted early decision. Mm-hmm. . And then my plan was if I didn’t get into Cornell, I was still gonna apply regular decision to a few other schools. Uh, just so I would know. Um, if with early action you still can apply to other schools and for most schools with regular just plain old early action, you can apply to as many schools early action as you want to.

Same with regular decision. With the single choice early action, different schools have different stipulations. The Ivy’s have their own process for that. The Ivy’s that I listed that offer it. And then with restrictive early action, some schools say you can’t apply to another school, restrictive early action, just read the fine prints so you aren’t missing anything up.

Yeah, you have to recognize I’m doing blanket statements for the majority. There are definitely exceptions to every single one of these. Um, with, I would say the exception of, um, early decision. You got admitted you gotta go there. But with some of the restrictive single choice, there are different stipulations.

Mm-hmm. . Um, uh, do all schools do deferrals for early action applicants or are you more likely to be deferred or rejected? Again, that’s kind of gonna be, um, a more school by school. So if you defer, um, from early action and are you, you’re put into regular decision, you may or may not be better in the regular decision pool.

Um, I’ve read a lot of applicants where I’ve deferred their decision to regular, and I’ve found that, you know, based on midyear reports or additional scores that it has boosted their, um, application and we did find them a viable candidate. Truthfully, that’s gonna be a case by case basis, so it, I would recommend reaching out directly to the school’s, um, admission office to, to get their guidance.

Mm-hmm. another student, and I’m gonna combine these questions, but one student’s asking, if you get rejected from an early action school, can you reapply to that school regular decision? And then another student is asking, if you’re deferred, can you update your application? If you’re deferred, you can’t update your application.

Um, if you’re rejected an early action, typically you can’t apply. Um, the deferment is usually the one that allows you to continue on to regular decision. So once you get that decision of denial, um, typically you cannot re-enter the pool. But if you’re deferred, yes, you can, um, go into regular and you are encouraged to send updated scores or new AP examinations, like submit as much new positive information to your application as possible.

Um, I definitely think that helps your chance. Mm-hmm. . Okay, so it is October 4th and admissions deadlines are starting to come up in the next month. Uh, some schools may even start on Halloween, uh, through um, mid-November. So a student’s asking if I haven’t started a college essay, can I finish it before early action deadline.

Yeah, uh, yeah, you can . It’s definitely something that you’ll have to focus on. I don’t know about you, McKenzie, but typically my students go through about four iterations of their college essay. Um, so I’ll read it. Uh, my partner like McKenzie would read it. Uh, then we usually have like the parents step in and do, um, around then I’ll come back in and read and then finally, um, ending with McKenzie.

So it’s definitely possible you just will need to focus. Um, so put in a good solid weekend or four day. I think we’ve got a three day weekend coming up here in a couple of weeks. You can do it. Um, and then simultaneously you’ll still have to work on your profile, your common app profile, or the school specific application, but it is absolutely possible to.

Mm-hmm. for me, when I was applying, I was in a summer program that was helping me throughout the admissions process. If you’re a current junior, check out thrive, uh, or sophomore, anything younger. Um, but the application is junior year, but anywho, uh, so we started working on our essays in, um, summer, and then I had one version of it throughout the whole summer that was done, but then rereading it again, I realized that I hated that essay.

So I started writing it over again about August. And then that essay wasn’t good either. So by September I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to write for my personal statement. And I, um, finally found a topic and then I wrote that essay. It. Me into like October, like mid-October I was done. And then I submitted my applications on Halloween my senior year.

Um, so that was a fun way to spend the holiday. And then, um, I was able to get everything done and Halloween was a day before the, uh, deadlines for both schools. So always just apply before the deadlines so you aren’t stressed. Um, so yeah, so it is possible, it is better to have more time so you can go through those reiteration and figure out what essay really fits for you and have that time to edit it, but it isn’t impossible.

Uh, going up to the next question I saw student ask, um, are letters of recommendations still important, um, when you’re applying? Uh, oh for EA and ED are recommendation letters as important as in regular. Uh, the answer to that is yes. Um, so if the school requires a letter of recommendation, they’re basically looking to affirm anything that’s found in your application, whether it’s your character, uh, list of uh, extracurricular activities and or your academic ability.

So if they require, um, letters of recommendation, then they’re important, and that that doesn’t, that doesn’t matter whether it’s early action, early decision, regular decision, any of the combination of the above. Mm-hmm. and I listed the, um, scholars program in the chat, Uh, you apply junior year. Um, going on to the next question, kind of going off of that, um, for those applying early, um, do letters of recommendation have to be from junior year teachers since they would’ve known you the whole year and your senior year teachers, you’d only known for a short period.

So typically colleges require, um, one from your guidance counselor, and then one. Uh, professor or teacher from a core class. So I always recommend, um, you know, depends on what time you’re applying, right? So if you’re applying early action, find a junior year teacher, um, or second semester sophomore year teacher that can, uh, really, uh, enhance your application.

Um, you don’t have to go at it thinking like, I’m gonna get the Calc teacher because that’s the hardest class I have this year. I would say find the person that’s going to represent you well. Um, it, it, I wouldn’t have selected a ninth grade teacher, but I would say sophomore year and above, um, that would be a more appropriate person.

Mm-hmm. . Uh, so yeah, so for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know that the admissions process is overwhelming for parents and students alike, especially when trying to figure out if you’re gonna apply early to any schools or if regular decision would be a better option. Figuring out your financial situations and getting your application.

Vacation together, our team of over 300 former admissions officers such as Joanne and current admissions officers, uh, and uh, admissions experts such as myself are ready to help you and your family navigate it all in one-on-one advising sessions. Uh, take charge of your family’s, uh, admissions journey by signing up for free strategy session with an admissions expert using the QR code on the screen.

It’ll take you to a link where you can schedule with, um, someone from our team, um, to find out more about our plans and services that we offer here at CollegeAdvisor. Our services are not free. Our web. Our webinars and our blog are free if you would like to check out more of those. But our services in particular are not.

Um, but by signing up for CollegeAdvisor, you can get, you will get, uh, support throughout the whole admissions process. You’ll get an advisor that gets to know you very well, so they can really help guide you in the admissions process. I know for me, I really love taking the time to chat with my students, um, just so I can get an idea of what their personality is.

And so I can see how that can be reflected in areas of their application, figure out what their interests are and help point them in the right direction for different schools, especially if they are considering ED, to really make sure that they are set on that school. Um, so sign up for CollegeAdvisor again.

Buy skin in the QR code on the screen. Now back to the Q&A . Okay, so, um, okay, so a student is asking how early are the applications available to start working on? Yeah, so typically applications open August 1st. That’s the soonest that common app, um, will let us get really started on that. So the cool thing is you can already work on your common app profile though.

So if you want to open a common app account and start working on your profile, it’s pretty basic stuff. So it’s gonna have some demographic information about you, information about your parents, and then once the schools open their application, you’ll be able to select and that add them, um, to your applicant file.

So August versus usually it, but um, for our juniors, I don’t know about you McKenzie. I start my juniors working on that common app profile in. I don’t believe it. Well, I, I probably told them to do that and then they waited. Um, but you can, uh, start filling in the general information and then it’ll roll over when the official application for the year you’re applying to opens.

Um, for current seniors, the application has already been opened for about two months now. Um, so you do wanna start getting that demographic information and getting your, um, getting your, what is that thing account set up if you haven’t already, as well as with the FAFSA and, um, CSS profile, which opened, uh, three days ago.

Mm-hmm. . Um, so yeah, so those are some things you can start doing now. Um, so another student’s asked me, What do you think a good average number of colleges we should apply to? And how would you, um, split that between early action, early decision, and regular decision? So common apple’s 10. So we believe here that 10 is good.

Um, now I will say that I have had a student that applied to 20 Do not do that to yourself. That is, it’s not necessary. It, it’s just going to add extra stress to your life. I could make a argument for 12, um, but 10 really is the optimal number. Um, so the split between early regular, um, EA, sorry, ED and regular.

So obviously you’re doing one ED. Um, generally we tell students if they can apply early action without having to do any additional supplements, such as, um, essays, resumes, things like that. There’s no reason for you not to apply early action, especially if your essay is done in time. So, We don’t know, Like we said, we have no idea what, um, or how many schools that you’ve applied to.

So you can probably do as many as you want early action. And then, you know, if the decisions for regular really are in January, February, that’s totally fine as well. Um, but I wouldn’t place the emphasis on like an even breakdown. I would say it’s based on your student’s ability to finish the application process.

So if there aren’t, like I said, additional supplements, you can definitely, um, get that application submitted early action, and I would do it for as many schools as possible. Mm-hmm. , Uh, now we’re gonna go into some financial aid and scholarship questions, but Sure. Um, where is it? Okay. Does your financial aid have to be completed sooner in order to apply?

So some schools do have an application deadline if you’re applying early decision. Um, so my school in particular, your um, deadline for submitting your financial aid is December 1st. Will we dock you? No, but it is a requirement, meaning when your decision comes out, you will not get your financial aid information.

So typically we like to send those things together. So whether it’s a scholarship or um, your full financial aid package, it’s important for your family to start working on the, um, CSS profile or FAFSA as soon as possible. Mm-hmm. , Uh, going on to next question, do you get more scholarships or financial aid by applying early?

So some of those scholarship pools, um, do dry up, um, especially if they’re endowed scholarships. I would venture to guess McKenzie got the presidential scholarship. Yeah. Yes. So we only have, um, a few amount of students that receive that scholarship. So if you’re applying early, it definitely puts you in that category, especially before looking at private schools that have endowed scholarships.

Those scholarships will be depleted by, um, earlier in the year. Mm-hmm. . So, and some schools may even say that they are in a first come, first serve basis. I know Spelman College set that on their website. So always make sure to get the financial aid in for particularly the merit based schools. Um, needs based schools as well, but especially for merit based schools.

Um, from what I’ve seen. Uh, going on to the next question, another student is asking, um, do you forfeit financial aid when you apply early decision? I think there needs to be some clarification there. . No, no, no, no, no. You don’t forfeit financial aid when you apply early decision. So, For all of you in the room, um, you should go on and review.

Each college has a net price calculator and that is a general way of finding out, um, what you would probably pay to go to the college. So we, when I say, um, early decision is binding, it means that because you’ve applied, you have to attend. The only thing that would break that agreement is if you financially cannot afford it.

So the students at I council, I refuse for any decision applications to be submitted unless you have done the FAFSA as well, or sorry, the net price calculator because you wanna know what you are in for. Um, it’s not that it’s a bad look to apply early decision and then back out. You just don’t want to take somebody else’s spot, right?

So as much as you are trying to get ahead, so are other students. So I always tell students, don’t waste their time. If you’re applying early decision, make sure you can afford it, make sure it fits within your family budget. Mm-hmm. , Uh, going on to the next question. Can you negotiate financial aid if you apply early decision, early action, regular decision?

Is it better to apply regular decision if financial aid is a concern? So I would say it’s regular. It’s better to apply early action if financial aid is a concern, not early decision. Um, and I wouldn’t call it bartering, I would say, um, up for discussion. So some schools will allow you to, um, come back to them and say, you know, this is not financially affordable and here’s why, and others don’t.

Again, that’s research that you would have to do because it varies from school to school. So there are extenuating circumstances. For example, at my institution, you know, Covid played a factor in a lot of our family’s lives. So if one parent wasn’t working and the FAFSA was based off of the income from last year, Then you would not be able to afford, um, going to a place like Howard.

However, if something else happens or you know, you have another student entering college while your student is there, you can talk to the financial aid, um, office about maybe adjusting that. There is no guarantee, of course, what they will say or what they will do. Um, but it’s definitely worth a conversation and appealing your financial aid if you feel as though you’re owed more money.

Mm-hmm. . And then typically a lot of people like to apply regular decision because you get your financial aid from all the schools you apply to around the same time, so you can compare and you have a bit more, um, choice when, um, determining which school to go to with applying early, particularly early decision, you don’t get that choice, uh, just because you’ll only know about one school.

Since I applied to two schools around the same time, I knew how much financial aid I was getting from both. And even though I ended up getting a full ride from Howard, I still could not go there. Um, Cornell did not give me a full ride. They gave me a really good amount of money, but uh, it wasn’t a full ride.

So, um, that is something to consider, particularly if you, particularly if you’re applying early decision, if that’s going to be a big factor for you. Cornell is still affordable for me, but that is something that students do worry about, especially if you’re in, you’re in that middle income range and it’s a bit harder to tell, um, which way your financial aid is gonna go at the school.

Uh, going onto the next, Oh, the presidential scholarship is a Howard specific scholarships. Some of these schools are, uh, scholarships are school specific. Other scholarships, like outside scholarships can go to any school within whatever that scholarship says it’s allowed. So that is what. Um, okay. Going on to the next question.

Uh, what is the difference between ED one and ED two? Is one better than the other? ? Um, so, uh, ED two, just again, it gives you some more time. So typically early decision is due around November 1st to 15th, and that second round of ED two is usually due, um, at some point in mid-January. So again, early decision is basically the biggest indicator that you want to attend that college.

If you were perhaps waiting on a higher score, um, and you wanted to weigh your options, you typically, um, would be a candidate, a good candidate for ED two, if you have, um, increased your score and with a lot of these schools, let’s say you ended up applying regular, but you wanted to switch to ED two, you can call the admission office and let them know that that’s what you’d like to switch to, and they do it.

Mm-hmm. , uh, kind of going off of, Oh, and not every school offers ed two. Most schools just do ed, ed one. Um, but check out the school’s website for that. But, uh, can you apply to this? Okay. One of the students that I, uh, go to school with, um, told me that he did this. And I just wanted to clarify, can you apply to a school ed one and then apply to another school ED two, even if they are both like early decision binding contracts?

No, you can’t, Or early decision. You, you can apply to one and truthfully, you get in trouble for that, right? So this is a contract. I don’t know many guidance counselors that would let that happen. So it’s interesting that that happened, McKenzie. But typically when you’re applying ed, anything, one or two, it is one school that you can select for either one of those options and then you can either do early action or regular for the other.

Mm-hmm. . And then when you’re actually on the common app and stuff, it will, um, when you’re, you select which, um, admissions plan you’re gonna go to. So it’ll say early decision, early action, regular decision. Again, depending on what the school offers. And you select the one that, well, you select the year that you’re applying to, like fall 24 for most of you that are seniors.

And then you select if you’re applying early, regular, um, et cetera. Uh, and then if you click ed, it is going to pull up a screen that says this is a binding contract. And then you have to click through that and you have to sign it. Everybody has to sign it. It’s a lot of signing, just so they make sure that you understand it’s a binding contract.

So, So please do read the fine frame. Um, okay, going on to the next question. What is rolling admission? That’s a great question. It’s the one thing we didn’t really talk about. So, rolling admission means, um, once the college’s application is open, students are welcome to apply. And typically with rolling admission, it means it’s rolling decision.

So if their application open in August and the admission officers start reading in November, that first batch of applications probably goes out at some point in mid-December. Um, and they keep sending them out in batches like that. So it allows students more time, uh, less finding. And typically you can apply rolling admission till about like mid April-ish.

Um, after that May 1st deadline, think kind of shut down. But rolling admission means you can just apply as you want to. I’ve seen some schools that go into June and August. . Yep. Um, so if you really need a backup, backup, backup plan. Rolling. Admission rolling is a good one. Yep. Uh, so going on to the next question.

Okay. Um, how do you factor in sports, uh, factor sports in this process? If you haven’t confirmed if the school wants, you should, um, you shouldn’t do, I’m guessing early decision. Um, what if the sport wants you? Um, can you explain how sports get in this? Yeah. So I was actually recruited D one athlete. Um, and so my college journey started a little bit sooner.

So around March of my junior year, I started getting, um, calls from coaches and things like that to do official visits that spring. So most of my applications were turned in towards the end of October. Um, typically the recruited athletes, especially for division one, the coaches will tell you, um, or require that you sign a letter of intent at some point that, that athletic recruitment day, um, mid-October, So if we are talking about division three and you have some time, uh, I say apply early action and then you can flat out ask these coaches if they have a spot for you on the team.

Now, with the caveat that some coaches will tell you whatever you wanna hear. My husband’s a coach, so I am very familiar with that. Um, but also, um, we recommend that they, you know, are honest with the students so you can have those decisions prior to submitting applications, I did, um, I did no early decision applications.

I only did early action so that I could have time to decide where I wanted to be. So it bought me quite a few months, um, to do some second round of visits and things like that and to really see how things kind of played out. So the, the sport that I played was soccer. Um, so it gave me the ability to see how the teams were, you know, who I thought may play or may not play, um, to see if anybody would drop off the team.

So I really like early action. Um, but if you are a kid that the coach is recommending early decision, it’s probably for a reason because they want you there. Mm-hmm. , another student is asking if you get accepted into a school, uh, that you applied early decision to but didn’t get the major of your choice, do you still have to attend that school or is it only binding when you get into the school and your major of choice?

So if you don’t get the major, you’re not held to, um, to stay within that school so it’s accepted to the major can play. So if you don’t have both of those factors, you’re not held to that contract. Hm. Uh, going on to the next question. Okay. Um, most of these are very specific. Um, okay. Will schools know if you apply ED to more than one school?

No, we have no idea. Um, but I will tell you, we do talk to each other, so you’re crazy if you don’t think that we communicate with each other, especially the IBS or schools that are in the same like system. They really do talk to each other. So don’t try apply. This is not secret sauce. This is just an official thing.

Like if you’re applying to any of those SUNY schools, Cal State, they talk to each other for a fact. . Mm-hmm. breaking news here. Uh, okay. Going on to the next question. Uh, how much does applying early increase your chances of admissions? Like is there any percentage or anything? I don’t think there’s an actual percentage.

And I saw the question about, um, if like schools. Set aside a number of spots for athletes. So every team has a designated number of scholarships and or walk-ons that they can fight for. Um, and that’s really a school to school policy. But applying early, I think it does, uh, help and in factor in your decision.

Um, it means you’re in that first round and you’re, you’re ready to commit to that school. So I think it definitely helps. Mm-hmm. , uh, okay. What if a student gets, uh, denied by a ED one? Can he or she apply for ED two for another school? Yes, he can. Yep. Uh, okay. Uh, okay, so we’re coming up on five minutes. Is there any last, um, uh, points that you wanted to make?

I’m gonna keep skimming, but if there’s anything you wanted to. I don’t think so. I mean, I really think that this is a conversation that you have to have with your families. Um, I was really lucky. Both my parents worked in higher education, so, and they still do. Um, so I had access to, I would say additional kind of advising in my parents alone.

Um, making, picking a college decision was not one that I made lightly. I got to the school that I wanted to, thought I was good to go, and I changed. But luckily, because I had applied early, I had a lot of other options, which is why I kind of stress to students to, if you can do a couple of, um, early action schools, it really gives you a lot of time to plan.

Um, I’m a planner by heart. I like to have my days very measured out lists made the night before clothes laid out, so it was really a great option for me. Um, . If you are considering quite a few schools and whether it’s GPA and or finances are a factor, then you can hold off for, for, um, regular decision to give yourself some more time to figure things out.

This is the craziest process you’ll ever go through unless you’re applying to medical school, um, or law school. So know that there is support for you. Um, and a lot of my students, if I’m not around, they can go back to their guidance counselors like we we’re here, so we’re happy to help. Uh, students asking, would you discourage applying ED to a school in a system like the Ivy’s or the uc and applying to another school in the same system?

I think I, I wanna touch on this a little bit. We’re talking to like, don’t apply ED to two schools in the same system because they will likely find out that you applied ed. You can apply to as many schools in the same system as you want. But Joanne, do you have anything to add? No, I mean, you can’t apply Ed to a bunch of them.

They will find that out. But you can apply to as many schools in the system that you can, We specifically have a track for students applying to the Cal State system or Texas. So, you know, you do you, it, it’s totally up to you. Uh, students asking will not applying for financial aid help with, um, help, Oh my gosh, where it go.

Uh, will not applying for financial aid help in, uh, in, uh, ed admissions will not applying for financial aid. So some schools require, most schools require you to submit the FAFSA. Um, and a lot of schools are need, uh, blind in the admission process. So they may not even know. So typically on the average day, our admissions team does not know if a student has submitted the FAFSA.

That goes to a completely different department. So I don’t think that that, um, kind of factors in. I see a student asking about the BS and MD programs. Uh, you have to check out the school’s, um, websites for more information, but typically, uh, special programs like that, or like honors programs have priority deadlines, which is another type of deadline.

Um, usually around December 1st, right timeframe. Uh, and that, those are usually for scholarships, honors programs, um, special majors programs, or, uh, like career track. Not career track, but um, grad track programs, uh, where you have to apply by that deadline to be considered for those programs. Uh, okay. And we are coming up in the last minute.

Um, there was a question that I saw. Oh my gosh. Um, oh no, where did it go? Okay. Um, oh, yes. Uh, you kind of touched upon this, but is early, um, more or less competitive than regular decision, uh, with its smaller application pool. I really think it depends on the school. I really think it depends on the school.

Um, those Ivy’s are gonna have a lot of students in both regular and ed one rules, So I truly think it depends on the school. Um, that’s not a subjective, subjective question that I think I can answer for you unfortunately. Okay. Uh, so that is the end of the webinar. Thank you everyone for coming out tonight and thank you, Joanne, for all this wonderful information about our early, uh, decision and early action.

Here’s the rest of our October series where we’ll be, uh, where we’ll have different college panels, as well as different webinars going over specific parts of the application and the process, um, where you can find out more information. Um, for our younger students. Definitely. Check out our other webinars on like what you should be doing ninth, 10th, 11th grade, um, what courses you should be taking in high school and things like that.

Uh, and uh, we also have timelines of the admissions process where you can figure out what you should be doing right now, how to get ahead, how to get, um, on with the application for our seniors. We definitely recommend the upcoming webinars on, uh, essay editing and different strategies for the admissions process.

So thank you everyone for coming out tonight and goodnight. And this webinar is being recorded if you would like to view it again later on our website at But yes, thanks McKenzie. Have a great night everybody.