Early Decision and Early Action

There are a lot of components involved in selecting the right college.  Is the college a good match socially, academically, geographically, and financially?  Is the student capable of meeting the entrance requirements?  While you are taking these considerations into account, you may hear the admissions officers using terms like Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA).  Have you wondered what that means?

I know a few students who have just submitted their college applications.  It can be a stressful process, and not knowing what these terms mean can add to the stress.  It is important that college applicants understand the meaning between the two, and which one is best for them.  Here is some necessary information about Early Decision and Early Action.

Early Decision is binding.  Students who are accepted as ED must attend that college.  ED is best for students who have done an extensive amount of research on colleges and universities.  They have a strong sense of what they want to study.  They are applying to their number one choice and meet all the entrance requirements for SAT scores, GPA, and high school ranking.  ED applicants will typically hear from the admissions office by December with the final decision.  They have agreed to attend the college in advance if the offer is made and the financial aid package is acceptable.  These students will also submit their non-refundable deposit well before the typical May 1st deadline.

Early Action is a non-binding plan.  Students will receive an offer early (usually January or February) but don’t have to make a decision until May 1st.  These students may have applied to other schools under the regular admissions process.  EA is better suited for students who are considering more than one university but have still done extensive research on various schools.

You should not apply for school with an ED or EA plan for many of reasons.  ED and EA is not suited for everyone.  Plenty of students should hold off and follow the regular admissions process.  These students are those who did not do their homework and are just applying to colleges without much knowledge of the particular schools. They could be applying because a friend is applying. They are doing the work early to get it done and over. They aren’t overly interested in college to begin with or, lastly, they need the fall semester to bring up their GPA.

I caution students against applying early if they are only doing it because it seems like the thing to do.  There are negatives to going through an ED or EA process.  They can include:

  • Stress to get everything in on time with the pressure to decide early.
  • Limited financial aid options.
  • Senioritis – the feeling that everything is complete, and now the student can goof off.

Many may argue that applying early will increase their odds of getting accepted to college.  This is not the case either.  Many universities will regulate the number of applicants accepted under ED, EA and regular admission.  Universities all have numbers for incoming classes that are targeted.  They will pace themselves through the application process.

Do the research. Know what you are getting involved in before you step into the ED or EA process.  Remember, for many this is the way to go, but it is definitely for a particular student.  Know who you are as an applicant.



Much of the information above was gathered from https://professionals.collegeboard.com/guidance/applications/early

Mid-Semester Check-In

Many schools are halfway through the semester by now. It’s hard to believe. You have probably heard many people say, “Enjoy college; it will go fast.” Now you can see that it does. So, before the semester slips away, let’s consider how you are doing.

• Are you finding this semester’s classes difficult or easy?
• Are you getting help, if needed?
• Do you know where to find the office hours of your professors?
• Where do you go for tutoring?
• What’s the course withdrawal deadline at your school?

• Have you made a connection with any campus organizations? It’s not too late to get involved. Even if this isn’t your first year, get involved! Involvement on campus and the experience you gain can relate to future jobs. Being involved can also help combat loneliness and the feeling of disconnectedness.
• Go with a friend. Maybe the idea of joining a group or activity is intimidating. If so, ask a friend to go along.

• Are you making new friends and meeting new people? You should be expanding your network all the time. Get your head out of your phone for a few minutes to meet the person next to you in line at the coffee shop. Pretend it’s 1984.
• Make connections with faculty and staff. In the future, you may need to ask someone for a reference. It is much easier for a professional to write a reference if it comes from personal knowledge.
• Have you started a new, yet serious relationship already? How soon into the semester did you change your relationship status on social media? Give yourself time. I caution on rushing into anything. College is for getting to know yourself first. Don’t get too serious, too fast with anyone.

If you are struggling in any one of these areas, you can seek help from faculty, staff, student staff members, or other students. College is full of people just like you – wanting to fit in and find a niche. The good thing: college is not like high school. Popularity does not apply. Be yourself, and take advantage of what your school has to offer that encourages your interests and potential for success. Semesters have a tendency to slip by quickly. Campus resources abound – use them!

PSATs and SATs – Some General Information

Fall is the time of year that many juniors will take the PSAT and seniors may attempt the SAT again for a higher score.

This year, some changes are occurring for BOTH tests. Coming up on October 14th and October 28th, students will be taking the redesigned PSAT/NMSQT for the first time. It’s the best way to practice for the SAT. It is also an opportunity to connect with scholarship opportunities. The newly designed SAT will be launched on March 5th. If you are taking the SAT this fall, it will with the current test.

Let me make that more clear:

  • Seniors: Taking the SAT before March 2016 will take the current SAT.
  • Juniors and sophomores: Taking the SAT in March 2016 or later will take the new SAT.

I highly recommend visiting the College Board website for more information regarding these changes. Their website has tons of information regarding both tests, upcoming changes, registration deadlines, practice tests, a college search engine, and much more.

Practice makes perfect, right? The College Board website also offers free practice for the PSAT and SAT tests. Anyone can take advantage of these practice tests if they have a pencil, printer, calculator, and a timer. After completing the test, you can score it on your own to find out how you did. Also, explanations for answers are provided so that you can learn from your mistakes.

Lastly, did you know that there is an app for the SAT? You can now download the SAT Question of the Day to your smartphone for free daily practice. How cool is that? Ok, maybe not as fun as Snapchat, but certainly a good way to prepare a little at a time.

Do you need to score better than the student taking the test next to you? My answer is no. You just need to do the best that you can possibly do. Practice, practice, practice is the best way to prepare for your best score possible. Your highest scores on the SATs in combination with a strong high school GPA, is the best avenue to college acceptance.

“Good Luck!”


College Board. https://www.collegeboard.org/, (10/4/15).

It Takes Courage to be Happy

My young neighbor. Studying what makes her happy at Montclair State University.
My young neighbor. Studying what makes her happy at Montclair State University.

If you were paying any attention to the news last week, you might have noticed that Pope Francis came for a little visit. It was difficult to escape the excitement (and trepidation) surrounding the Pope’s arrival. However, now in the aftermath, I believe the general thought is that it went very well.
I noticed throughout the week that quotes and themes from his speeches would come up on social media. In February of this year, Pope Francis spoke on World Youth Day. He was quoted as saying, “Have the courage to be happy.” I love this quote, and he brought it out again over this past weekend in Philadelphia.
It does take courage to be happy. If you are in a situation that you don’t like, it may take some effort to make a change. The process of change may require some courage. I think this rings true for all people regardless of our age. However, since Pope Francis originally directed this to our youth, so will I.
As a junior or senior in high school, you have a few decisions in front of you in regards to college. Many people you know will try to give you their opinion about where to go and what you should study in college. I say, “Have courage!” Be strong, and speak your mind. Granted there may be parameters such as cost and academic preparation, but ultimately these decisions will affect your life – not anyone else’s. It makes me so sad to hear students say, “My parents think this would be the best major for me.” My response is always, “What do you think?” Or “If you could study something that would make you happy, what would it be?” I am the saddest when a student says, “My parents won’t help me (financially) with my education unless I study XYZ major.” Yes, I have heard it. If you think it makes me sad, think how the student feels. Parents and prospective students – keep in mind that careers evolve. Very few people stay in just one position for their entire career. Think about all the people you know that have studied one thing and went on to be successful in another. Happiness and success go hand in hand.
College students, I ask you, “Do you love what you are studying?” When you are in college, you should be studying what you want to learn. Study something that you find interesting. Usually the students who study a major they are interested in do better academically. Your job at college is to succeed academically. Unless you need a particular certification (such as teaching, accounting, and computer science), most employers will teach you what you need to know once you are on their payroll.
College is four years. It can and should be some of the best four years of your life. You should look back at the time spent in college with great joy and fond memories. College is a time to explore all sorts of possibilities. Try something new. Do what you love most. College is a time to be happy. If you are questioning yourself and your decisions, remember there are many people on campus to help you. Talk to an academic advisor, a faculty member, a staff member, a counselor. Courage starts with a conversation. That’s not so scary. Take a leap of faith. Be courageous!