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

What’s So Wonderful?

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” ding dong, ding dong. You know the song. Perhaps for you, it still conjures up images of holiday decorations and good cheer. Not for me. Not since 1996, when Staples came out with that clever commercial of the mom gliding through the aisle, joyously tossing post-its and pencils into her cart, and two children slugging along behind her. For me I must agree, it IS the most wonderful time of the year.
Yes, I am a mom who is happy to send her kids back to school. That part rings true, but there are other reasons I find it to be the most wonderful time of the year. It means the big kids are coming back to campus after a quiet summer. It means the new freshman will arrive with their spirit and hope. The energy of September is palpable as you walk around campus. It is a time to start again. Much like the New Year, I find myself making lists of new goals to achieve.
However, as a parent of a new college student that commercial that may have been silly and humorous doesn’t seem so anymore. As parents we worry. It’s part of our DNA. We have concerns about whether our children will succeed. If they are going away for school, we may worry about their new found independence. These are valid concerns. As a parent of a new student, you may find yourself asking what should I expect or what is my role?
First, it is okay to miss your child. You probably will. Those feelings didn’t get dubbed with “the empty nest syndrome” for nothing. You may feel emotions of sadness to grouchy bad moods. Try to come up with a method for staying in touch. Make it something that you and your child can agree on. A phone call or text a day? Maybe once every two or three days. Technology can help you. Gone are the days of your child standing in line for the pay phone at the end of the hall. Maybe plan to Face Time or Skype once in a while or even plan a monthly campus visit. However, caution is advised, this is a time for your student to spread their wings. Try not to text and call too often. Let them reach out to you. They will, and they will come to enjoy that time as much as you.
My biggest caution is against the temptation to be overly involved. Remember the term “helicopter” parenting? Unfortunately, it still holds true for today’s college student. Nothing makes me cringe more than seeing a parent in the office. College is a time for the student to handle their problems on their own. Offering advice and suggestions are helpful, but they should manage with your support from the sidelines. They will leave school with a greater sense of self and independence if you do. (In another blog we can discuss FERPA).
Help your child know who they can go to as a college resource. Anyone from their Resident Advisor (RA) to their Academic Advisor can help. Each university and college around the nation has student support services available just to help your child navigate the college waters. The sooner your child knows where they can get answers, assistance and support for issues and concerns, the better.
Remember that feeling of palpable energy I spoke of? Well, it doesn’t last forever. Even after the first week of school (often orientation week), there can be a let-down. Freshmen may question their decision. School work begins to set in, and so does the reality of the work involved. Often the first six weeks of the semester can be a difficult transition for the new student. It’s not just you who will be making some adjustments. The first series of posted grades can be a huge disappointment. Helping your student problem solve can be a great assistance.

In a future posts, I will also talk about setting expectations with your college student. But for now, even if you are not feeling that sense of joyous exuberance as your child packs up, keep in mind that this is just a new phase. You may never throw socks into a suitcase with the joy of the mom and her post-its on TV, and that’s ok. However, packing for college will be the new norm for the next few years. Just like that first day of kindergarten when they got on the bus. It may take some getting used to, but that’s ok too.
(Oh, and for goodness sakes after the first move-in day, let them pack themselves!)



Welcome to Collegiate Café

Hello and welcome to my blog on transitioning to college. I call it Collegiate Café. Grab your coffee and let me help you navigate through college life. Whether you are a parent or a college student, welcome!

I have a wide variety of experience in Higher Education, and have worked with thousands of students in the process. I am here to share some of my knowledge of getting into schools and successfully staying in school. I will also add some humorous and heartwarming stories along the way. It is my hope Collegiate Cafe will be a place to learn about the college process and ask questions if needed.



-Diane D’Arcangelo