Monday, July 28, 2014

How Will You Apply to College?

Applying to college has changed dramatically the past 15 years. In addition to no longer using paper applications, colleges have created different application decisions and deadlines.  

Early Decision (ED)

Early Decision is a binding agreement between the student, parents, school counselor and college. The contract stipulates that if offered admission, the student will withdraw all other applications and accept admission into that school.

A student would apply ED to a college if they knew it was their absolute top choice, especially at a school in which they might not be the strongest applicant. The ED applicant pool is much smaller than the Regular Decision pool. This allows for students to be compared with a fewer number of applicants, as only ED applications are compared, thus increasing a student's chance of admission. It can hurt a student if the student does not stand out amongst other applicants.

Early Action (EA)

This application deadline allows students to apply earlier to a particular college/university, usually on the first of November. In return, colleges agree to act on their application earlier, by the end of the calendar year. This is a plus for students because they will learn earlier if they are accepted to college. If denied or deferred, this provides additional time to reassess their college applications. As with ED, schools only compare EA applications when admitting students. Colleges again, prefer the EA process because they are able to accept a particular amount of students which will many times increase the probability of students accepting admission.

Restrictive/Single Choice Early Action

This is a newer entry into the college application process, generally seen in a highly selective college. This application option will allow students to apply 'early' to one college. The difference between this option and ED is that there is no binding acceptance agreement. Students ethically agree not to apply ED or EA to other colleges, in hopes of an early acceptance from a highly selective college. Once a student receives notification, they are free to apply to other colleges.

Regular Decision (RD)

This is the standard option for a student application. Some schools will offer a 'rolling admissions' option in RD. This means that schools will notify students days or weeks upon receiving a completed application. Other schools will notify students in the applicant pool on one date later in the application process (around March or April 1st).

TIPS: Always remember to pay attention to deadlines. Students should also pay attention to all aspects of their application files to ensure they are complete, such as letters of recommendations, essay supplements, fees, etc... Missing a deadline or a component of your file might mean missing out on an opportunity to attend the school of your choice.

There are more pluses and minuses to the application processes, contact us to learn which option is best for you.

Explaining How to Use the Common App When Applying to College

The Common Application, also known as the Common App, is an undergraduate college admission application shared among 517 member colleges and universities in the United States and 6 foreign countries. About one-third of these member institutions use the Common App as their exclusive admission application. Founded in 1975, the Common App is currently in its 4th edition.

Online Exclusive Application

The Common Application has two versions: first-year admission and transfer admission. Each of these applications are available exclusively online, paper copies cannot be submitted to member schools. The first day to begin the application for the following fall is August 1st. The commonality of the application allows for all entered information to be submitted to selected schools electronically via the Common Application website. A student may also create separate versions of the application for individual schools if they wish. Once the application is transmitted to a college online, it cannot be changed for that college. If the student would like to edit the application after submission, they must contact the college directly. The Common Application also allows the student to submit and track other components of their application such as supplements, payments, and school forms.

Holistic Review

The mission of this not-for-profit organization is to encourage member schools to create a 'holistic selection process' for student admission. This means a student is judged subjectively by each prospective school using such factors as essays, letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities along with objective factors such as class rank, standardized test scores and Grade Point Average (GPA). The Common App believe this holistic review allows for schools to promote equity and integrity in the college admission process. Only schools who accept the holistic admission criteria (not solely objective factors) are accepted into membership.

Essay Prompts

There are five essay prompts on the Common Application in which a student has the flexibility to choose to answer one. Five new questions were created for the 4th edition which began for the 2013-14 admission year. Along with new questions, the length of the essay remained at the 250 word minimum, but increased from 500 to a 650 maximum word limit. The essay prompts are the main aspect of the application. The student should allow the admission office to learn about their: values, uniqueness and creativity. The student should also be creative, reflective, expressive and honest about themselves, while portraying their writing and critical thinking skills.

Supplement Questions

Many member institutions require a 'Common App Supplement.' These are additional question(s) that are asked in order to complement a student's application. Many times, colleges will ask specific questions regarding the school or programs they have to offer. There are only two restrictions for a supplement question: that it does not re-ask questions already answered and that it does not violate the National Association for College Admissions Counselors Statement of Principles and Good Practice.

If you would like more advice or tips on the Common Application, contact us.