Applying in the Regular Decision Round – A Good Decision?

Now is the season for college applications, and students all over the world are frantically preparing their transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays, and extracurriculars. The application process is undoubtedly tiresome and stressful. The early round (EA & ED) are already gone. Now is the time for the regular decision round. So, is applying in the regular decision round a good move?

Selective schools and colleges offer early action and/or early decision options, and every year a good number of students choose this route. There are benefits to applying to college early. You are not only telling the school you are so passionate about their school but also showing the school that you have the pluck and willpower to complete an extensive application process months ahead of your peers.

Early Action vs. Early Decision vs. Regular Decision Overview

 Early ActionEarly DecisionRegular Decision
DeadlinesNovember 1stNovember 1stMid-December to Mid- January
AdvantagesNon Binding and high acceptance rateHigher acceptance rateApply to as many colleges as you wish and make your final commitment without consequences
DisadvantagesOffered at limited universitiesBinding and limited financial aid availableLower acceptance rate and competing with a bigger applicant pool

Early Action

Early Action is attractive because students can submit applications to an unlimited number of schools, and even if accepted to one of those schools, they are not bound to take up enrollment there. May 1st is the deadline for students to make a decision whether or not they will attend the school.

Pros of Applying in the Early Action Round

There is a reason for not applying early because once you are accepted, you can hold that offer and still apply to other schools of your choice. Other advantages include:

  • Enables you to apply for non-binding early action at multiple schools.
  • Higher chance of getting accepted.
  • You get to know earlier if you got accepted sooner than those who apply in the regular decision round.
  • If you are accepted, it cuts down on additional admission stress.
  • You get the scope to apply and compare financial aid packages from many schools.

Cons of Applying in the Early Action Round

Early application has very few disadvantages, and the main drawback is that only a few institutions, including MIT, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton offer early action. Selective colleges provide this option because they know applicants are more likely to take up the offer even though it is not binding.

Early Decision

Early Decision is an admission program that is binding and restrictive and is also the most restrictive of the early admission programs. You are given permission to submit an application to a single college through this early admission program. If you decide to attend a particular college, you have to forgo all other college admissions attempts and enroll. If you are not sure which college you want to attend, you should not use the Early Decision application process.

Pros of Applying in the Early Decision Round

Both early decision and early action applicants have a greater chance of getting accepted. Unless and until you are sure of your top school; applying to that school in the early decision round works in your favor. The early decision shows the admissions officers your commitment towards their school and the fact that you are willing to apply under their given circumstances means you are fully committed to attending that school.

Cons of Applying in the Early Decision Round

The drawback of early decision is that it does not work for students who need financial aid. Colleges usually do not have financial aid ready ahead of time, and students must decide before they see how much financial aid they will receive. If they wait for their financial aid package, they risk missing the admission deadlines of other schools.

You can apply for early decision at one school only, so make sure that you can attend that school and pay the tuition costs. If you reject an early decision offer, you cannot apply to that college again.

Related Article: Early Decision vs Early Action – What Should You Do?

Admission Chances: EA vs ED

Colleges prefer to admit students to their Early Action and Early Decision programs using high standards, than those used for traditional admissions. The brightest and most interested students usually submit their applications first. Students who do not meet the criteria for early admission will be placed in the regular admission pool. The chances of being admitted are significantly higher if you apply through an Early Action or Early Decision program.

Early applicants are favored by colleges due to certain factors like –

  • Students who apply early are highly motivated.
  • Applicants are well-organized in order to have their applications ready by the beginning of November or even earlier who want to get in early.
  • The early applicants show their dedication to the institution. It is an indication of a student’s level of interest.
  • The colleges get an idea of the student’s strengths well ahead of time reducing the amount of unpredictability in the spring.

The Advantages of Submitting Your College Application for Early Action or Early Decision –

  • Enables you to take steps to increase your chances of being accepted.
  • Shows that you are enthusiastic about attending a certain college.
  • Helps you find the outcome of your admission decision before Christmas, and if it’s positive, you spare yourself the anxiety of a stressful spring.
  • You have less stress as colleges communicate their decisions to early applicants in the month of November; hence you have a shorter wait time for a decision than your peers.
  • You will Spend less money and save time
  • Enough time to get ready not only for college but also to make arrangements regarding housing, classes, and moving.

Regular Decision Round

Regular Decision Students who follow the standard application deadlines apply during the regular decision cycle. They need to compete with a larger group of applicants and wait longer for each school’s final decision.

The admission rate for the regular decision round is usually lower than the admission rate for early decision or early action due to the bulk of applications being considered during this round.

The deadline for regular decision application is on January 1st of each year. If an applicant chooses to apply using the regular decision process, it means you will not be submitting your application during the early round. Instead, a notification of the decision from the admissions officers will be received in the spring, between the months of late March and early April.

If you are not decided on what you want to major in and need more time to make a decision, a regular decision path for your college application would be the best option for you.

Pros of Applying in the Regular Decision Round

  • Extended deadlines for scholarship applications.
  • Scope for students to improvise on their ACT scores and thereby qualify for more financial aid.
  • Enough time to make up your mind about where you want to go.
  • If you are accepted, there is no pressure to make an early commitment. Ability to compare aid packages issued by various educational institutions.
  • Apply to many colleges of your choice.

Cons of Applying in the Regular Decision Round

  • The colleges respond to your application, not before spring.
  • Applicants are loaded with activities like planning graduation, taking exams, and attending other events, on top of applying to schools.
  • The rate of acceptance is lower.
  • Competing with a bigger applicant pool.
Early Action vs. Early Decision vs. Regular Decision

Which one is Right – Early Action vs. Early Decision vs. Regular Decision

As long as you understand the process and commitment, it is alright to apply for early acceptance. But do your research well before you begin the application process.

Choose your dream colleges. You should be confident that you are socially and academically a good applicant for these colleges. You should have a solid academic record. You are compelled to accept an offer from an early-decision college. So make sure they are the schools that you really want to attend if you are applying for early decision.

As colleges need to fill their classes and early applications allow them to fulfill a portion of the unit early. Secondly, applying for binding early decision and non-binding early action simultaneously, results in that if a binding program accepts you, you must attend.

Finally, we would suggest not placing all your eggs in an early decision or early action basket. Just because you have applied does not mean you will be accepted. Keep working on your other college applications until you received an acceptance from your dream school.

Featured Image Source: Solomon Admissions Consulting

References: 1, 2.

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