Up Close with College Applications
Time to Apply: Most applications are available to submit sometime between August and December of senior year. It is typically advantageous to apply earlier rather than later, and students should become familiar with the different deadline options available at each school.
What is Required: Students need access to Social Security number, high school CEEB code, student ID number, SAT /ACT scores, AP/IB scores, recent transcript(s), and résumés.
Types of Applications: Not all applications are created equal. Colleges may offer one or several types of applications. Colleges may have a proprietary offering, or they may participate in a state-consortium application, the Common Application, The Coalition Application, or the Universal Application — or they may offer more than one of these. You can help your teen by exploring the pros and cons of these choices.
APPLICATION DEADLINE CHOICES:
Early Decision (ED): A binding decision assures the college that if the student is accepted, he will enroll. Encourage your student to only apply with this type of application if the school is clearly the #1 choice, and he has had an opportunity to visit and explore the school in-depth.
Early Action (EA): Not nearly as restrictive as the Early Decision type of application, this action allows a student to apply to as many schools as she would like in an Early Action mode. Students are not bound to attend a school if accepted but have the advantage of knowing early if they are accepted to their top-choice schools. If it is Restrictive Early Action or Single-Choice Early Action, the student can apply to only one EA school and no ED schools.
Regular Decision (RD): Regular Decision (sometimes called Regular Admission) is the most common type of application. Colleges provide a deadline to submit applications, and the admissions board reviews them to make decisions prior to sending out acceptance or rejection letters by April 1.
Rolling Admission: Many large universities offer Rolling Admissions. Colleges allow students to apply any time between September and July. Applications are evaluated as they arrive, and admission decisions are sent as soon as they are available. Often schools operate on a first-come-first-served basis, so it makes sense for your teen to get her application in early.
2. Review transcripts for accuracy prior to senior year. It can often take some time to petition for an error to be corrected and to get a change implemented.
3. Keep all personal data such as social security number (it’s a great time to memorize this number as a better way to protect it) and school CEEB codes handy.
4. Review financial aid applications to make sure you understand the required data. Completing your tax return in early October can make for a more expedient financial aid package. You will be asked for data from your prior-prior year tax return; for example, students starting college in 2019 will be required to submit 2017 tax data with their FAFSA application.
Denial: If your student is denied admission to her number one choice, work to encourage research on back-up options. The only time a decision appeal makes sense is when there is NEW and very compelling information to communicate to the admissions office. In almost all cases, it is best to move on to other great options.
Acceptance: Congratulations! You are in the homestretch. Remind your teen that all acceptances are contingent upon acceptable grades second semester of senior year and a validation of all data on the initial application. Watch for senioritis—it is real and very contagious!
She is the director of The College Planning Center, a resource for students and parents. © 2018