Deciding how and when to apply to college is just one more piece of COLLEGE APPLICATION JENGA!

It takes skill, balance, preparation, and a bit of luck. 

Here are some of the types of application timelines that colleges offer. You will choose the application plan based on your list, your goals, your preferences, and the due dates. Below I will define each type of application and relate it to dating…so you will never forget it. Ever.

ED- Early Decision- finding your one and only, asking them to marry you, and walking down the aisle.

Early Decision (ED) is for students who are ready to commit to a certain college or university. If accepted, all other schools are off the table.  A student applies to ONE school and must attend if accepted. In fact, all other dating is over…all other applications must be withdrawn. There will be no more dating, no more looking for your one and only: you are formally bound together.


Rice University Visit with A. Blake

Why do it? It can increase your chances this year as many of the schools are hoping to get more committed relationships earlier in the dating game. And, you will know the answer and can move forward to celebrate and buy the t-shirt, work on your deferral by writing a Letter of Continued Interest, or know that that school did not want a committed relationship with you. Admissions offices like the certainty involved with getting a committed, paying relationship. Speaking of paying, you will not get to compare other offers and are committing to pay what the net price calculator on the university website states for your family.

ED deadlines are typically November 1st or November 15th, and decisions are released between mid-December and mid-January. You will need to complete a form with your guidance office and your parents confirming that you understand the binding nature of this decision. Does it increase your chances? Sometimes it does. Make sure to look at the early decision admissions rates compared to regular decision.

Early Action- for the picky dater

Early Action (EA) plans are for those who are smitten with several schools. You may like one for one reason and another for a different reason, so you keep your options open; but only with a few, select targets. This plan allows students who are prepared and ready to apply to do so early in senior year and get to having fun in high school. Your decision does not have to be made and you are free to compare offers until May 1st – the national decision date – when you must make a choice.  If you are eager and ready to submit by November, and anxious to know who you may be taking to the altar, by the holidays, this may be the way to go.  Some students just like to know where they stand with the schools and can decide later – which may reduce stress.

Early Decision 2 – of all the ones I’ve loved before, you are now my clear favorite!

ED ll plans are later in the year- around January. You may choose this option when your first proposal is refused or when one of your dates just clearly stands out from the crowd a bit later in the dating cycle. Also binding like ED but you just didn’t feel the love quite as early in the process. EDII may also increase your chances as the admissions % are often higher than in regular decision, but again, you will not be able to compare offers, negotiate for more aid, etc. Weigh the pros and cons with your family.

Regular Decision – like going to the club.

Regular Decision (RD) plans do not require a commitment, and believe it or not, this is the fan favorite when it comes to this dating analogy.  You can flirt, date, talk about the future, and keep a bunch of prospects on the line until you are ready to compare and commit next year.  These deadlines are usually January 1st or later.  This is also a way to show off a stellar first trimester or semester of your senior year. Do you need to show a bit more of an upward trend in your GPA? These deadlines may be the right choice for you. 

Is this you? Do you need a little more time? Are you still unsure? Is finding that match alluding to you for the time being? Just keep clubbing, testing, studying, dating…the right one will show itself. You may start to look a little better using the regular application once you complete a senior semester or gather a few more activities and scores. If you need some time to show what a great catch you will be, this is the RD plan for you.

What is your plan?

Depending on who you are, the way you go through this dating process will be about the same…unless you go ED and are off the market to all others. You want to put your best outfit on, mind your manners, be picky, show off the best version of yourself – and apply the way that makes the most sense for your situation.