Ins & Outs of College Applications

Completing college applications can be a tedious and daunting process for high school students and their parents, especially if you are applying to multiple schools. What can make this process even more difficult is not understanding the college application lingo as well as not having a method for keeping up with the details of what each school you plan to apply to requires and when.

Because of this, we’ve got some tips to conquer both:

What do all these things mean?

1. Applying Early Decision: If you apply early decision to a school and you are accepted, then your attendance is binding to that school. This means you have to attend that school. Early decision is a good option if you are dead set on a school and/or that school is a potential “reach” school for you for gaining acceptance.

Applications for early decision need to be completed in the early fall of your senior year (usually due in October or November) and you are notified early, usually in December if you are accepted.

2. Applying Early Action: Early action applications are non-binding. You will receive notification that you have been accepted to the school early, but do not have to attend there, and do not have to commit to attending until normal reply date that is typically May 1st.

Applications for early action are usually due in the early fall of your senior year as well (usually in October or November).

For more information on early decision and early action visit:

There is a calendar for applying early decision and/or early action at the bottom of this link for download.

3. Common Application (Common App): The common application is a standardized college application process. Around 500 colleges and universities accept the common application. The advantage of the common app is that you can apply to several member institutions all at once with one application (some schools require different or supplemental material such as teacher recommendations, etc.) For a list of those that accept the common app along with application deadlines and fees to the member institutions, visit:!PublicPages/ApplicationRequirements (Hit “show instructions” at the top of the page to see what each acronym in the chart stands for.)

Link to sample College App:

Once you understand what everything means, you need to keep up with information for each school. We suggest you create a table like the one below to help you with this

What is your top choice for college? Will you be applying early decision or early action?

Mary Ila Ward

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