Tag Archives: college advice

2023-2024 College Admissions Options and Deadlines

When it comes to college admissions, understanding the various application deadlines is essential. Three popular options that students often consider are Early Decision (ED), Early Action (EA), and Single Choice Early Action (SCEA). Each of these deadlines comes with its own set of advantages and considerations.

 

1. Early Decision (ED):

Early Decision is a binding commitment to attend a specific college or university if admitted. It typically has a deadline in November, with admission decisions released in December. ED is an excellent choice if you have a clear first-choice school and are certain about attending, as it can boost your chances of acceptance. However, it’s crucial to be aware that you must withdraw all other college applications if you are accepted through ED. This option may not be suitable if you wish to compare financial aid packages from different schools.

 

2. Early Action (EA):

Early Action is a non-binding option with a similar application deadline to ED in November, but it allows you to apply to multiple schools. You’ll receive your admissions decision in December or January, and you’re not obligated to attend the school if accepted. EA is an excellent choice for students who want to demonstrate their enthusiasm for a school and potentially receive early acceptance while keeping their options open. It also offers more time to compare financial aid offers.

 

3. Single Choice Early Action (SCEA):

SCEA, sometimes known as Restrictive Early Action, is a hybrid option. Like EA, it’s non-binding, but you can only apply to one school using SCEA. The application deadline and decision release dates are the same as EA. SCEA is ideal if you have a clear top choice, but you want to keep your options open at other institutions. It offers the best of both worlds, allowing you to apply early to your preferred school while maintaining flexibility.

 

When deciding which early admission option to pursue, consider your academic and personal preferences, your level of commitment to a particular school, and your financial situation. It’s also crucial to review the policies and requirements of each school, as they may vary. Keep in mind that not all colleges offer these early admission options, so research your chosen institutions carefully. Team Insight has compiled a short list of popular colleges and their admissions options and deadlines. This chart was last updated in September 2023.

Read more: Applying Early – Insights to Optimize Your College Admissions Strategy

 

 

In conclusion, understanding the differences between Early Decision, Early Action, and Single Choice Early Action can help you make an informed decision about your college application strategy. These options can provide a competitive advantage and potentially relieve some of the stress associated with the regular application process. Ultimately, the key is to choose the approach that aligns best with your goals and circumstances.

Insights into Honors College and Honors Program

So, you have heard great things about honors colleges and college honors programs. Now what? In this blog post, Insight Senior College Admissions Counselor Meilin Obinata will guide you through various factors to help you figure out if one of these would be a good fit for you (or not).

 

What is an Honors College ?

insights into honors college program and benefitsUsually, an honors college is part of a larger school, such as a university system, but often has its own funding sources, residential buildings, and activities specifically designated for honors students to use, live in, and participate in. I tell my students that these big schools often want to offer honors students some of the warm and fuzzy feelings of a liberal arts college, which is dedicated to giving undergraduates more attention and care than a typical big research university would.

 

 

Some perks and requirements you may find within an honors college:

    • Separate application guidelines, with distinct prompts and specific restrictions about who can write your letters of recommendation
    • Small living communities with other honors students
    • Social / networking opportunities with other honors students, faculty, or professionals
    • Priority class registration
    • Smaller class sizes
    • Exclusive classes, events, and scholarship opportunities
    • Mandatory thesis /capstone projects
    • Access to internships or research opportunities designated for honors students
    • Additional required coursework or assignments

 

Honors colleges vary widely. So, it is important to dig deep to understand if their philosophy of learning and living is a match for you if you were to be accepted.

Read more: Why It Is Important to Find Your “Best Fit” College

From an admissions standpoint, an honors college will have an admit rate much, much lower than the school in general. For example, sometimes students do not realize that applying to Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University is very selective because they are thinking of the overall admit rate to ASU, which is very generous (as of today at least). This means you will need to take this into account when building your college list – an honors college may very well be a “dream” or “reach” choice when the college at large may occupy a different category of risk.

honors program insights to help you decide if you should apply to college

You may also want to research honors colleges with a very clear view of how these programs intersect with your life goals inside the college and beyond college. Schreyer’s Honors College students at Pennsylvania State University can apply to an Early Assurance Program for Penn State’s medical school, which could be very attractive if you wish to become a doctor one day, for example.

 

What is a college’s Honors Program ?

These are programs often requiring students to meet a variety of standards, such as keeping a certain grade point average or completing specific courses within a major or department. This is more like an academic lane. Students may need to complete additional assignments and/or projects in order to graduate “with honors.”

 

One of my students was interested in the University of Washington, and I encouraged her to consider the honors program because of the interdisciplinary nature of the subjects and activities that she pursued in high school. She applied – and that program turned out to be one of her acceptances. She ultimately decided to attend the University of Washington because of the opportunities related to that specific program.

 

What should you think about before applying?

    • Treat the application as an entirely separate entry on your college list, as in, it should “count” in your mind as a separate college, with its own category of risk.
    • Research honors programs and colleges deeply before deciding to apply – don’t underestimate the work involved with applying to one of these. You might ultimately decide to apply to another college instead of applying to an honors option due to your overall workload in the application process.
    • As wonderful as these might be, you might look at the requirements for being a student in an honors college or honors program and decide – hey, this is too restrictive for my needs!

 

We hope you learned more about honors options so that you are better prepared for your college research process. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Insight counselor. Cheers!

Not an Insight Counseling family yet? No problem! CONTACT US to schedule a 1-hour personalized college planning session with an experienced admissions counselor. 


Written by Meilin Obinata

This article is written by Insight Senior College Admissions Counselor Meilin Obinata.

Meilin Obinata is a Senior College Counselor who enjoys learning from her students. She believes education is a creative endeavor and creates a space that allows students to explore new ideas. As a Bay Area native who grew up in Santa Cruz, she is familiar with the local schools. Read her full bio here.

Trending in College Admissions: Insights to who gets ACCEPTED

Analysis of the changes and trends in college admissions landscape by Insight Education’s Head of College Admissions Counseling, Purvi Mody.

 

Are you a high school student or parent curious about what it takes to get accepted into top colleges and universities? Join us for our upcoming event, “Trending in College Admissions: Insights to who gets ACCEPTED.” Our Co-Founder and Head of College Admissions Counseling, Purvi Mody, will share her knowledge and experience to demystify the college admissions process.

 

In this free online event, we’ll discuss the latest trends in college admissions, including what admissions officers are really looking for in applicants, the role of extracurricular activities and demonstrated interest, and how to craft a standout college essay. With our 24 years of college admissions experience, we’ll help you navigate the process with confidence and clarity. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to get an insider’s perspective on what it takes to get accepted into your dream school!

 

Date/Time: Thursday, April 27 from 4:00pm – 5:00pm (Pacific)

Location: Online via Zoom

RSVP for your FREE tickets now

 

 

Our Speaker:

Purvi Mody – Head of College Admissions Counseling

Optimize your admissions strategy with Purvi Mody

Purvi is the Head of College Admissions Counseling at Insight Education, as well as its Co-Founder. She has worked with thousands of high school students and families, and her belief centers on helping students identify and apply to schools that are the best fit for them. Purvi also works on guiding the students in developing applications and essays that highlight their unique strengths and talents.

 

Can’t wait until the event to meet with us? Contact us today and schedule your 1-hour personalized college planning session!

 

We are looking forward to meeting you! 

Team Insight

Applying Early – Insights to Optimize Your College Admissions Strategy

In the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, University of Southern California (USC) offered the Early Action option for the first time. Earlier in 2023, USC admitted 2,400 students from a pool of 40,600 applicants. That’s a 6% acceptance rate! You may wonder if early action and early decision can still be your best options to get into your top choice schools.

 

We designed this webinar just for you, rising seniors and families! Our college admissions expert will analyze the early admissions trends, processes, and limitations. Whether you’re planning to apply early decision, early action, or regular admission, this event is a must for anyone looking to maximize their chances in college admissions.

 

Date/Time: Tuesday, March 21 from 4:00pm – 5:00pm (Pacific)

Location: Online via Zoom

RSVP for your FREE tickets now

 

In this free online event, we will cover:

    • The latest trends and driving forces in the admission landscapes
    • What to do if you want to apply early
    • Do’s and Don’ts if you are applying Early
    • and much much more!

 

Our Speaker:

Zach Pava – Senior College Admissions Counselor

Academic planning and GPA in College Admissions by Zach PavaZach is the lead counselor and head of Insight’s Boston office. He also works with students from other parts of the US remotely. He graduated from Trinity College in Hartford with a B.S. in Psychology.  Zach’s background in psychology and managerial experience has allowed him to assess the specific needs of other people. No two students are exactly alike, as each brings his or her own unique personality, talents, and goals to the admissions process.

 

Can’t wait until the event to meet with us? Contact us today and schedule your 1-hour personalized college planning session!

 

We are looking forward to meeting you! 

Team Insight

ACT vs. SAT: Which Test Should You Take?

Standardized testing remains a key part of the college admissions process. Many students and parents begin their admissions journey by comparing the SAT and the ACT. One of the most commonly asked questions for Insight Counselors is “which test is easier/better?”

The SAT and the ACT generally cover the same topics. Both ACT and SAT scores are used for college admissions decisions and awarding merit-based scholarships. Most colleges do not have a preference for which standardized test scores are submitted. Neither the SAT nor the ACT is harder than the other. The deciding factor is often your preference.

Before you dive in and pick one test over the other because all your friends are doing it, here is our detailed breakdown of both standardized tests. 

Want to learn more about the digital SAT? Check our Insights to the New Digital SAT

 

Insights into the ACT and the SAT

 

SAT

ACT

Purpose

 

Colleges use the SAT test scores for  admissions consideration, merit-based scholarships, and sometimes placement purposes

 

Colleges use the ACT test scores for  admissions consideration, merit-based scholarships, and sometimes placement purposes
Test Structure

Reading

Writing & Language 

Math (No-calculator section)

Math (Calculator allowed sections)

 

English

Math

Reading

Science

Essay (optional)

 

Length 3 hours

 

2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay)

3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)

 

Test Breakdown

 

Reading

 – 52 questions, 65 minutes
 – 5 passages or pairs of passages (literature, historical documents, social sciences, and natural sciences)

Writing & Language

 – 44 questions, 35 minutes
 – Focus on grammar, vocabulary in contexts, writing and editing skills

Math (no-calculator)

 – 20 questions, 25 minutes
 – Topics cover Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Data Analysis

Math (calculator allowed)

 – 38 questions, 55 minutes
 – Same topics as no-calculator sections

 

English

 – 75 questions, 45 minutes
 – Focus on grammar, editing skills, and summarization

Math

 – 60 questions, 60 minutes
 – Topics cover Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Statistics

Reading

 – 40 questions, 35 minutes
 – 5 passages (humanities, social science, natural sciences, and literature)

Science

 – 40 questions, 35 minutes
 – Testing your critical thinking skills and ability to interpret data (NOT specific science knowledge)

 

Essay

 

None

 

 

40-minute optional essay testing your abilities to evaluate and analyze issues

 

Test Score System

 

The SAT test is scored on a scale of 400 – 1600

 

The ACT test is scored on a scale of 1 – 36
Test Dates

 

The SAT is typically offered on a Saturday in these months: March, May, June, August, October, November, and December

 

The ACT test is typically scheduled on a Saturday in these months: February, April, June, July, September, October, and December

 

Which should you focus on, the ACT or the SAT?

In our previous article, “Should You Be Taking Both the ACT and the SAT?”, Insight Senior College Admissions Counselor Zach Pava listed these three criteria:

Which test are you most comfortable with? 

Which test is the best fit from a timing perspective?

Which test can you score better on?

He also analyzed a few differences between the two standardized tests (summarized below)

 – The ACT tends to be more straightforward in its questions and presentation of material.

 – If you’re a student who is generally science-focused, and you enjoy reading, graphs, & data, the ACT may be a good fit for you.

 – The SAT allows students more time to spend on each question and therefore presents fewer timing challenges than the ACT. If you find time management to be a big obstacle, then you may want to consider the SAT.

 – The SAT contains one Math section in which no calculator is allowed. If you are not very confident with your computational skills, this may also be a point for consideration.

Compare your scores – Click here for the ACT – SAT Score Conversion Table.

However, the only way you would know for sure which test is more suitable for you is through experience. At Insight, we strongly encourage students who have not tried either test to take both for practice before making a decision. Doing this will expose you to the style and structure of both exams, and then we can establish which test you are more comfortable with in terms of content and timing, and ultimately which test youre likely to score better on.  From there, we can plan for when to take the exam, which is important because the SAT and ACT are offered on different dates and in some cases, different months throughout the year. We also want to establish a goal score for each student, as well as an end date when we want students to be finished with testing altogetherIdeally, you should be done before the start of your senior year, because once senior fall starts, your college applications truly will become a full-time class away from school, and you don’t want to have to give up valuable weekends preparing for these standardized tests.

 

Want to know which tests you should take? Contact us and schedule your full-length SAT and ACT practice tests today and see your score analysis!

 

Curious whether you should opt for test-optional? Check out our article: To Test, Or Not To Test? and see if your top choice colleges are in our List of Test Optional Colleges

How to Write the “Why Major” or “Why College” Essays?

During the college admissions process, you may come across many supplement essays. The most challenging one is the “why” essay. Generally, these college essay prompt asks, “Why do you want to attend our school” or “why do you want to study this specific major?”

 

(Rather watch a video instead? Check out Senior College Admissions Counselor Zach’s video on How to Write the “Why Major” and “Why College” Essays!)

 

What Do College Admissions Officers Want to See in a “Why College” Essays?

It depends on the specific college or the specific program you are applying to. When you respond to the “why college” essay, you want to address the reasons that you’re drawn to that college. Essentially, you’d share what you find unique and different about that particular university.

 

Think of the “why college” essay like a love letter. There are thousands of colleges out there you can apply to, but what makes this college THE ONE? A good “why college” essay is based on in-depth research. You really have to do your homework! Don’t just jot down the first few things you see on the college’s website. Dig deep. What are some of the opportunities that this university offers that draw you in? How do you find yourself fitting perfectly into the campus culture? Why is this college the best fit for you academically or socially? What are some of your personal goals and values that can only be achieved at this school?

 

Just like any love letter, you want the reader to feel special. The why essay should not feel generic. The easiest way to check if your why essay is too general is to substitute the name. If you can replace “College A” with “College B” in your essay and it still reads fine, then you need to rewrite and be more specific.

 

What about a “Why Major” Essay?

The “why major” essay is specific to what you are hoping to accomplish or what career path you hope to be on in the future. Not every high school student knows exactly what they want to do. That’s perfectly normal. For those who are undecided or those who have several interests, be as clear as possible on what you are trying to achieve. What drives you to this set of majors? What do you hope to explore within this particular program?

 

For those who have a better idea of what they want to do, you’d want to research the resources that this major (or program) offers. What classes are available? Why do you find them intriguing? What research opportunities are offered? What facilities and labs will you be able to utilize? What professors would you study or research under? You want to demonstrate that you’ve really looked into this program, and only this major/program at this school can offer you the unique chance to achieve your goals.

 

How to Write a Good Why Essay?

Be specific! The more focused you are on expressing what attracts you, the better. The why essay is as much about you as it is about the school (or program or major). Don’t rely on samples or templates that are out there. You may want to talk to friends or alum who went to this college, but what they tell you to write might not make good content.

 

This really needs to be about you. Think about it from the admissions officer’s perspective. They are reviewing thousands and thousands of applications. You don’t want to sound like just any average joe. You don’t want your love letter to this school/program/major to sound generic. You want it to be unique. You want it to be authentic and specific. You want your own voice to come out. Most importantly, you want your why essay to supplement your personal statement.

 

A good why essay should provide another dimension to who you are. You shouldn’t repeat information that’s already in the activity section or your personal statement. Ultimately, a good why essay shares why this college is a good fit for you while allowing the college admissions officers to get to know more about you.

 

Sounds Great! How Do I Get Started?

One way to get started on your why essay is to ask – “What did you enjoy doing?” You want to reflect on what you’ve done thus far. Think back on your high school years and what you have accomplished so far. What are the ways you can continue excelling at the college level? How can this college help you grow?

 

For example, if you have been involved in certain charity work and you love it, look for opportunities on this college campus that will allow you to explore this. What are the ways this college or program will help you expand this experience? If you have started a particular research at the high school level, you will have access to more resources, better tools, and professors that can help you to further your research. It may lead to jobs and future career paths.

 

Another way is to visit the college. Check out research opportunities online. Walk around the campus. Join a virtual information session. Schedule informational interviews with alumni. Essentially, use all the possible resources to learn more about this college. This can help you convey why you are drawn to this school with detailed examples and reasons.

 

The key point to remember as you write your why essay: you want this college (or major) to do as much for you as you can for it.

Need professional guidance for your college essays? Schedule a personalized one-hour consultation with our College Admissions Counselor


Written by Zach Pava

This article is inspired by an interview by Insight Senior Counselor Zach Pava.

Zach has guided hundreds of students throughout the college admissions process. His extensive writing background includes essay contributions online and in print, a sports blog, screenplays, and film reviews. Contact Insight Education today to schedule an initial consultation with Zach. Read his full bio here.

The Truth Behind College Admissions: Learn what it really takes to get into College from Admissions Experts

THE TRUTH BEHIND COLLEGE ADMISSIONS

A Free Community Seminar for prospective clients, hosted by INSIGHT EDUCATION! 

 

Date: April 3, 2022

Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm

Location: Insight Education Cupertino Headquarter

Address: 1601 S De Anza Blvd, Suite 108, Cupertino, CA 95014 

 

**Three (3) people per family max, please register a ticket for each member of your family** 

 

Learn what it takes to get into the colleges of your choice in our Truth behind College Admissions Seminar! Including:  

  • How has the College Admissions Landscape changed?
  • What does Holistic Admissions really mean?
  • Why does it seem harder to get into Colleges these days? 
  • Does your High School choice matter?
  • Should you take any Standardized tests? If so, which one?
  • What do colleges truly want to see on the Applications?
  • The College Application itself
  • What can you do to maximize your chances of Admissions?
  •  

Check-in begins at 9:45am for a 10:00am presentation start time!

 

Please note, parking around the location is free but can be limited. We recommend you arrive early to find your spot. In order to keep our community safe and healthy, we ask that all attendees in live events to show proof of being fully vaccinated and boosted (if eligible) or negative COVID test results within 24 hours (Antigen) / 48 hours (PCR). Please click here to see our in-person guidelines regarding COVID vaccination/tests.

 

We look forward to seeing you at the seminar,

Team Insight

5 Tips for Your College Essays

It’s no secret that your college essays can influence your college admissions chances. You probably have been planning (and possibly stressing over) what to write and how to tell your story. Insight Senior College Admissions Counselor Jenny Bloom is here to share five tips to help you get started on your college essays!

 

(More of an audio-learner? Check out Jenny’s video here)

 

1. Start early.

 

Unlike most of the essays you’ve written in school, college essays, especially your personal statement on the Common Application, require you to introspect. You don’t want to provide a laundry list of extracurricular activities, but you shouldn’t also write about how you worked really hard and finally became captain of the team. Thousands of other students share that. To craft a college essay that helps you stand out takes time. It takes time to find your unique story. It takes time to find your own voice and express your characters. It definitely takes time to revise and rewrite. A solid college essay or personal statement is something you build up, and you can’t do that in a week or two before the application is due.

Read more: How to Answer the New 2021-2022 Common App Essay Prompt

 

2. Build a routine.

 

Once school starts, you will need to balance your classes, activities, and social time. You may find it challenging to focus on your college applications. It’s really important that you build a routine and include the college admissions tasks in your routine. Designate 30-60 minutes per day to write or edit your college essays. Sometimes it can be just doodling ideas or answering a short question about yourself. Schedule it as part of your day until it becomes a habit.

 

3. Use “I” Statements.

 

Your college essays are all about you. It’s your time to shine. You want to tell colleges what you have been through or other great qualities about you. Thus, it’s important to say “I did this” or “I learned this” to put yourself in the spotlight.

 

4. Show us. Don’t tell us.

 

It’s easy to start listing your qualities or your activities, but you want to show “why this is important to you.” Rather than saying “I care about my community,” you want to dig deep and figure out why do you want college admissions officers to know about your volunteering experience, what did you learn from it, and how is this lesson meaningful to you.

 

5. Rewrite and revise.

 

No one writes the perfect first draft. That’s why they are call drafts. Review your essays and ask yourself: “does this show who I am?” or “is this what I want colleges to know?” Be critical. Read it out loud. Ask someone you trust to read it and provide you with feedback.

 

Final Thoughts:

 

Writing college essays is not easy, but you will learn a lot about yourself during this process. Invest in the time. Seek help if you need to. As always, we are here to guide you every step of the way. If you would like a 1-hour personalized college planning session, please reach out to us via email (info@insight-education.net) or give us a call (408)252-5050.

Read more: Why The College Essay Matters

 


Written by Jenny Bloom

This article is based on our interview with Insight Senior Counselor Jenny Bloom.

Jenny has worked with a variety of students since 2012 to help them take the right steps to achieve their academic goals. Part of her philosophy is to guide students to consider how they will build and hone their skills and talents to make a difference in the world around them. Contact Insight Education today to schedule an initial consultation with Jenny. Read her full bio here.

GPA Test Prep College Admissions

Top 3 Tips to Help You Start to Prepare for College Admissions

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes to every aspect of our lives, from how we socialize to how we learn, and of course, to how we need to prepare for college admissions. If you are still unsure about which path to take on your college admissions journey, don’t worry – you’re not the only one.

 

While we don’t have the superpower to predict the future, Team Insight has been keeping a close monitor on the latest college admissions news and making projections that can help keep your options open as we gear up for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.

 

Now, let’s dive in!

 

Insight Advice #1: Provide Positive Data (as much as you can).

 

A solid GPA, a progressively challenging curriculum, and well-written college essays – all of these are considered positive data about yourself. College admissions offices want to see that you can handle the academic work, but they also want to get to know you. What are your values? How do you spend your spare time? What are you devoting your time to during the summer?

 

In addition to GPA, academic profile, college essays, extracurricular activities, and awards, another positive data you can provide on your college application is test scores. A strong ACT or SAT score adds value to your college application, even for test-optional schools. In 2021, more than half of the applicants chose to submit their test scores. From the data, those who included their test scores have a higher chance of acceptance. Approximately 60% of the students who applied for Rice University submit a test score. Of the students accepted by Rice University, 80% submitted an SAT or an ACT score.

 

Insight Advice #2: Stay Informed. Prepare Ahead.

 

While we are uncertain whether test-optional admissions policies will continue, what you can do is research thoroughly into the school of your choice. Stay informed about their testing policies. Check the admissions website and their emails to see if there are any changes in test-optional policies. Most importantly, don’t wait till the last minute! It takes time to prepare for the ACT or the SAT, so plan enough time for test prep.

 

Read more: How to approach standardized testing this summer

 

At Insight, we use the term “relative to your peers” as a guide. What does it mean? In the case of testing, if your friends are planning on taking the SAT or ACT in the fall, it may be a good idea for you to take the test, too. When the admissions office evaluates your college application, they are comparing you to those similar to you, such as your high school’s graduating class. In addition, if you are applying to a competitive school or program that may have many applicants with test scores, you should also prepare for the ACT/SAT.

 

Need help improving your SAT test scores? CLICK HERE to see our summer programs

Taking the ACT instead? CHECK OUT our ACT summer boot camps

 

Insight Advice #3: Research. Research. Research.

 

The biggest 2021 college admissions trend we’ve noticed at Insight is the rise of virtual sessions. Learning about your potential school is now as easy as tapping a few keys. Attend virtual college tours. Ask your questions at virtual info sessions. Use different websites to gather information about a school of your choice. At Insight, our counselors guide students to conduct college research starting in May or earlier, and we continuously revise their list with them.

 

Read more: How to conduct virtual college visits?

 

Another trend that has been accelerated during this time is more students are applying to selective schools, which leads to decreasing acceptance rates. For example, the acceptance rate at the University of Pennsylvania in the 90s was 39%; the acceptance rate in 2021 for UPenn was 9.9%. So be practical when building your college list. Remember, every college on your list, even your safety school needs to be a school you can see yourself in.

 

Read more: Why is it important to find your Best-Fit college?

 

Concluding Thoughts

 

Even if your top schools remain test-optional, remember that test scores may still be required for scholarships or other funding opportunities. During transitions like this, you want to remain flexible and keep your options open. This may mean spending part of your summer doing test prep, but the upside is that you will not be scrambling to take the SAT or ACT at the last minute. Keeping your options open may also mean joining a virtual tour of a college you have not heard of, but you may be pleasantly surprised at what you find. As always, we are here for you! Reach out if you have any questions!

Top 3 Tips to Help You Prepare for College Admissions

 

 

Need a boost to your college admissions success?

Schedule Your 1-Hour College Planning Session

Early Decision vs. Early Action – Which to Choose?

If you are entering the college admissions process, you might have heard of these terms. You might even wonder what they are. What is the difference? Which is better for your college admissions strategy, if at all? Insight Head of College Admissions Purvi Mody is here to share with you all the insights on Early Decision and Early Action, so you can pick the option that best suits your needs.

Quick Summary

  –   Both Early action and early decision have earlier application deadlines than regular admissions.

  –   You will also receive college admissions decisions earlier, usually starting in mid-December.

  –   You can apply to as many schools as you want using EA.

  –   ED is for only one school, and it is a binding agreement, which means you have to attend when you are accepted.

“Early Decision” and “Early Action” are likely terms that you have heard before when talking about the college application process. The biggest thing to get your head around – what is the difference between the two? They have similar names but are quite different in their outcomes. 

 

 

What is Early Action?

As the name implies, your college applications are due earlier than regular application deadlines. Typical deadlines for regular applications can be December 1st and January 15, whereas early deadlines mean you’re probably submitting around November 1st. For some schools and majors, you need to complete your admissions file by mid-October.

 

There is no limit to the number of schools you can apply to using early action. This can be a great option because it means you have submitted applications to schools early in the season – they’re off your plate! But why would you want to submit your applications a month before everyone else?

 

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), early action means that “students apply early and receive a decision well in advance of the institution’s regular response date.” And that is a big advantage. You will receive your admissions decisions back earlier! You may find out in December or January about where you stand with your dream school. That may also mean you can relax and enjoy the rest of your senior year.

 

Another advantage with early action is that you do not need to commit until May 1 (the national response date), so you have almost half a year to decide and to compare financial aid packages. 

 

Though to make things confusing, some schools use restrictive early action (or single-choice early action), which is exactly like early decisions. The restrictive early action limits you to using the process only once. Thus, be diligent in your college research and weigh your options carefully before committing to applying early. 

 

What is Early Decision?

Unlike early action, early decision is binding! You can apply to only one because you are saying that if the school accepts you, you will 100% attend. Because of this commitment, colleges require signatures from you, your family, and a school counselor in order for you to apply early decision.

 

Early decision benefits students who know their first-choice college and who are confident in their odds of getting accepted. Similar to early action, you will also receive an admissions decision early, usually in December.

 

One of the challenges with early decision can be that you will not find out about other schools until later in the year. If you get into a different school that you’d actually like to attend more than your early decision school, you don’t have the option to switch. So be 100% certain about your early decision school. If you are torn on which school you would ultimately like to attend, or which major you’d like to do, early decision might not be for you.

 

Another aspect of early decision to consider is the financial side of it all. If you apply early decision, you’re telling the school that you will attend no matter what. This means they are less likely to offer you a scholarship or financial aid because they know they don’t need to add those incentives to sway you to attend their school. If you are counting on some financial help, early decision again may not be right for you.

 

Read more: Think it Through: Early Decision

 

What Are the Benefits of Applying Early?

By applying early, you stagger the deadlines, which alleviate the stress that comes with stacked regular admissions. Early action allows you until May 1 to decide whether or not you want to attend that school. Both early action and early decision show the schools that you have done your research and you are interested in these schools.

 

Something else to keep in mind is that some colleges do take a substantial amount of their incoming class from that early decision pool. Many elite schools look at early decision as a way to separate the students that are “kind of interested” from the students that are willing to commit 100% to that school. 

 

Should I Apply Early?

With all the advantages, it may seem compelling to apply early. Keep in mind that the early admissions process works best for students who know their dream school(s) and who feel they are competitive applicants.

 

How do you know if you are competitive? Check the school’s website. Most schools give you an idea of their applicant profile. In addition to your application, you need to thoroughly research the schools. It is not a blanket statement that “all elite schools will take a higher percentage of their class from the early decision applicants”. Some schools only take a slightly higher percentage, and in some cases, the difference between early and regular admissions rounds is not noticeable at all. Other than the academic offerings, campus, school culture, and location, you should also research the different available financial aid packages. 

 

Our biggest tip is to do your research! Talk to your school (and Insight) counselor, your parents, and family members. Figure out if you have a school on your list that might be a good candidate for early decision, and if you do, make sure you are prepared for the financially and mentally to commit to that school.