EARLY DECISION - November 2023
Early Decision deadlines allow you to apply early. The school reviews these applications early and students also receive an early response from the college. This is a great option if you have your heart set on one particular college. However, if this college is not first on your list or if you have any hesitation whatsoever, it is not advisable to apply as an early decision. When you apply through an early decision deadline and a college accepts you, you cannot break your contract. The college contractually obligates you to attend. If you decide to back out because you’ve changed your mind, most colleges will charge you a steep fine, which could be as much as a full year’s tuition. So... If you’re not sure, opt for Regular Decision or Early Action.
EARLY ACTION - November 2023
Early Action deadlines also allow you to send in your college application early but unlike early decision deadlines, it is not binding. You may apply to multiple colleges under early application. Thus, expect an early response from all colleges that you apply to. With early action, you are not obliged to attend any one particular college. You can apply to multiple colleges and choose any one from among those that have accepted you. Secondly, you do not have to pay any deposit while sending in your application. You only pay the deposit at the same time as the regular decision applicants.
REGULAR DECISION - January/February 2024
This is a good choice if you’re not 100% sure where you want to attend just yet. You also should choose this option if you want a bit more time to complete your application or if you’d like to retake your ACT or SAT a few more times. This is the most common type of deadline that applies to most applications. Regular decision college application deadlines are typically around the beginning of January. Colleges send the acceptance letters sometime in March. You have until the end of April to accept. When applying through regular decision there is no limit to the number of schools you can apply to. If more than one college accepts you, you can choose which one you want to go to. You are under no obligation to enroll in any one particular college.
Hope this was helpful Sophie
Great question! I would recommend to start applying for colleges the summer before your Senior year of high school. Therefore, you are ahead of the game, as well as being put on colleges radars for who is initially being ahead of the game as compared to further other students and applicants. As well, if you have prior and available time, I would recommend partaking in various college tours in order to get a better feel for which college you would prefer to study and learn at. When going through the college experience initially for me, a large portion for the decision of where I ended up was based on attending the university physically even before submitting an application. Having a better feel for where you will be for potentially the next 4 years is an acceptable and even recommended step to take.
I hope this helps Sophie and good look in your further adventures in the future!
Once you have narrowed down what colleges you want to attend, each college will have specific requirements (both for national testing like SATs etc. and college specific requirements - like when essays are due etc.). It is a good idea to look up the specific requirements of each college you are interested in to get a detailed timeline. I would expect though that the summer before your Junior year is a good time to start to understand the application requirements and timeline.
I would start looking for colleges in your junior year. Also, I would consider getting your basics at a community college. This will not only save you money but will give you additional time to decide or get accepted into the college of your choice. Also, I would highly encourage you if possible to meet with current students at the colleges you are considering. This will give you true insight into the experience. I would not rely on those "college ranking publications" for guidance.
Good luck on the journey!