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In our last post, we detailed how to prepare for college application season starting freshman year. Once you’ve checked all those boxes, you’ll not only have your application all ready to go, you’ll also be an amazing candidate for your dream schools. Now that you’re ready to apply, it’s time to figure out WHEN to apply.

You may have heard of different deadlines for “rolling admission,” “early decision,” “early action” and “regular decision.” But what do those terms even mean?

Early Action (EA)

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What: Early Action is a non-binding early round application. This means that you are not obligated to attend if accepted Early Action and have until May 1 to make your decision (the same deadline as Regular Decision). Most schools allow you to apply EA to multiple colleges and universities.
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When: ED deadlines vary, but generally fall in early November. Acceptances, rejections and deferrals are also earlier and generally come out by the end of December.
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Why: Applying ED can increase your chances of acceptance, especially to schools with low acceptance rates. It could be helpful to look at the admission statistics of regular vs. early decision at the school you are interested in to see if it would in fact give you an advantage. Another huge perk is that if you are accepted, you will know where you are going to college and be done with the application process by the end of first semester.

*In addition to Early Action and Early Decision, some schools also offer a second round which would be called Early Action II and Early Decision II. EA/ED II will generally have a January deadline (like regular decision schools), but the decision results will come back earlier than regular decisions do. (You’d hear back 4-8 weeks later, in late January to early February, as opposed to regular decision which would be in March or April).

Restrictive Early Action (REA)

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What: Like EA, Restrictive Early Action is a non-binding early round application. However, unlike regular EA, REA means you will choose one school only and may not apply to any other schools early.

When: REA deadlines vary, but generally fall in November. Acceptances, rejections and deferrals are also earlier and generally come out by the end of December.

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What: Like EA, Restrictive Early Action is a non-binding early round application. However, unlike regular EA, REA means you will choose one school only and may not apply to any other schools early.

When: REA deadlines vary, but generally fall in November. Acceptances, rejections and deferrals are also earlier and generally come out by the end of December.

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Why: Applying REA indicates to the school that they arhttps://vertoeducation.org/verto-education/vertos-guide-to-college-deadline-terminology/e your number one choice, and it can significantly increase your chances of acceptance. Like EA, REA could help make the rest of your application process speedier and more clear.

Early Decision (ED)

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What: Early Decision applications are binding, meaning you are obligated to attend if you’re accepted. (So you can only apply to one school for ED). If accepted, you must withdraw any applications to other schools and will have to submit a deposit prior to the regular May 1 deadline.

The only situation in which you can back out of your early decision, is if the financial aid package doesn’t meet your needs. (Be sure to be in touch with a representative of the school ahead of time if you have concerns about the financial feasibility of your ED).

As such, you should feel confident that the school is your clear first choice and you would be more than happy to attend if accepted.

When applying ED, most schools will allow you to apply EA to other schools as well, but others might ask that you submit only one early application so be sure to check.

When: ED deadlines vary, but generally fall in early November. Acceptances, rejections and deferrals are also earlier and generally come out by the end of December.

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When: ED deadlines vary, but generally fall in early November. Acceptances, rejections and deferrals are also earlier and generally come out by the end of December.
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Why: Applying ED can increase your chances of acceptance, especially to schools with low acceptance rates. It could be helpful to look at the admission statistics of regular vs. early decision at the school you are interested in to see if it would in fact give you an advantage. Another huge perk is that if you are accepted, you will know where you are going to college and be done with the application process by the end of first semester.

*In addition to Early Action and Early Decision, some schools also offer a second round which would be called Early Action II and Early Decision II. EA/ED II will generally have a January deadline (like regular decision schools), but the decision results will come back earlier than regular decisions do. (You’d hear back 4-8 weeks later, in late January to early February, as opposed to regular decision which would be in March or April).

Rolling Admissions

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What: Applications are considered and decided on as they are received (rather than evaluating all applications at the same time after a hard deadline). Acceptances are non-binding and you can apply to as many rolling admissions schools as you’d like, even if you’ve applied early to other schools.
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When: Rolling admissions means there is not any set deadline, although you will need to apply a few weeks before the start of the term.

However, applications are accepted until all spots are filled so it may get more competitive as the incoming class reaches its max size. Applying earlier rather than later will increase your chance of acceptance.

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Why: Depending on when you apply, you can be notified of a decision before many of your other deadlines so you can adjust your application strategy from there.

Rolling admission can also be helpful as a last resort. You can always apply to rolling schools at the last minute if you didn’t get the results you were hoping for and want to have more options available.

Regular Decision

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What: Regular decision is not binding and you can apply Regular Decision to as many schools as you’d like. Keep in mind that Regular Decision means you’ll be compared to a larger pool of applicants, so if a school is really important to you, make sure to demonstrate your interest in other ways.
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When: Regular Decision deadlines are generally between January and February depending on the school. Decisions will come out by April 1st, and you must respond about whether or not you will attend by May 1st.
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Why: Regular Decision allows you to cast a wider net and gives you more time to plan and adjust your application strategy based on early action results.

It can be helpful to apply Regular, late Rolling, or EA II/ED II if you want to be able to include your grades and activities from the first semester of your senior year (to demonstrate improvement) or submit a higher score from a late retaking of standardized tests.

Keep in Mind:

Each school might have additional deadlines for honors programs, or an additional application or deadline for scholarships and financial aid.

If applying for financial aid, you should aim to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as January 1st. This will help ensure that you receive the highest possible amount of financial aid.

It is crucial that you make a calendar to keep track of all the deadlines for your schools!

Also remember that dates and definitions may vary slightly by school. Check out the admission’s section of the school’s official website or call the admissions office to confirm the school’s deadlines and policies.

Verto’s Early Enrollment

Verto has an early enrollment program that can help make your application process much smoother.

Much like the common app, you can apply to any of our partner schools all in one go directly through Verto, allowing you to streamline the application process.

When you apply to universities early through Verto’s Early Enrollment, you are letting those schools know they are your top picks. The fact that your admission would be for spring enrollment can increase your chances of acceptance as well. Applying through Verto can give you the best opportunity to get into your dream schools.

And commitment-phobes, you can exhale because the applications are totally non- binding.

The cherry on top? You will get an admission decision in 2-4 weeks which is WAY before the typical April 1st decision deadline.

Picture this: You apply to the universities of your choice via Verto’s Early Enrollment and within a month you know that not only are you going on the adventure of a lifetime with Verto in the fall, you’re also all set to start at your dream school in the spring when you return.

When you apply through Verto, you can have everything confirmed and planned out by the beginning of your senior year!

We hope this breakdown helps alleviate some of those pre-college jitters. And to save you some major sweat, we’ve also made a timeline for how to prepare for college during each year of high school. Check out that post here.

At Verto, we want YOU to find the perfect post-high school plans for YOU. We’d love to help you plan for an epic start to college with a Verto semester abroad. Reach out to our team to learn more!