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There are many different admission options, so it is important for you to understand the various plans and deadlines and to discuss with your college counselor which one is appropriate for you. Some of the more common options are briefly reviewed below.

Regular Decision: This is the most common plan. Typically, students will apply to a college sometime before a deadline, which might range from January 1 to March 1. After the deadline the college reviews all the applications and notifies students of admission decisions around April 1, giving those students until May 1 to reply to the offer of admission.

Early Action: This is a plan for the strongest students to apply to an early action college usually in November. The decision will be made by December 15, but the student does not have to commit to the college until the May 1 common reply date, at which time he may wish to go elsewhere (colleges applied to on regular decision plans). This option is particularly competitive, and some colleges reject students whom they foresee as being weak in the later, regular admission pool. Generally, it is the more selective colleges that have this type of plan. Students who are deferred in the early round will be considered later in the context of the entire regular admission pool.

Restrictive Early Action: Used by a few very competitive colleges such as Stanford and Yale, this plan is the same as above except the student may only submit one early application.

Early Decision: This is a plan for the student who has a first choice college and is a reasonable candidate for that institution. Some colleges have more than one early decision deadline. There is some competitive advantage for a qualified student; however, if admitted you are expected to attend that college and withdraw other regular decision applications you may have filed. You are asked to sign a statement of this intent. You should only pursue this option if you are absolutely certain about your choice. It should not be used as a means to simply complete the process early. Obviously you cannot file simultaneously more than one early decision application. Again, deferred students will be reconsidered in the later rounds.

Rolling Admission: This is the practice of processing an application as soon as the candidate’s files are complete and notifying the applicant as soon as the decision is made. It is to your advantage to submit applications early to colleges with rolling admission. Ordinarily it takes at least two weeks to process a completed file and notify the applicant. Sometimes financial aid may be used up before a rolling admissions cycle is complete.

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