When Should You Apply to College?


Steven Samuelson

Make sure to go to the websites of the schools you are applying to so that you know all the Early Action, Early Decision, and Regular Decision deadline dates.

Amber Reddish , Photojournalist

As October begins, so do college applications. Most schools begin to accept applications on October 1st, yet there are many different deadline options. For the majority of students applications bring forth a ton of confusion and questions.The first questions you need to ask yourself are what do the deadlines mean and which ones are the most important for you to meet?

Many schools will offer either Early Decision applications or Early Action along with the Regular Decision option. When, and if, you choose to select one of the early options you need to be very careful with your choice. If you choose Early Decision, this is a binding agreement that if you get accepted into this school then you will go to this school. This may be the right choice for you if the school which you choose Early Decision for is your number one choice, but that also means that you have to go there regardless of whether or not they give you scholarships, your first choice major, or any other perk you were hoping to receive. On the other hand, Early Action is a non-binding agreement. Early Action just allows the schools to space out the amount of applications they are receiving so that they are not bombarded with them all at one time; it also benefits you by knowing whether you have been accepted earlier. Lastly, Regular Decision just means that you are applying at the latest deadline and will hear back from the schools later than you would from an early application. Although, at some schools Regular Decision is the only option.

When you are deciding which time period there are many things to consider, the first being are you ready to apply? If you are done taking the SAT/ACT and have gone through your application and essay multiple times than Early Choices are probably a good fit for you. All you need to do is decide whether you want to commit to a school or leave your options open. Samantha Bohling (12) says she “wants to apply for Early Decision at Penn State since it is [her] dream school,” so she is a great example of a good fit for an Early Decision application. If you are planning on taking the SAT/ACT again or if you need more time to review your application, you may want to wait for the Regular Decision deadline. Statistically you are more likely to be accepted with an early application, yet this is probably due to the fact that students with higher grades and scores are likely more prepared and would apply earlier.

Whether you decide to apply for Early Action, Early Decision, or Regular Decision, the most important thing is to put your best foot forward. It is better to apply later with a stronger application than to apply earlier with a weaker one. No one person is the same, therefore one option doesn’t work for everyone. If you need a little extra help our counselors here at Yorba Linda High School host “Coffee with Counselor” events to offer that to you. You can find future dates for these events at ylhs.org under counseling & student services.