Exploring your options: College Apps 101

Skylar Smith '18

Skylar Smith, Business Manager

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Most students at Xavier have felt overwhelmed by college admissions at some point during their time in high school. The amount of essays, resumes, recommendations and basic information questions associated with applying for college is enough to fill someone with anxiety. Additionally, the different types of college admissions can be extremely confusing.

Currently, colleges use early action, restrictive early action, early decision, regular decision and rolling admission to accept, waitlist or deny a student. All of these decisions are somewhat complex and confusing. However, in this article, these various types of college admissions will be explained thoroughly to prevent any further uncertainty.

The first type of college admission is early action. Early action is like one’s chill, go-with-the-flow cousin who you secretly kind of admire but are also wary of. With this type of admission, applications will typically be due from early to mid November and decisions will be received sometime in December.

This is a very popular option for students applicants because one finds out their admissions decision earlier, but does not have to commit to the school. In fact, one does not have to place their deposit on a college until May 1. A student can apply to as many early action colleges as she wants due to it being non-binding.

Additionally, schools will usually have a higher acceptance rate during this admissions cycle. However, one should not apply to a college under early action if they have not spent sufficient time developing the perfect application for it, as the quick deadline does not leave a lot of time for preparation. In addition, if a student needs another semester to raise their grades or standardized test scores, they should not apply under early action as these applicants are typically very competitive.

Senior Sydney Missigman said, “I’m applying early action to most of my colleges mostly because I want to know sooner!” She also commented that “another advantage is that some early action programs are less competitive than regular admission. Even though it may be more work at first, I think applying earlier is the way to go because it allows you to know where you’re going to college faster.”

Restrictive early action is like the more stern sibling of early action, who is probably majoring in something ending in -logy. With this type of college admission, a student is not permitted to apply to any other private school under early action. The dates associated with early action still apply here, and one is not bound to this decision. They can accept or decline the offer by May 1. The major difference with this type is that a student cannot apply to more than one school early action.

“I’m still debating about applying restrictive early action to my top school because I don’t want to be at a disadvantage by not applying to many schools through early action. I would recommend restrictive if you are pretty sure about the college,” said senior Andy Muniz.

If early action is the hippie vagabond and restrictive early action is its more serious, astute sibling, then early decision is like one’s romance novel obsessed aunt who has been in a fully committed marriage with her high school sweetheart for over 40 years. In more serious terms, a student can only apply to one school under this type of admissions and, if they are accepted, they must attend the college. When one applies under this, they literally sign a binding contract committing to a school. The one loophole is if one is applying for financial aid and does not receive enough money.

The dates are the same as early and restrictive actions, but this admissions type is the most binding, if admitted. One should only, and I mean only, apply to a school under early decision if they’re 100% sure that this school is their top choice. This is because once a student gets accepted, they are definitely going to that college.

Regular decision is like that uncle who always shows up a little late to the family reunion, but stays for the perfect time. The deadline for applications under regular decision ranges from January to February. One will receive their admissions decision sometime in March or April. Unlike early decision, regular decision is not binding so a student can apply to as many schools under this type of admissions as their heart desires. However, one must keep in mind that applications take a lot of time, so it would be wise not to apply to too many under this deadline. Additionally, this admissions type has lower acceptance rates than its early counterparts, so a student is more likely to be rejected.

“I’m applying both early action and regular decision to different colleges. I like regular decision because I have more time to do my applications and the decision isn’t binding,” said senior Lacey Nixon.

The final type of admissions is rolling admission. This one is difficult to compare to a person, so I’m going to describe rolling admission as an omnipresent ghost that, like Casper the Friendly Ghost, is not unsettling. There are no application deadlines for rolling admission, as this admissions type accepts students all throughout their senior year. Applying as early as possible is recommended, however, because once a college accepts their typical amount of students one cannot apply.

Usually one will receive their admissions decision a few weeks after their application is received. Rolling admission is also non-binding and one can apply to as many schools using this admissions type as they so choose.

“I applied to Arizona State University under rolling admission because I wanted to secure my place and find out as quick as possible,” explained senior Kennedy Van Norman.

Overall, these types of admissions may seem daunting at first but once broken down, are not so dreadful. When applying to college, carefully decide which admissions type is right for you and watch the acceptances roll in.

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