Early admission…trick or treat?


It is entirely possible that I am not one of the world’s more patient people. I find myself fuming in line at the grocery store, building up serious resentment for customers in front of me who insist on paying by check (making notes in their checkbook worthy of a novella). I’m even worse when some poor soul is paying with old fashioned cash, usually while trying to include a wide variety of coins from various pockets/purse compartments.

So while I glare at the microwave for making my popcorn FAR too slowly, there are a handful of things I’d like to last a bit longer. My favorite holiday, for instance, is Halloween. Costumes – good. Candy – good. What’s not to love? I don’t expect my favorite Holiday to last forever, but you’d think we could at least get to the day of the holiday before we dump into the Hana-ramadana-mus/Chrismakah rush. So there I was yesterday, strolling (rushing) through the grocery store “promotions” aisle looking for a few more bags of candy (and maybe just one more 8 foot inflatable light up mummy) when I realize I have a far better chance of getting a singing Rudolph (with Menorah for antlers) than finding a shred of celebratory material for my beloved.

Bah. Humbug.

This may explain, to some small extent, why I find the discussion of early admission programs so aggravating. I sympathize with those of you who just want the process done and your decision made leaving you free to enjoy your senior year. At the same time, I think that many of you underestimate the potential of actually ENJOYING picking a school – of getting more than one admission and being able to take some time, compare your choices, and make an informed decision, rather than rushing the process. Would you, for instance, be willing to, absolutely and without hesitation, commit by November 1 to a prom date?

This is why many colleges and universities (like Mason!) offer early action. Early action let’s you apply and (usually) get your admission decision early, but with NO COMMITMENT. You have, at nearly every college and university, until May 1 of your senior year to make up your mind! How relaxing! NOTE/Shameless plug: Mason’s early action deadline is Monday, November 2nd, so stop relaxing and apply now!

A few colleges have figured out that they can look nice by not having Early Decision (see last post) but still (sort of) forcing you to commit. These are the (at times completely inexplicable) “restricted” or “single-choice” or “bizarre” Early Action plans. These institutions offer you “Early Action” as long as you are not applying through any other restricted early process. Did that make sense? No? I sympathize, I really do. Go have a nice candy cane or chocolate dreidel to make yourself feel better. Happy Halloween! Be seeing you.

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4 Responses

  1. Generally speaking, is the Mason early action program more competitive or less competitive than regular decision?

    And as far as regular decision goes at Mason, I know the deadline for being considered for scholarships is December 1st. Would you recommend applying as soon as one can, say, the first week of November?

    • Great question. Most universities claim that their early processes are the same as their regular decisions, but that’s usually hooey (or perhaps malarkey). The reality is that applying early is generally considered to be a strong demonstration of interest, so tends to weigh at least to come extent in an applicants favor when decisions are made. That being said, the difference is rarely very large, and on rare instances it can even work the other way. In that scenario, University ‘A’ reviews their early applicants using some standard they set based on an assumption about the number of total applications they would receive that year, and the likely qualifications of those applicants. Unfortunately, University ‘A’ comes to find out, after regular admission deadlines, that they have way fewer applicants, far lower profile applicants, or both fewer and less qualified applicants than they anticipated. As a result, Univeristy ‘A’ rapidly shifts gears and uses a more flexible (also known as, “lower”) admission standard for regular applicants than the school used for early applicants. Also, the Dean of Admissions generally starts his or her job search.
      So, for the most part early is in your favor. As with many parts of the admissions process, however, it’s nearly impossible to predict with any certainty. Be seeing you!

  2. I can completely understand your frustration. On the outside it looks like a gift all wrapped up in fancy packaging. It is exiting to open up and even to turn it around and around to admire it. But take it for a test run and you see all the flaws. It truly is a lesson in reading the fine print. Early admission can have some serious drawbacks.

  3. Hi,
    Early decision might be a great option for someone without any money worries. They know where they want to go and they don’t have to worry about weighing financial aid packages. We know of someone who did this at Wesleyan and she is really enjoying it there. She applied to one school, knew where she was going early and it all worked out for her. It depends on your circumstances.

    Best,
    Bob

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