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Five Reasons You Should Submit Your College Applications Early

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This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

Deadlines for applying to college vary by university, and some can be pretty far into the spring semester. It’s your senior year, and you want to relax and enjoy your last homecoming and the fall holidays, so why should you worry about applying to college now?

Well, there are many benefits to applying to college early. Applying Early Decision or Early Action to a school will get you your decision back faster.

Applying Early Decision enters you into a binding commitment with a college saying that if you’re accepted, you will attend. You get your decision back before regular appliers and can avoid the stress of making a decision.

Applying Early Action does not entail any sort of commitment, but it lets you get your results back quicker, which is wonderful for all us over thinkers out there.

Some schools don’t offer these options, so what’s the point of applying early? Even if you don’t want to officially apply Early Decision or Early Action anywhere, there are still plenty of good reasons to not wait too long before applying to both your dream schools and your safeties. 

1. Rolling Admissions

Many universities accept students on a rolling basis. This means that instead of releasing all their decisions on one day, everyone finds out at different times depending on when they apply.

Applying early can give you a leg up in getting accepted before spots begin to fill up and schools have to get pickier. Even if you’re not applying to any rolling admissions universities, schools that don’t utilize rolling admissions may delegate scholarships and financial aid the same way – on a first come first serve basis.

Most schools that have Honors Colleges operate on this same principle. Do yourself a favor and get on the top of that list! Show your dedication by prioritizing your application. In return, you may just be prioritized back. 

2. Less Stressful Winter Break

A considerable amount of application deadlines fall during December and February break. These are your last winter breaks as a high school student, so you probably want to make the most of them instead of spending them writing essays and collecting references.

Save yourself the panicked last minute applications by creating a schedule when the Common App opens and trying to stick to it. Allow yourself to enjoy the holidays with your family and friends without worrying about staying up to complete your applications.

You’ve earned it! Allow your guidance counselor to relax on their time off without having to worry about any panicked, last minute emails. They’ve earned it, too.  

How to Know If Applying Early Is Right For You

3. Fee Waivers

Some public universities have periods of time early on in the fall semester where their application fees are waived. Right now, you can apply to five SUNY schools for free. Normally that would cost $250!

If you keep track of the schools you’re interested in, you can see if they have any special perks for early appliers such as fee waivers, prospective-student orientation days, or first access to interviews. Even for schools without large application fees, the money adds up quickly. Try to save this cash wherever you can.

4. Autumn Visits

This one is more of a personal opinion, but I think autumn is the best time to visit a university. Schools will usually have open house events multiple times a year, but autumn is when most of the programs are dedicated to prospective and new students rather than admitted ones.

Apply early and visit your top schools to get a feel for the energy! Homecoming is always when school spirit is high, so this is a great time to get a feel for your possible future home.

It also helps to have visited early so that by the time you receive your decisions, you have a better feel for your schools and less stress in making a choice. 

5. You Never Know

Life is strange and unpredictable, and colleges can be even more strange and unpredictable. You may not want to apply to your safer choices EA, because you’d rather worry about your dream schools first. Then if they don’t work out, you can fall back on your safe choices.

But waiting too long to apply to “safe” schools can be detrimental— you may lose access to perks such as applying for their honors college, being top of the list for financial aid, or even having the time to visit the school.

I love my school but I applied last minute. I often wonder if I could’ve secured more financial aid or been considered for the honors college if I had applied earlier.

I know I would’ve at least not had to pay the application fee. Hindsight is 20/20, but let my story be your forewarning! Don’t put off your safeties. Your safeties could be your saviors. 

All in all, make it a point to beat procrastination when applying to colleges. You want to show schools the best version of yourself and it’s good to make a strong, positive impression early on rather than wait too long where last minute disasters could put your whole application in peril.

Take advantage of the opportunities offered to early appliers and make the most of your college application journey while still allowing yourself the time to relax and decompress over the winter holidays. Trust me, you’ll need it before the next four years! 

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Author: Zoe Bussewitz

Hello! I am a sophomore at Stony Brook University currently studying abroad at the University of Manchester. I study Journalism and Social Sciences (politics, psychology, linguistics). I worked in Stony Brook’s Study Abroad office for a year and am passionate about sharing global educational experiences with you all! In my spare time I enjoy filmmaking, playing folk and fiddle music, and traveling anywhere and everywhere.