It may be October, but this is no trick: The early college application deadline of November 1 is less than one month away!
Should you apply to college early? And how do you even get started? If your head is spinning, lean on us to help. We’ll unpack all this (and more), so read on!
I’m a high school senior — why is November 1 important?
As we wrote about last month, November 1 is the early application deadline for many colleges and universities. To recap, most colleges you’ll apply to are probably “early action” schools. If you get accepted to an early action school, you can still apply to other colleges. On the other hand, acceptance to an “early decision” school comes with a binding agreement to enroll there and the caveat that you must withdraw all your other college applications.
Applying to college early takes planning and focus, as you have far less time to get your materials (including test scores, letters of recommendation, and essays) in order. But is it impossible? No way!
Why should I apply early?
Students apply to college early for many reasons. For starters, applying early means you’ll be notified of your admission decision by mid-December, which can help you plan the rest of your senior year.
Applying to college early can also help convey preparedness and your desire to attend a particular school — especially when backed with a stellar application essay. (That’s where we come in!) And while acceptance rates vary, data provided to U.S. News & World Report by a sample of colleges and universities show that 90 percent of schools are more likely to admit students who apply early.
That said, applying to college early isn’t right for everyone. If you’re not confident in the current state of your application — or if you could benefit from a few extra months of strong grades on your transcript — it’s probably better to target the standard application deadline of January 1 instead.
I want to apply early. What should I be doing right now?
If your sights are set on applying to college early, now is the time to hunker down and get to work. Your to-do list should include:
Create a Common App account and get familiar with the site. Creating an account can take time, and you’ll need a bunch of information, including test scores, a copy of your high school transcript, academic achievements, and more.
Research specific application requirements for the colleges you want to attend, including any supplemental essays you’ll need to write.
Request letters of recommendation from your school counselor and two teachers who can speak to your awesomeness as a student, leader, and person.
Start drafting your application essays. We suggest students begin this process by writing down everything that makes them unique and seeing what themes emerge. (Pro tip: Download our free Key Messages Worksheet to help you write stronger, more engaging essays!)
Let’s Stay Connected
We’re here to support you through November 1 and beyond. Follow along on Instagram and Facebook — and if you’re looking for 1:1 essay coaching or help navigating the college application process, drop us a line anytime!