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The Highland Echo

It is time to decide how to apply

Jessi Barker, Out and About Editor

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Above: Senior Jessi Barker works on filling out her college application materials. Photo Courtesy: The Highland Echo staff

Every year, students are asked the same question over and over again– where do you think you want to go to college? By senior year, having had time to ponder this question endlessly, students should have an idea of some colleges to which they may want to apply. Every year, students are asked the same question over and over again– where do you think you want to go to college? By senior year, having had time to ponder this question endlessly, students should have an idea of some colleges to which they may want to apply.

Secondary schools recommend applying to more than one college, and having a ‘safety school’ as a backup plan. A ‘safety school’ is a college with affordable tuition, where a person is almost guaranteed acceptance. Even though this college might not be the student’s top choice, it is a safe and affordable backup in case the desired option falls through.  After narrowing down the options, the next choice seniors will have to face is what application decision plan to choose that bests suits their needs.

There are three standard decision processes: Early Decision, Early Action, and Regular Decision. The Early Decision process is usually best for the student who is certain of the college he or she wishes to attend. The process is typically binding, meaning that if the college accepts the student,  s/he is then required to withdraw applications from any other colleges to which  s/he has applied. The only way to back out of an accepted Early Decision plan is if the person can prove that s/he can no longer afford the schooling. If a student cannot prove that s/he cannot pay the tuition, s/he is stuck with the initial decision. It is important to be completely and absolutely sure of the selection of college when choosing to go down the Early Decision route.

The Early Action process is very similar to the Early Decision process. In the Early Action route, like Early Decision, the student will receive notice of his or her acceptance three to four months earlier than in a regular application. An additional benefit of Early Action is that if one chooses to use this process for a particular college, one can still apply to other colleges using Early Action or regular decision, and it is not binding.

Contrary to popular belief, neither of these application processes are likely to increase one’s chances of getting accepted into the college to which s/he is applying. The main benefit of using these processes is to have the ability to know earlier about one’s acceptance or denial from the college of his or her choice. This allows for seniors to reduce a bit of stress from their last year in high school, and  enables them to focus on other activities.

Although knowing that one was accepted into his or her first choice school is very stress relieving, these application routes essentially force colleges mainly to focus on freshmen through junior year grades, because the applications are sent in near the beginning of senior year.The majority of students use the regular application process, as they are given more time to submit their applications, and it typically does not increase or decrease one’s chances of being accepted.

If seniors need time to boost their GPAs, it is recommended to use the regular application process.  With the regular application process, students will receive notice of their acceptance or denial to colleges by late March to early April, two to three months later than the Early Action option. Similar to Early Action, students will have until May 1 to respond to the college with a final decision regarding attendance.

The idea of beginning to make college decisions can be very intimidating for seniors, especially when they are not completely sure where exactly they want to go. It is important for students to research any college in which they are interested, and  also to consider the college’s academic programs, location, campus style, student body size, and athletic program and division.

If students are having trouble finding colleges that suit their needs, or are unsure of which application process is right for them, they should stop by guidance to schedule an appointment with their counselor to discuss the options.

Although making college decisions seems like a daunting task, when using the resources and support provided from the school, students are able  successfully to find the colleges for which they are searching,  and can apply to them with ease.

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The student news site of West Milford Township High School
It is time to decide how to apply