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College Application Terminology
  • Early decision is a binding agreement between the student and that university. If the student is accepted, they have to attend. This is best for students who are determined to get into a specific school.
  • Early action is not binding. The student will simply find out sooner whether or not they have been accepted and at some schools, they will also have a shot at more merit money.
  • Restrictive– If the student applies to a school with a restrictive early action plan, they can’t apply for any other early action or early decision plan at any other college – in other words: choose wisely, young Padawan. They can only apply to that one college or university but the student isn't required to accept an offer of admission (like they do with early decision).
  • Non-restrictive -Colleges with a non-restrictive early action plan allows students to apply to whatever colleges they are interested in, provided, of course, that they are also non-restrictive early action colleges (or if the student has applied for regular admission). The client can also apply to one early decision college in addition to multiple non-restrictive early action colleges.
  • Personal Statement-- Also known as the application essay.  Most competitive schools require at least one major statement, many times two or more, along with multiple so-called short-response answers.  These schools admit half (or well less) of all who apply.  Admission committees use personal statements to learn more about their applicants.

If students apply Early Decision, make sure that school is really their top choice and that you can really envision yourself there. By applying Early Decision, the student is signing a contract. This contract commits the student to enrolling at that college if the student is accepted. The student must also withdraw all other college applications. If the student applies Early Action, on the other hand, the student can still submit other college applications even if they are accepted.