Common College Application Terms

November 26, 2013 
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College Application TermsNavigating the college application process can be daunting. With so many different schools, majors, and course tracks, it’s important to research your options and plan ahead. While each school is unique, there are some common terms you might come across.

Below are 5 common terms you’ll encounter while working on your college applications.

Rolling Admission

What is it? Colleges that have a Rolling Admission policy generally have a longer application season than other colleges. In many cases applications are accepted starting in early fall and may remain open until all available spaces are taken. In addition, unlike typical admission policies in which colleges wait for their application deadlines to review applications and send decisions, Rolling Admission colleges review a student’s completed application as soon as it has been received, and notify the student as soon as a decision is made. Notifications can arrive as quickly as a few weeks after application.

Whom does it benefit? Earlier notifications of admission allow more time for future planning. Depending on the school, an early notification of admission may also include results on housing and financial aid packages. Admissions officers may even be able to give more time to reviewing the strengths of each applicant, avoiding the time crunch around one or two deadlines.

Early Decision

What is it? Early Decision is not for the indecisive; colleges use this term to indicate that if the applicant is granted admission, he or she agrees to enroll at that university. Applicants typically apply in the early fall and are notified of their status by mid-December. If students are not accepted, they will either be rejected or deferred until regular decisions are granted to the rest of the applicant pool. Deferred students are not obligated to enroll if they are granted admission at the regular time.

Whom does it benefit? Early Decision is a good option for students who are committed to attending a top-choice school, and are confident that they have a strong application. If a student’s heart is not set on attending a particular school, waiting until the regular, non-binding admission deadline is likely a better option.

Early Action

What is it? Like Early Decision, Early Action allows students to submit their applications in the fall and be notified of the school’s decision well before the spring admissions occur. Unlike Early Decision, Early Action is not binding; students have the opportunity to decide at a later date if they will attend the school. With Early Action, students will be notified of being accepted, rejected, or deferred; deferred students will be reviewed again with the regular applicant pool.

Whom does it benefit? Any student with a strong application who is eager to hear from a school, and who may potentially have some extra time to make a decision can benefit from applying Early Action.

Wait List

What is it? Being granted a place on the wait list means that a college neither accepts nor rejects a candidate; instead, the potential exists for a future offer of admission.

Whom does it benefit? Any student who is placed on the wait list could potentially benefit. As colleges analyze their projected enrollment, they will re-evaluate waitlisted students and offer admission based on the number of available spaces. While being wait-listed might initially seem like a negative, many schools accept students off their wait list each year.

Common App

What is it? The Common App is the term used to describe a shared online application system used by more than 500 colleges and universities. Instead of filling out individual applications for each college, the Common App allows students to apply to multiple schools with a single application. Be advised, however, that some schools will have supplemental sections of requested information or essays that will also need to be submitted.
 
Whom does it benefit? All applicants may benefit from using the Common Application; it allows applicants to save time and apply to many schools at once.

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