Nothing can quite convey the roller coaster of stress students face as they approach the application deadline as powerfully as students themselves. “Applying to a college abroad is not easy. You have SATs, essays, application forms, transcripts etc; along with juggling your school activities. It always helps to seek guidance,” says Arnav Tainwala, who applied through Early Decision at Columbia University and got accepted.
There are about 100,000 Indian students applying to colleges in the US every year increasing the competition to secure a seat at a reputed college or course. “Students need to prepare months in advance for tests like GRE, GMAT, SAT, TOEFL and IELTS. They need to prepare application essays, resume, transcripts, SoPs (Statement of Purpose) and more,” says Natasha Jain, CEO, Freshmentors, an online mentoring platform that counsels students in overseas education. She adds that the acceptance rates at some top institutes are decreasing to as low as 5 to 6 per cent, leading to a highly competitive application process.
Students need to fill lengthy applications forms, finance related documents, visa applications, potential interviews, post admission formalities and get the perfect Letter of Recommendation (LoR). “Applications are due a year before students want to begin the term. This means that students have to be prepared in advance in order to put in a good application with the required documents. It can be quite stressful if they begin everything last minute,” advises Alisha Mashruwala, overseas education counsellor.
For students who want to get a leg up on their college applications, there are Early Action (EA) and Early Decision (ED) admissions policies offered in a number of colleges in the US, where students can send in their applications before the regular deadlines. In this format, applications are due in November, the year before one starts college and students hear back from colleges in December.
Jain explains the difference between EA and ED stating that they have different legal liabilities.
Submitting an application under ED, would legally bind the student to accept if an admission offer is made and withdraw applications from other colleges. Unlike ED, EA is not legally binding. It lets the students know the admission status so they can still apply in other colleges and see if they get selected in the college of their choice. However, “Since ED is a binding contract, you must apply to a university you certainly do wish to study in as, if you are accepted, then you will not be allowed to apply anywhere else,” informs Jain.
Experts suggest that an EA and ED application communicates a candidate’s sincerity and keenness in that university or programme. “ The presence of demonstrated interest has become a key consideration in the admissions process and one of the ways to demonstrate your interest is by applying early,” suggests Jain. Angad Anand, a student at California State University who applied for ED agrees, “If the college has a binding early admissions policy, early applications is the most effective way to show your commitment to the institution.”
“ED improves the chances of getting accepted to a specific college because one will be competing against a smaller pool of students,” says Mashruwala adding that each college has their own policies on ED. “I still remember the day I got my acceptance letter from Columbia University. ED not only saved me the hassel to apply to other colleges but it gave the sense of security to know where I was heading,” concludes Tainwala.
Who should apply for ED?
Students who have thoroughly done their research and are certain that this college is a good fit for them academically, socially, and within their financial means and they are able to attend this college regardless of the merit based aid that they receive
Who should apply for EA?
If you have more than one first-choice college or if you want to compare other academic, athletic or social opportunities available at other top-choice school. If your application is top-notch and you have the time to carry manage the application process and school.