Colleges and universities have varying admission practices.  Information pertaining to the policy of a prospective school will be found in its publications.  Some of the more frequently mentioned practices are:

Single Choice Early Action:  Some schools allow you to apply early without a binding commitment, but they specify that you cannot apply early action or early decision to any other school.

Early Decision:  Students who have demonstrated sound academic ability apply for admission to their first choice college early in their senior year.  Notification of admission is given usually in December or January.  Many schools have Early Decision round two due around Jan. 1.  Restrictive policies vary with each school and must be checked carefully to see if early decision works to the individual’s advantage.  Generally, if you apply Early Decision you must also sign a commitment to attend if accepted and to withdraw any applications submitted to other colleges.  Be sure it is your first choice school.

Early Action:  This plan allows students to indicate a first choice college and receive a decision in the senior year well in advance of the normal response date in the spring.  Students are not committed to enroll if accepted.

Rolling Admission:  As soon as an application is completed (meaning that forms, the fee, and all required credentials have been received and processed) a decision on that application is made and the student if notified.  It is generally advantageous for students to apply well in advance of the posted deadline because it is impossible to know how quickly the available spaces are being filled.

Regular Decision:  The processes whereby a college accepts applications from prospective students and delays the admission decision until all applications from the entire applicant pool have been received.  Decision letters are mailed to applicants, all at
once, traditionally in March or April.

Deferred Admission:  Students who have alternate plans for the year following high school may ask their college for deferred admission once they have been accepted.  The application process and timetable remain the same as for regular admission.

Open Enrollment:  A term now used by an institution that publishes a set of admission standards and pledges to admit any student whose credentials equal or exceed them.  Most often used by community colleges.

Wait List:  The process used by selective colleges who do not initially offer or deny admission, but extend the possibility of admissions to a later date (usually late May through July).  Students should accept another college’s offer since waiting lists acceptances are very inconsistent.  (Discuss all wait list situations with your counselor.  Second semester grades and your method of reply can be critical to your acceptance.)