For years, we’ve advised almost all of our students to apply Early Action or Early Decision to their first choice school. But Princeton recently announced it will eliminate Early Action for next year’s applicants, which means everyone applying to Princeton will apply during the same round and with the same deadline.
At this point, Princeton’s the only ivy to eliminate its early round, but many colleges have discussed extending their Early Decision deadlines, and we expect Princeton’s decision to embolden other schools to scrap their early rounds altogether.
If your favorite school eliminates—or extends—its early round, here’s what you need to know:
Though most schools have made the SAT and ACT optional next year, there’s still a crucial distinction between “test optional” and “test blind.” (We unpack the differences here.) Later deadlines give students more opportunities to test. And if you’re applying under a later round, your application will likely be read against a greater number of apps that include testing. Remember, a strong test score can only increase your chance of admission. If you’re applying to a school that only went test optional because of COVID-19, that school likely still values testing as part of their review process. If your favorite school has extended (or eliminated) its early deadline, we still recommend most students submit scores if they can.
Typically, applying early is the best way to prove “demonstrated interest.” Colleges want to admit students who will enroll. And early rounds tend to have higher acceptance rates, in part, because applying Early Decision or Restricted Early Action is the best way to prove a school is your first choice.
If your number one choice eliminates its early round, you’ll need to work even harder to show that school you’re interested. Reach out to your regional admission representative to introduce yourself and express your interest. Make sure your high school college office knows the school is your first choice so they can advocate for you appropriately. And, most importantly, spend even more time on the school’s supplemental essay. You want to make sure that, when the school reads your application, they’re left with little doubt that they’re your top pick.