Your Last Minute Early Decision & Early Action Application Questions—Answered

– Hello and welcome. My name is Sara Harberson, and I’m America’s College Counselor. Thank you so much for joining me on this special edition of Facebook Live. It is all about Early Applications, so for those high school seniors or parents of high school seniors, you have tons of questions. This is your chance to
ask those questions. If you have something before
you submit your application and you want my feedback, you can ask it in the comment
section below the live feed. If you’ve already
submitted your application and you’re wondering what happens next, ask those questions in
the comments section below the live feed. This is your chance to get
your questions answered and I’m going to try to get to as many of them as I can tonight. I’m excited to hear from you. If you are a high school senior or a parent of a high school senior or a parent of a younger student, I encourage you to send me a shout out. Let me know where you’re coming from. If you’re a high school
student, let me know what year. If you’re a parent, let me know what year your
child is in high school. I’d love to hear from all of you because it gives me a sense of
where everybody’s coming from and what questions are
going to be asked tonight. The reason that I like to do one of these special edition
Facebook live sessions every year at the end of October
is because November 1st is one of the biggest admissions deadline throughout the year. Out of all the times when students apply, this is a very popular time. If you follow me or you’re a
member of Application Nation, you know that I encourage students to apply Early Decision
or Early Action or both or even submit some applications to rolling admissions programs because you can submit
those applications sometimes as early as the end of the
summer beginning of senior year and the sooner you get your application in for those rolling admissions programs, the better chance you
have of getting accepted. There are also advantages of applying Early
Decision and Early Action, and we can talk about that tonight, but it looks like we already
have some questions here and I’m thrilled to see you all. All right, the first question that I’m going to be
answering tonight is what if the ACT and/or transcripts
don’t get to the school by the deadline but were
requested a month ahead of time? This happens a lot. So, there are things that
the students needs to do and there are things that
the high school needs to do on behalf of the student. The student needs to follow
those deadlines to a T. So if the deadline is November 1st, that means the student needs to submit their application by 11:59 p.m. Some colleges will say 11:59
p.m. within your time zone where you live or where that college or
university is located. Now, most of the private
colleges across the country, they’re a little bit
flexible with that deadline, especially when it comes to the materials coming from the high school, but there are going to be some
large public universities, like the University of
Michigan, for example, that has very strict deadlines. Not only does the student need to submit their materials by the deadline, but the high school does as well and the test scores need to be in as well. So, if the student has already requested their recommendation
letters, their transcripts, and it’s still has not been received by the college or university, you want to try to follow up
with the college counselor and see what’s going on. The good news is it’s very
easy for the counselor to submit materials on
behalf of the student. They usually are just
pointing and clicking and the transcript gets sent, the recommendation letters
get sent electronically. So it’s very easy for the
counselors to do this. However, a lot of college counselors across the country have
an enormous case load. Sometimes they’re dealing
with, three, four, 500 seniors and so they are usually
taking every last hour and every last day
leading up to the deadline to make sure that they’re
submitting materials, but ideally all the information is going to be submitted by November 1st. Again, for some of those private colleges and universities a lot of times, the deadline is for the student and the materials from the
high school can come in even a day or two, sometimes
even a little bit later. The next question. Do Early Action decisions
ever get released early or are they rolled out or it pretty much on the date given? So for Early Decision and Early Action almost always, unless they
have an unusual process, let’s say like Wake Forest, they have a rolling
Early Decision program. Almost always, the admission’s office is going to pick a specific date and even a specific
time when they’re going to release admission’s decisions for Early Action or Early Decision. Most of the time, once the
student submits their application and everything is in place, usually the college will notify all of their applicants whether it’s the Early Decision applicant pool or the Early Action applicant pool. Usually they will notify
them a couple of days, or maybe a week in advance
to let them know what date and at what time they’re going
to be releasing those decisions. So almost always, all the
decisions become available at a specific time and almost always, the colleges are going to let the applicants know that in advance. I mentioned Wake Forest having a rolling Early Decision program that means that the student
can tactically apply Early Decision to Wake Forest as soon as their junior
year of high school is done. We had student in Application
Nation class of 2020 who applied to Wake Forest
Early Decision over the summer. He already got his decision back. He was admitted. So that can happen for a couple of colleges
across the country. Next question. My question is about the audience for the engineering specific supplements. Are they read by the
general admissions officer or are they passed along to someone with an engineering background? My son is trying to… Just disappeared on me but I
think I’ve got the question. So, it depends on the college. But almost all colleges are
going to review applications through a central admissions office. However, when the admissions officer opens up that file online
to read that application, they are considering
the undergraduate school that the student is applying to. If it’s a university, and even the major. So when they open up that application, they’re putting that
student in the contacts at the undergraduate program and the major that the student listed
on their application. They’re going to be looking
for different things depending on what the student lists. So for an engineering
student, they’re going to be a little bit more focused on
the math and science classes that the student has taken and the grades in those classes and any standardized test that matchup with math and science. They’re also probably going
to be looking at the activity to see if there’s evidence to back up that academic interest in engineering. But in terms of the essays, it’s usually read by
the admissions office, central admissions office. Sometime at larger universities, they might split the
admissions process up. So for an example, Cornell has a number of
undergraduate programs and the undergraduate
programs are heavily involved in the admissions process. So in that case, you know the person reading your application is going to be much more knowledgeable about the academic program
that the student’s applying to but almost always, the
regular admissions officer is going to be reading
business applications, engineering applications, pre-med, English, liberal arts, nursing, everything that’s offered at
that college or university. Next question. Is it a disadvantage
to apply Early Decision if the student falls below, a particular college SAT or GPA range? It’s a great question. Early Decision is always going
to advantage the student. And that is because if a
college offers Early Decision, they’re going to usually
fill a significant portion of their freshman class
for Early Decision. Colleges do that for a reason. Early Decision is a binding agreement. If they admit a student in Early Decision, that student is going to enroll unless there is a very
unusual financial aid issue where student would be released
from the binding agreement. So because of this, in Early Decision, the acceptance rate is usually higher. Sometimes it’s twice as high
as it is in regular decision. Sometimes it’s three times
or even higher than that. So there are real advantages for a student applying Early Decision. The student’s SAT scores,
ACT scores or grades are a little bit below
that middle 50% range. I can tell you that their best shot at getting into that
college or that university is going to be Early Decision. However, if it’s a
highly selected college, I tell students if it’s
a highly selected college and they offer Early Decision, you need to be competitive within range to be competitive in that
Early Decision applicant pool. So just applying Early Decision doesn’t give you this automatic guarantee that you’re going to get admitted. You need to be competitive
especially if you’re applying to some of those highly selected colleges. That’s usually going to be you best shot. Next question. Can you explain about
guaranteed admission? Sometimes that term “guaranteed admission” is used when a student is
applying to an undergraduate and Law School combined programs or an undergraduate and medical
school combined program. Sometimes materials for
the college might say that if the student is admitted
to that undergraduate and medical school program, their admission to medical
school was guaranteed but that’s unusual
because usually students still have to do well in college
to get into medical school and be able to take that next step. Sometimes there are going to
be colleges and universities that will give you an automatic admission if you show up at an open house and fill out the basic form
or the basic application. So sometimes that terminology is used. If it says guaranteed admission, it’s always a little bit leery because colleges and universities really can’t guarantee anything unless they see the full application. Next question. Hi Sara. I’m an Application Nation 2020 member. That’s great. How do I know if my SAT
scores have been received? The college board website shows my scores were sent to colleges on October 9th in the stars column with
the green check mark but does not say that it’s been received. So here’s the issue. All of these students are being so good about getting their applications in, requesting their test
scores well in advance so that there are no issues and no delays. If the college board indicates
that your test scores have been sent to the
college, that’s a good sign. It’s done electronically. Unfortunately though, the college usually is going to take time to
process those test scores or those other pieces of your application. So they could be in possession
of those test scores or your high school transcript. But maybe when you go online to check the status of your application on the admissions portal for that college, it might not be showing
up that they’ve received your a test scores or your transcript or your recommendation letters. I wouldn’t worry too much right now, but if the college board’s website says they they’ve been sent, it’s usually going to take several days sometimes even several weeks
on the part of the colleges to process all of the materials coming in. So they could have
received it by the deadline but sometimes it takes
time for them top upload it into their admission system. So just stay patient, I think it’s all going to work out. Next question. Is there any advantage to naming a major or an interest on an application? Like being pre-med or does
it hurt you if too many are applying for that program? So it’s my belief and application issue families know this. But if you’re applying to
a highly selected college, I encourage you to list
up a specific major as long as you have academic
strength in that area, you have passion for that academic area and you have the evidence to back it up. However, there are going
to be some programs and specific majors at
every college or university that are going to be more
competitive to get into. So pre-med applicant pools
are usually incredibly strong. High test force, high
grades, lots of AP classes especially in the sciences. And a lot of great evidence
to back that interest. Computer science, highly competitive. Lots of student applying right now to computer science programs
and business programs. So if you’re interested in one of these more popular programs or majors, you want to make sure
you have the application and the evidence to back it up. Next question. Should students requiring
financial aid avoid Early Decision or should they apply
knowing they can wiggle out of the commitment if the
aid offer is insufficient? So you might get different advice depending on who you speak to. But most financial aid officers are going to be very conservative. They’re going to tell families, listen, if you’re concerned about your need-based financial aid package, that we’re going to give you, you probably shouldn’t
commit to Early Decision because technically,
it’s a binding agreement. But if that’s the case, then most students across the country wouldn’t be able to apply Early Decision even though they know that that’s an advantage of
the admissions process. So it’s my belief that Early Decision shouldn’t separate the
haves and the have nots. What I would recommend though is if your family needs financial aid for you to send your
child to that college, I would encourage you to check
out the net price calculator on that college’s admissions
or financial aid website. That is a federal requirement that all colleges have
to offer that option, that GPA calculator or, excuse me, that net price calculator
on their website. That would give you some sense of what your financial aid
package will look like. I’ve had mixed results from
the net price calculator. Sometimes I hear it’s very accurate. Sometimes I hear it’s not accurate at all. There is another platform
that’s being used by some the highly selected
colleges called MyinTuition. And that’s supposed to be
a more accurate calculator for families to use. But the fact is, that if a student gets
admitted on an Early Decision, they get their financial aid package back and they know they
cannot make that happen. What the admissions officers are then going to ask to do, is they’re going to have
to fill out an appeal or another form, to see if the financial aid office can come back with a better offer. If, after the family and
the financial aid office go back and forth and if the family feels that they still cannot afford the package or afford to send their
student to that college or their child to that college, they would be released
from the binding agreement. But unfortunately even
though that’s a good thing that the student would not be bound to go if they can’t afford it, it does put them behind the eight ball because if they applied
the Early Decision, that might have limited them from applying to other programs in the early round. So just keep that in mind. But colleges will absolutely
release the student from a binding agreement if the financial aid
package doesn’t work out. Next question. When to take the ACT or SAT junior year to allow time to take the test twice and still meet the Early Action deadline? This is a great question. I recommend that high school juniors take an official SAT or ACT I would say sometime in
early winter, late fall or early winter for the first time. That’s going to give
them another opportunity to possibly take it a second time in the spring of junior year. If they want to take it a third time, they could take during the summer. There are now SAT and ACT
dates in the summer time or in early fall. For most of the colleges and universities, even if they have an Early Decision or an Early Action program, almost always they will
accept fall testing from high school seniors. I would say University of Michigan and some of those larger universities, public universities might
have stricter deadlines. But for the most part, there are going to be a
lot of high school seniors who are interested in Early
Decision and Early Action and they’re taking the ACT in September or the SAT or subject tests in October and are still able to get
those scores in on time. I should mention though, that a lot of colleges and universities are now moving to self reported scores. So the moment a student
gets their scores in from the actual SAT, they can immediately update the college. Next question. Do colleges look at extra curriculars taking place during senior year planned for a long time? Well, yes. So when a student is filling
out the application section, the activity section
is the most interesting I would say for most people. And they’re going to be listing what year they did each activity. Now, ideally they are continuing
to do their activities through senior year. And also the admissions officer is also going to be looking at things that the student is going to be
doing later on in senior year. So let’s say you play a spring sport, you’ve played 9th grade,
10th grade and 11th grade. How do you fill out that activities list? You can still list that spring sport and doing it for 12th grade as
long as you planned to do it. The next question. If a student takes both the SAT and ACT and performs exceedingly
better on one of them, should the student report both scores? It’s interesting. Yeah, I get this question a lot. So my feeling is if a
college or university doesn’t require the
student to send all the SAT and all the ACT scores, you don’t need to send
them all that information. Send them what puts you in the best light. So if the student did better
on one test over another, and the college does
not require the student to send all their test
scores for both tests, just send the college the best score. And if you’re curious, there’s a great conversion chart where you can compare your ACT score to your SAT score to figure out which one you scored better on. But usually, the students know. But if you want to double check, I use the ACT/SAT conversion chart that is used by the college
board and the ACT organization. All right. Next question. How can a student apply to
some schools for one major and other schools for
another using the Common App? Great question. So when a college uses the
Common App for example, or even the Coalition Application, there are some general information in the Common App that’s going
to get sent to every college. But all those colleges are going to have their
own individual supplement. And one of the required questions for that student to fill out
on the college’s supplement is what program or major
they’re interested in. And a lot of times, students will change
their major or program depending on the college or university. I’ll just direct you to also not only throwing out supplement carefully in the major that you want. But also there is a section on Common App. I think it’s called the
“future plan section”. You want to make sure if you’re
applying to different programs for different colleges that your answer to the
future plan’s question about what you think you want to do and what degree you think you’ll get. You want to make sure that it’s consistent with the majors and programs that you are listing on
the specific supplements. It is possible for a student to submit an application to one college and then make changes to the Common App that will affect subsequent applications. However, it can get very
tricky and very confusing. So you’d want to be consistent
and careful as possible. Next question. What is the weight of the SAT essay? There aren’t many colleges at this point that are requiring the essay for the SAT or the writing section for the ACT. I know that the UC system, the University of California system still requires the SAT with essay and the ACT with writing. However, even if a college
wants to see that essay score, I can tell you that they’re not putting nearly as much weight on that score for the essay or the writing section as they are for the other sections. And I am going to predict
that that essay for the SAT and the writing section for the ACT is probably going to be
eliminated in the near future because at this point, there aren’t many colleges or universities that are requiring to see that. Next question. If you want to apply Early Action to deadline being November 1st, but will take the SAT on November 2nd, how do you let the school know? Okay. Great question. There are going to be plenty of colleges, mostly private colleges that are going to permit
the student to do this. So here is what you should do. When you’re filling out the application, there’s going to be a testing section. You can report, self-report test scores that you’ve previously done. You can also indicate whether or not you’re going to be taking
future tests as well. But as soon as your
scores become available, you want to find out, probably you’d want to do this in advance how you update the colleges. In some cases, you will need
to go on the admissions portal. A lot of colleges right now
will have an admissions portal where you can track to see if
all of your materials are in. Sometimes you can even provide updates. So if your scores come in and you are able to update the portal, that’s a very easy way to do that. In some cases, the college will say that if you have new scores from November, and you’re applying Early
Decision or Early Action, sometimes they want
those scores via email. So it really depends on the college but I would call right now to find out what they recommend
to send those latest scores. And a lot of times, they will accept it. If it’s November 2nd
SAT scores for example, a lot of times, by the time
the college gets those scores, the admissions officer’s
probably done at least an initial read on the application. But the admissions
officer is required to see all updated information. So if anything comes in late, they got to take a look at it as well. The next question. If a college doesn’t
require a recommendation do you recommend going
ahead and sending one? Can you use the same
one for honors colleges, merit scholarships. If so… I don’t see the rest of the question but I think I have a
pretty good sense of it. Thanks. I would say read carefully what the college wants from the student. Go on the admissions website and look to see what they recommend. If they say we do not permit
any recommendation letter, so that’s pretty clear language and I would not submit the
letters of recommendation. But there are some colleges that say, We don’t require any
recommendation letters. But if you want to send them, you can. Or if you want to send extra, you can. I would read the fine print on the admissions website and find out. But some of those larger
state universities, larger public universities, they’re getting so many applications and a lot of times they might limit the number of
letters of recommendation or they might not allow
any recommendations, recommendation letters at all. So make sure you follow
what the college recommends. University of Michigan, they probably get the most
Early Action applications of any institution in the country. They don’t want to be flooded
with a lot of extra materials, extra recommendation letters. Next question. Does it matter if the
colleges get the application on the last day that is due? No. Especially if it is a
college with Early Action, Early Decision or regular decision. The student just has to
submit their application by the deadline. And so for those Early Decision
and Early Action deadlines, they’re in November 1st. Keep in mind admission officers for those colleges are traveling up until that day. They don’t start reading applications until after that deadline. And it takes some time, several days for the admissions office to
process all the information to pass along all the application for them to be read by
the admissions officers. So it doesn’t give you this
added advantage necessarily if you’re applying Early
Decision or Early Action. You submit your application
really, really early. Because usually, you are
relying on other people like your high school college
counselor to submit materials but also, you’re not going to
get this extra added advantage if you send in that application
well before the deadline. If you’re applying to a rolling
admissions program, yes, the sooner you get it in, the better. That means the admissions officers
are going to be evaluating these applications as they come in. They’re not going to wait
until after the deadline. So it is absolutely okay to submit the application
right on the deadline but I wouldn’t recommend it. I would recommend sending your application in 24 to 48 hours before the deadline just to be sure that it
gets submitted on time with no issues at all. All right, next question. I think we have time for a few more. If the student took the SAT with writing but the school does not require writing, will the school simply… I didn’t see the rest of the question but if the student takes
the ACT with writing or the SAT with the essay section and the college does not require it, they might see the score but it’s not going to make a lot
of difference to them at all. They might glance at it. If it’s a low score, it’s a low score but the fact is they don’t count it in the admissions process. So they will see it but it’s not going to make
a difference in the end. It’s what the student got
on the required sections of the SAT and the ACT and the combined or composite score that’s going to matter to those colleges that don’t require the
essay or the writing score. Next question. How soon should letters of recommendation get to the admissions offices? Same time as applications? Ideally Pam, but that’s
not always the case. Usually, the school doesn’t
send in the transcript and the recommendation letters until the students submits their
portion of the application. So when I was a college
counselor at a high school, if the student submitted their application to Duke University at
11:59 p.m. on November 1st and now it was, let’s
say in previous years, it could have been on a Sunday
or Saturday, for example, I was not going to get notification that the student submitted
their application until the following Monday. That meant that I was
sending those materials after the deadline. Now again, it’s usually not an issue but I would recommend
that the students submit their portion of the application, make sure the notifications are in place to notify the college
counselor that everything is in so that they can send their
portion of the application, the transcript, the high school profile and the recommendation letters. Maybe time for one more question? That’s it all righty. Which is the last question? It’s going to be, what is the difference
between Early Admission and Early Decision? Okay, or you can even say Early Action. So there’s Early Admission, Early Decision and Early Action. For most colleges and
universities across the country, Early Admission usually refers
to students who are younger than high school seniors applying to that college or university. So, sometimes a high school junior is ready to apply to college. They don’t want to finish
up their senior year. Maybe they have almost
all the requirements except English and gym and they want to college early. So in some cases,
colleges and universities will entertain applications
from younger students. But it’s rare for those
students to get admitted because mostly for maturity
and giving that student a chance to finish four
years of high school. Early Decision is when
a college or university has a binding program meaning that if the student gets admitted
under Early Decision, they are expected to enroll unless there’s a financial aid issue. So that means that that college needs to be that student’s first choice. Early Action, very similar deadlines, students are notified
about their decisions around the same time as
Early Decision programs but it’s not a binding program. The student can get in Early Action so let’s say Northeastern
or University of Michigan or the University of Virginia
has an Early Action program. But they’re not required or bound to go to that
college or university. So they can get accepted Early Action at the University of Michigan. They can put that acceptance
into their back pocket and continue to apply to other colleges in the regular decision running. They have until May 1st to make a decision about where they plan to enroll. So great question and then making sure those definitions are
clear in everyone’s mind. I want to thank you all for joining me on this special edition of Facebook Live. I am encouraging all
those high school seniors. You got a little bit longer, this is the big push. I encourage you to try to
get those Early Decision, Early Action applications in because it can really
give you some advantages, if not an Early Decision
with a clear advantage in terms of the acceptance rates. With Early Action, you can find out that you’ve been admitted
to some colleges, sometimes as early as mid December. So on that note, good luck to all those
high school students and I look forward to
seeing you back here again on our next Facebook Live. Take care and have a good night. Bye-bye.

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