Deferred from EA or ED? Take action!

Pick Me!No rest for the applicant weary! If you have been deferred from
schools where you applied Early Action or Early Decision, now is the time to show “Demonstrated Interest”.

In the next few weeks, you can improve your chances of moving from the “limbo” stack of applications to the “Admitted” stack. There are many ways for the student (not parents!) to demonstrate interest:

  1. Visit campus again, and be sure to register with admissions office when you do.
  2. Email your admissions counselor, ask good questions, and confirm that your application is complete.
  3. Send any additional information which may have not made the application deadline, i.e., did you get published in the school newspaper, make the honor roll, earn a great report card, or receive other acknowledgments? Send a copy of your award with a note, “just thought you would like to know….”
  4. Respond to all emails from the admissions officers, even if they seem superfluous or not serious. They are!
  5. Do you have an opportunity to interview with the college? Be sure to go for it.

Note: This is also an important tactic for the regular admissions cycle. However, if you are notified that you have been waitlisted, these are the same type of initiatives you will need to take to move off the waitlist.

You need to show the love! Many Admissions Departments consider demonstrated interest very seriously. They want to improve their acceptance rate and increase their yield of accepted applicants who commit to attending. Every time a college can improve their Admissions statistics, it benefits their place in the college rankings, the holy grail in a university’s endowment.

Be assertive, enthusiastic and motivated and  give the Admissions Department a few more good reasons why they should accept you.  :)




Future Tuition Worries? Read this!


In December of 2014 Kiplinger created a tremendous chart Best Values in Public Colleges (click for chart) . It compares the tuition of 100 top public Colleges and Universities.  The chart includes  in-state tuition verses out-of-state tuition while including critical data such as admit rate, four-year graduation rate, financial aid consideration and average debt at graduation. Notice how many schools report average debt at  graduation is $20K or less, over four years. $5K per year  in loans  is a very reasonable amount for a student to borrow. This chart is interactive & can be resorted as you heart desires by clicking at the top of the columns! Very FUN for spreadsheet geeks!

Who cares about the Admit  (Admissions) rate?  If an admit rate below 30%,  that means that it is very competitive to be accepted and your GPA and test scores should be in the upper % of the school’s averages, although you should definitely submit an application since statistics and candidate pools change every year.  Never think a school is “safety”, many students have been disappointed by their so-called “safety” schools. Learn what  the admissions department is looking for beyond the published statistics, by  attending their information sessions or calling the department.

Four year Graduation Rate is an important consideration. Many of the best students do not graduate in four years, sometimes due to their own missteps or perhaps they switched majors or withdraw from a difficult class. However, if students are NOT graduating in four years due to the university over enrollment and the college cannot meet the demand, this could be a costly problem.  Sometimes a student will miss out on taking a  required class due to over enrollment. The university may just shrug their shoulders and  advise them to take it the following year, which could delay graduation and mean more tuition bills.

The graduation rate is important in that it reflects the culture of the school, such as:

  • are the students happy on campus and with their overall college experience?
  • are the students studious and goal-oriented?
  • are 100s of students failing out because of a party culture?

If 50% of the students are not graduating on time it is a red flag that you might as well consider tacking on at least another semester of room, board and tuition or earning credits by attending summer school, which will be another tuition bill. A low graduation rate does not have to deter the potential student, they should be aware that their may be obstacles and to prepare accordingly.

Freshman Retention rate is another statistic to keep in mind. Although freshman retention rate is not part of the Kiplinger chart it is another noteworthy statistic for the same reasons as mentioned above. If 100s of freshman students are not returning to campus you need to ask yourself why and would these reasons affect you.

Although a school might have a low freshman retention rate, or graduation rate, if you are interested in the school, you should check it out.  If you like the classes or programs offered, make your decision to attend and be part of the solution for improving their statistics.  Finally, earn your Bachelors degree at a college you can afford. :)

Tick, Tock…Early Decision or Early Action?


Submitting college applications Early Action is a no brainer. Why? Because this is a non binding application. But sending an application Early Decision is a BIG deal!  Why? Because you are signing a contract that you will attend if accepted.

Early Action or EA means that you submit the application for usually a November 1st or November 15th deadline and then Admissions will notify you in mid-December  whether you have been accepted, deferred, or rejected and need to find another favorite college. Additionally, EA applicants are usually considered for merit scholarships  which is completely different from the financial aid that is based on need. Essentially the school, with no consideration to you financial need, may say “Gee, you super and we really, really want you to come to our college. You qualify for Merit award!” :)

Take advantage of schools that offer Early Action and submit the majority of your applications by this deadline. There are no limits to the amount of Early Action applications you may submit.

Submitting an application Early Decision is more like a marriage proposal. You are professing your love for the college. Basically saying “College, if you accept me I am yours…  till death do us part…” A hard decision for an 17 or 18-year-old make.

You can only apply to one college Early Decision (ED). It is a binding decision, usually due Nov 1st or 15th and the only circumstances which will release you from an ED acceptance is if the school’s financial aid offer is incompatible with the family’s financial situation. Thus if you apply ED and require financial aid, be sure to disclose that need. ED’s require that you, your parents and guidance counselor sign a ED contract saying that if you are accepted, you will attend and you will retract all other applications. Your ED school is your absolute favorite.

Although most colleges follow these aforementioned deadlines, each college is different so be sure read each college application requirements. There are other types of application deadlines and restrictions which are discussed below.

JACKPOT!  You have  been accepted to your Early Decision school AND you simultaneously are accepted to EA schools who are offering you a big Merit Scholarship… bye-bye scholarships. You signed the contract for Early Decision to your favorite college. This is the primary reason why you would not want to apply ED. However, your ED school may still offer you a financial package.

Why would anyone submit an ED Application? The best reason, besides getting the whole process completed, is because if you are applying to a very selective school your chances of being accepted are far greater with an ED application vs. Early Action or regular admission.

For example check out the 2012 acceptance rate :

College            ED Accept Rate          Regular Decision Rate

Lehigh              63%                             32%

J, Hopkins        30%                             17%

Colgate             51%                             26%

Dartmouth       25%                             7%

U Penn             25%                             9%

Duke                25%                             11%

Note that many ED accepted students then often worry, the rest of their senior year, if they made the right decision. A little buyer’s remorse could kick in.

A few more application deadline terms, that are not so widely used:

Restrictive Early Action — If you applied ED to a school, then you cannot apply Early Action to this school (i.e. Boston College).
Restrictive Early Decision — If you apply ED you cannot send  EA applications to other schools (i.e. Brown).
Single Action, Early Action – For example: Yale, unlike Brown, is a non binding EA application, but you still cannot apply to others schools.
Rolling Admissions Early Decision  –  send in Sepembert and you may know a few weeks later. Binding. Example: Wake Forest
Early Decision Round II – Still an Early Decision application that is binding, just sent in later around usually Jan 15.  One reason a school may offer this is to pick up highly qualified students who may have been rejected by their first choice school.

Tah-dah! Your College List Strategy…

Unless you are a rare bird that will be submitting only one application, it’s time to hone your college list. Now is the time to put pen to paper and commit to applying to 7 or 10+ schools.

Smart college applicants cast a wide net of schools:

  •               1 to 2 Reaches
  •               4 to 6 Matches
  •               1 to 2 Safeties
  •               1 to 2 Financial Safeties  
  •            = 7 to 12 Applications

Guidelines of what is considered Reach, Match, Safety and Financial Safety:

  • Reach schools – have low acceptance rates, and GPA and test scores are below the school’s average.
  • Match schools –  a realistic chance, if your GPA & test scores are above the average and acceptance rate >30%.
  • Safety schools – GPA & test scores are above the college’s average and college has a high acceptance rate
  • Financial Safety – Choosing a school you can afford to attend such as in-state public college or community college and your test scores meet the average

Where to start? You have seen plenty of brochures, talked with friends, family members, and your guidance counselor and hopefully you have been to a few campuses. Now print a copy of College in the Bag’s “College Comparison Spreadsheet” (under the “Freebie Worksheets” tab) and start filling it out. Our favorite site for researching a college’s data and fast facts is

Do you want Merit Scholarship offers? Then you  want to apply to more “safety” schools and apply early action if offered. If it is a state, public school apply as early as possible, since many are rolling admissions. Do not wait until the Deadline! The early bird gets the worm, the acceptance, financial aid and the scholarship! Note that very selective colleges rarely offer merit scholarships, although they will offer financial aid, and that usually means loans. :(

Yikes ! Are applications too expensive?  Yes, sending 10 applications at $60 on average is big $$$! Families who cannot afford this may apply for a fee waiver. Go to  fee waiver application for more information.

Do not let anyone discourage you from applying to your well researched list of 8+ schools!. After you have received several Acceptance Letters :) , your next hurdle will be comparing tuition, financial aid and hopefully merit scholarships.

Many colleges are offering “Priority” applications which often will waive the application fee if you apply by a certain date. Call your favorite admissions office and find out if they are offering “Priority” applications. After all, the more students that apply to their school, the better the effect on the school’s rankings. This is another reason why the pool of participating colleges with the Common Application continue to grow. Colleges want your application. Even Harvard sends hundreds of thousands of “Gee, we like you!” letters for the 2000 acceptances they will offer.

Got your List? Now attack those applications!