College Application Deadline: Why You Should Consider Applying Early

by Heather Nelson

Want your child to have the best shot at the school of their dreams? Consider helping them apply early.

The early action college application deadline is November 1 for many institutions, but students applying to Azusa Pacific University have until November 15 to send in their paperwork. Check out the following reasons why early action is the way to go.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

According to a recent U.S. News annual survey, the average acceptance rate for early action applicants in 2015 was 63 percent, as opposed to 50 percent for regular applicants. Simply put, applying early gives your child a better chance of being accepted to their top schools.

“Applying early to colleges and universities shows that you are serious about college,” explains David Dufault-Hunter, vice president for enrollment management at APU. “Colleges see this commitment, and we know that students who apply in time for the early action deadline typically persist to graduation at higher rates and achieve higher GPAs.”

Remember, applying early doesn’t automatically make one qualified. If your child stands out in academics, extracurricular activities, and other areas important to the school, the application will pop.

Skip the Anxiety

Early action means your student applies to college before the regular deadline—and hears back sooner. Most applicants will find out if they are accepted before winter break, giving them a head start in finalizing their college plans. Plus, early action applicants don’t have an obligation to attend the school or schools to which they’re admitted; instead, these students simply know before their classmates what options they have for the coming fall.

Get Ahead on Financial Aid

Knowing your child’s college plans early also allows you to plan for what’s ahead financially.

“Remember to complete your FAFSA early,” Dufault-Hunter says. “The FAFSA is essential for receiving financial aid options. Most high schools offer FAFSA completion workshops in the fall and spring.”

Once you know what kind of financial aid package you’re working with, you may be able to use it to your advantage. See if your child’s top schools will match another college’s offer, or use your child’s aid package to negotiate with different universities to get the best price. With early acceptance and financial aid in hand, your student could be set for fall before ringing in the new year.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

When applicants meet the early action college application deadline, it gives them a jump on their competition. Before the other 99 percent of student applications flood in, your child’s application has already been pored over and highlighted.

But remember, applying early isn’t a superpower: stellar preparation is key.

If you already know that your child has good grades and participates in extracurriculars, you’ll want to ensure they take the time to craft excellent admissions essays. Students from top universities shared advice regarding the application process and how to help your student stand out:

  • Start essays early and have multiple people proofread them (parents, teachers, peers).
  • Research on the college to which you’re applying—make sure it’s a good fit!
  • Think about who is reading the essay (be academic, yet interesting).
  • Give yourself time to write your best essay—don’t leave it to the last minute.
  • Get organized. Organizing your space, time, and brain can make all the difference.

Tips for Parents

Working through the unfamiliar college application process together can ease stress levels for both you and your child.

“Deciding on a college is stressful. Don’t be surprised if your child freaks out a little; it’s all part of the process,” APU’s Dufault-Hunter advises. In particular, he recommends bringing your child on school visits throughout the college application process.

“There’s nothing quite like being on a campus and getting a feel for what it would be like to attend. Look at schools of all sizes and types—large and small, private and public,” Dufault-Hunter says. “Work with your child’s college counselor to hone the list based on academic interest, in-state/out-of-state preferences, and other unique components of colleges that appeal to their goals and interests.”

In addition to school visits, help your child gather transcripts and ensure the necessary college exam tests (like the SAT and ACT) have been taken. Most importantly, be your child’s biggest cheerleader. Together, you can make college dreams come true!

If you’re planning on applying early, the early action deadline is November 15for many universities, including APU. If you have any questions about early action (or admission in general), the admissions counselors at APU are happy to answer your questions.

Happy applying!