What colleges, or types of colleges—small, large, public, private, rural, suburban, technical, or liberal arts—should I be considering? Where do I have a reasonable chance of being accepted? Which schools have the resources to offer me viable financial aid options?
Early Decision (ED): This is a binding admissions plan whereby students commit, unconditionally, to attending the school if admitted. ED deadlines are usually in November, although some schools offer secondary ED deadlines, called ED 2, as late as mid-January. Students receive an admissions decision within four to six weeks. The advantage of this plan is that, if admitted, students know where they are going early, usually by December 15th. While their friends are stressed applying to more schools through January and February and must compare different offers of admission and financial aid through May 1st, successful ED applicants already have everything figured out. Another advantage of this plan is that some schools have higher admission rates for ED applicants. The downsides include losing the chance to compare financial aid packages and having to commit to one school so early on in the process.
Early Action (EA): This plan is similar to ED in terms of application deadlines, but it is non-binding. Students do not have to withdraw applications at other schools if accepted and, should they choose to enroll, they can wait until May 1 to mail in their deposit. Other than having to complete the application early, this plan has no downside and is absolutely encouraged as it buys students the great comfort that comes with being admitted to a school early on in the process, often by December 15th.
Rolling Admission: Under this plan, students’ applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Rather than waiting to receive all the applications by a specific deadline, and then selecting the strongest applications from the pool, admissions decisions are made on an ongoing basis. Therefore, the earlier an application is received, the higher the chance of acceptance, and the sooner the student finds out if s/he is admitted. Students are notified throughout the year, rather on a single date, as with regular decision. Many state schools have rolling admissions plans, such as University of Massachusetts, University of Arizona, etc.
Regular Decision: Under this plan, students must submit applications by a specific deadline; typically between January 1 and February 15, although many transfer applications are accepted through May. Admissions decisions are not made until after all applications are received, to ensure that the strongest applications are selected from the pool. Decisions are mailed to all applicants on April 1.
Freshman versus Transfer Applications: Do BHSEC students apply as freshmen, transfers or both? How many BHSEC credits are accepted by four year schools? Over the past several years, the CTO has learned that BHSEC students have a wide variety of goals for their continued education. This, coupled with the fact that different schools recognize different numbers of BHSEC credits and accept students in a variety of ways (as transfers, freshmen/freshmen with advanced standing, etc.), makes it difficult to give a “one size fits all” answer to this question. These issues are best addressed on a case-by-case basis the CTO advisors.