Applying for colleges early gets seniors ahead of the gameTuesday, October 20, 2009 By Christine Zavesky
As the days get shorter and the weather becomes cooler every autumn, Granite Bay High School seniors start feeling the heat to get their college applications started. However, some students utilize what colleges call the early application process, where they send in an application to a school earlier than the regular application process. “The deadlines for applications run considerably sooner,” said Walt Wild, a GBHS counselor. “(The early applications) are usually done in October.” By applying early, according to GBHS College and Career Center counselor Cindi Underwood, it takes the pressure off the senior to know if they are in the college of their choice. “It relieves stress for the students and most will already know come January,” Underwood said. The early application is most commonly found at competitive and private universities, such as Stanford, the University of Southern California and the Ivy Leagues, and can often provide an inside edge to being accepted. “Since it is usually the more proactive kids that apply early, it is very competitive to get in,” Wild said. In general, most public schools don’t offer an early application, according to Underwood. However, two local exceptions include California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo and the University of Nevada- Reno. “(By not offering the early application), the UC’s and CSU’s are allowing equal opportunity to all students,” Wild said. However, in the past decade, many public schools, including many of the California State University campuses, dropped opportunities similar to what UNR offers. These changes in the schools, called “impacted schools,” were because of the financial strain placed on the universities. “Over the last decade, the number of impacted schools has grown from six to 12,” Underwood said. For GBHS senior Annie Segale, the process of applying to college was made a whole lot easier when she found out her first choice, UNR, offered a program very similar to the early application. When UNR visits the College and Career Center, she plans to show her application to the speaker, who could admit her to the school that day. “Because (UNR) was my first choice, it was an easy decision (to apply early),” Segale said. “I’m really glad Reno offers (this program).” Both Underwood and Wild caution students about applying early, because it can backfire if the school is a second or third choice and a student is only applying so he or she can have a back-up plan. “The rule of thumb is only if it is (a student’s) first choice school,” Underwood said. “There are just too many risks if the university isn’t the student’s No. 1 school.” Wild also warns students to be aware of the distinction between an early action and an early decision. “The early decision, not to be confused with an early action, is binding,” Wild said. “On the other hand, the early action is nonbinding.” For Segale, attempting the early decision is a risk she is willing to take. “It’s definitely less stressful this way,” Segale said. “It takes a lot of the pressure off.” Wild and Underwood both said that going for the early application is worth it, but only if the school is a student’s first choice. Underwood also said that even if students don’t get in during the early application, they can try again during the regular application opportunity. Segale said she recommends that other students take advantage of those kinds of opportunities. “If their schools offer it, then early applications are definitely beneficial and worth it,” Segale said.