College Admissions Strategies, Part 2

The Insider Secrets to Getting into the College of Your Choice

* Follow this link for Part 1 of our College Admission Strategies report.

College Admissions Insider Secret #2: 5 Decision Making Options: Which Is The Best?

ED, EA, RD, RA, and now SCEA – what does all this mean?

These letters all represent one of the 5 different college application options you have. Let’s take a closer look at each and how they affect you.

#1 EDEarly Decision: Selecting this option commits you to that college, if you’re accepted. You are making a binding decision. Once you’re accepted, you’re required to withdraw all other applications. If you’re not accepted early decision, your applications are still considered with all other applicants.

The BIG advantage to ED is that acceptance rates are typically higher for students who choose this option. If need based aid is not a factor and or your grades and test scores are on the lower end of the average student at that school, ED can be a good option.

But there are several BIG downfalls to ED. The main one being, giving up the opportunity to compare financial aid offers from multiple colleges. We have proven time and time again that have several aid offers from competing schools is a big advantage when it comes time to negotiate with colleges. ED virtually eliminates any chance of negotiating a better package.

#2 EA – Early Action: This option offers nearly the same benefits of ED without it being a binding decision if accepted. You can apply EA to as many colleges as you want.

#3 SCEA – Single Choice Early Action: This one is fairly new. Not many colleges are offering it yet.

This option requires that you apply early action at only one school.

This shows the college that this is the student’s #1 choice.

#4 RDRegular Decision: This is the deadline date for all applications. Most elite colleges require applications to be submitted between January 1 and February 1 of the student’s senior year. With acceptance letters going out between mid-March and mid-April

#5 RA – Rolling Admissions: Colleges that offer this option review applications as they come in. And students are notified within three weeks after submitting their materials.

College Admissions Insider Secret #3: The New Common Application: Pros and Cons

There is plenty to like about using this free service. (You still have to pay each specific colleges application fee or secure an app fee waiver.) It allows you to fill out just one application online and then send to more than 400 different colleges at once. Versus filling out each app by hand. This thing is a real time saver.

Now the downside. Elite colleges that offer the common app require specific supplemental forms on top of the common app. Supplemental forms are NOT optional. That means if you submit the common app but miss the supplemental form for a school, your application will be viewed as incomplete and will never get looked at. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you and check the individual colleges’ websites for this information.

All in all, the common is a good trend. One we hope continues to grow.

College Admissions Insider Secret #4: How To Nail Every College Interview

Individual college interviews are pretty rare these days. But they are required at times. Especially at elite colleges. And how you perform at the interview can either increase your chances for acceptance or be a deal breaker. Here are some tips for nailing it…

  • Be on time. In fact, be early. Nothing screams, “This isn’t that important to me,” more than being tardy.
  • Come prepared with questions of your own.
  • Dress business casual. Slacks and colored shirt for guys. Slacks or knee length skirt and blouse for girls.
  • Make and keep continual eye-contact
  • Practice how you will respond to potential questions. Don’t just wing it. You can pretty much bank on getting asked, “why are you interested in ______ college?” Having a well thought out response will go a long way.
  • Follow up with a handwritten thank-you note.

College Admissions Insider Secret #5: How To Get Amazing Letters Of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are a critical part of the subjective criteria in an application. Along with essays and extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation will do the most to set you apart from your other applicants.

Most competitive colleges require one or more letters from other people who can give insight into who you are.

A strong letter of recommendation can be one of the deciding factors when admission committees are comparing students with similar test scores and grades.

Who should you ask for a recommendation letter?

Think about what teacher, coach, or administrator you impressed the most. Your favorite teacher or class you got an “A” in might not be the best one. If there was a class you struggled in at first but then demonstrated some perseverance and eventually got a good grade overall is a better choice. That teacher is going to have a lot more to say about you. Because they will be able to attest to both your talent as well as your work ethic and contribution to the class.Help your recommenders out. Give them a copy of your transcript and a sheet that lists out all your accomplishments. And also supply them with stamped envelopes addressed to the college admissions offices. And make sure they can meet your deadline.

And don’t forget to send a hand written thank-you note to your recommenders once everything is in and let them know the results of your college applications.

To your successful college admissions,

Scott Weingold

Related Articles:

College Admissions Strategies

College Admissions Essay Help

Is Early Admission a Good Idea?

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Sharon MeintzerOctober 23rd, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Very helpful information as I begin the journey of college selection with my 16 year old daughter. I look forward to reading all your insightful newsletters. Thanks so much.

Ron KelchDecember 24th, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Your College Strategies for Admissions was a eye opener for me. I will be following your newsletters on every issue. Thank you so much.

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News,, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.