The Pros and Cons of the Early College Application

Dear College Made Simple reader,

We all know a few high school students who have long known what career they’d like to pursue and what college they want to attend.

They’ve “always wanted to be a lawyer.” They’ve “always wanted to run a business.” And often times they want to learn how to achieve their dream at one specific school.

When you hear about early college application, this above scenario is the typical makeup

of students who apply early. They know what they want to study. They know where. And they can’t wait another minute to find out if they are accepted.

Early college application deadlines are in the fall. They vary among colleges, but Nov. 1 is the typical date.

Applying early does come with its pros and cons, each of which I’ll lay out in detail in today’s report.

– Scott

The Pros and Cons of the Early College Application – and Why Some Students Apply Early


Convenience. Sure, there is a convenience to applying early. For active high school students, early application (and hopefully, early acceptance) means that the application process is out of the way.

Higher Chances of Acceptance. However, the biggest reason students apply early is that it increases their chances of being accepted. Some experts estimate early applicants are accepted at three times the rate as regular applicants. That’s because early applicants are typically committing to a school if accepted. So by accepting these students, colleges can fill their classrooms, dorms and cafeterias faster. And students with the moxie to apply early are exactly the type they want.

Cons of Early College Application

Fast Deadline: As its name implies, an early application requires students to act quickly. The shorter window of time to investigate programs, tuition, financial aid, and the overall aesthetics of a college can discourage students from applying early.

Commitment: Depending on the ‘type’ of early application you make, it may be a binding decision to attend if you are accepted. Because of that, many students and their parents worry once the envelope is mailed that they chose the wrong school.

Financial Aid Uncertainty: Another big reason – perhaps the biggest – is financial aid uncertainty. If accepted to attend, an early applicant normally has to accept whatever financial aid assistance is offered. The prospect of being locked into paying upwards of tens of thousands out of pocket is frightening, especially in this economy. On the other hand, students who apply for regular admission can pick and choose between schools that accept them. They also have the freedom to factor how much financial aid they’ll get from each school into their decision.

Applying early is a very big decision because of the commitment. Students should apply early only if they are dead certain about wanting to attend that particular college… and if finances are not their primary concern.

Students should not apply if they plan on choosing from acceptance offers and financial aid packages from several colleges. Nor should they apply if their grades could use a good homestretch performance during their senior year.

To your college funding & admissions success,

Scott Weingold

Co-Founder, College Planning Network LLC

Publisher, – The free educational resource of College Planning Network


Related Articles:

When Should Seniors Apply for College?

Is Early Admission a Good Idea?

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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.