Key Terms To Know

Early Decision (ED)


Many colleges offer this binding application option. Binding means that if admitted, early decision applicants are contractually bound to enroll in that college; therefore, the early decision option is only applicable to students who are 100% committed to enrolling at one particular school if accepted. Students who use the ED option apply early in the process and receive an earlier admission decision from the college; students may only apply ED to one school.  Some colleges offer two ED rounds – both are binding.    




  • Usually November 1, sometimes November 15.
  • If there is a second round, that deadline is generally in early December.           


  • If you are 100% committed to attending a particular school, you will have the option to find out if you are accepted very early in the application season and are therefore relieved of the stress of the long college application process.
  • There is a smaller applicant pool so you have the opportunity stand out more in the process.
  • Most colleges accept a higher percentage of students from the early decision applicant pool than from the regular pool.
  • Your firm commitment to attend can make you a more attractive candidate to the admissions committee.


  • If accepted, you are committed to attending only this one school. You can not and may not change your mind.
  • You do not have the ability to compare financial aid or scholarship packages to other colleges because you are already committed to this one school.


  • Students may be accepted, rejected, or deferred. If a student is denied admission to their early decision school, college applications to other institutions must be pursued.
  • If a student is deferred, they are considered for admission with the regular decision applicant pool and are no longer bound by the early decision contract.
  • If accepted, the student is committed to attend.

Early Action (EA)


The Early Action option offers students a chance to apply early in the process and receive an earlier admission decision from the college, but students are not bound to attend.  This option is not available at all colleges.



  • Most offer a December 1 deadline. Please check each individual college website and/or Naviance for firm deadlines.


  • The student will receive an earlier admission decision without the commitment to attend; therefore, students are not limited in their applications to other colleges.
  • Due to the earlier timeline, students have an opportunity to stand out more in the process.
  • Students can apply to more than one early action school.


  • None!


  •  Students may be accepted, rejected, or deferred. If a student is denied admission to an early action school, applications to other colleges must be pursued.
  • If the student is deferred, they are considered for admission with the regular decision applicant pool (usually a rolling process).
  • If accepted, the student can choose to attend the EA college, or apply to other colleges.

Regular Decision

Students who apply to a regular decision school must turn in their application materials to the College Guidance Office by December 1. Regardless of when the college received the application, all admission decisions are mailed out at one time. Typically, regular decisions are mailed around April 1. The regular decision outcomes may include accept (for fall or spring), wait list or deny.


Rolling Decision

Some colleges make admission decisions as applications are received; this is a rolling decision process. Some rolling decision schools will mail out individual decisions as they are made, others will mail decisions in batches. The key to a rolling decision process is applying early! As the process moves along, the available places in the freshman class become more and more limited and the decision criteria may even become increasingly competitive.  Applications can be sent out as early as September to a rolling decision college.



Virtually all colleges will allow students to defer admission in order to spend a year in Israel. This opportunity for positive educational and personal growth can be a wonderful experience for a student. Students should contact the college directly and work with their college guidance counselor to determine the specific deferral policy and process for an individual college.


Wait List

One possible decision that a college may make is to offer a student a place on the wait list. This means that the student may be contacted over the summer (sometimes as early as May but possibly as late as August) and offered admission to the college. A wait list option is not a guarantee of future admission, just a possibility, so the student must commit to attending a college which offered admission to that student.



Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  This is the required form in order to receive ANY financial aid or scholarship funds from ALL public and most private colleges.  It is filled out online at and is available after January 1.  The earlier the form is filled out the better the opportunity for a strong financial package.


CSS Profile

The College Board financial aid/scholarship form that many private colleges require in addition to the FAFSA.  Some private colleges also require their own forms – in addition to or instead of the CSS Profile.